The Economist writes how Japan’s complex social rules and xenophobia are helping to drive their robot industry. On the culture side, the article contrasts the way in which Westerners are by and large totally creeped out robots, while the Japanese find humanoid robots much easier to deal with that the intricate bows, nods, affirmations, and honorifics required when dealing with their flesh-and-blood compatriots.
The Xenophobic angle is that the Japanese are especially eager to use robots in the healthcare field for their growing elderly population, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Filipina nurses are ready and willing to work in Japan at a fraction of the cost. But I’m not so sure it’s entirely a xenophobic thing. I have to admit, if it were me, I’d much rather have my spoon-feedings and enemas performed by a robot. Especially this one.
Still, over the long term, the Japanese jones for robots should continue to push breakthroughs in a robotics industry that is already the world’s most advanced.