I found this interesting article highlighting the differences between American and Japanese cultures when it comes to the issue of robots.
Just about every day, I notice news stories about Japanese tech companies developing new fancy intelligent robots that are intended to help us take baths, care for us, fetch the paper, and so on.
Yet here in the United States, we don’t really ever hear stories about our own country doing much of anything in regard to robot development…instead, all we really see is depictions of robots in movies where they’re attacking us, in movies such as Terminator (in which the robots ENSLAVE us in the future, causing death and fire and terror and sadness and Arnold) and I, Robot (in which our servant bots revolt and only Will Smith is capable of saving all of humanity from robot enslavement) and so on.
The article includes sound bytes from Heather Knight, the woman responsible for the world’s first (non-industrial) robot census (yes, that’s a real thing).
She posits that the difference between Japanese and American attitudes toward robots is rooted in something much older than even the idea of robots: religion. “In Japan… they’re culturally open to robots, on account of animism. They don’t make a distinction between inanimate objects and humans.”
It’s a pretty interesting, in-depth article, chronicling some deep-seeded cultural differences between Japan and the USA regarding robots…naturally this isn’t really something I had given much thought to, but when I read this article one of those cartoon light bulbs went off in my head, a sort of “oh, yeah, now that I think about it…” feeling.
I’m not too frightened by the prospect of a robot invasion and enslavement of humans by our metal monsters, but this article demonstrates that we as Americans might be a bit more apprehensive about making hyper-developed super-bots than our Japanese contemporaries.
We don’t want this happening for real!