7.26.2005

 

Robots for elderly care

Call me HAL: Japan looks to robots for elderly care

From the article:Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. It has an incentive to rapidly deploy robots in its economy. That will accelerate the creation of the Robotic Nation.

Comments:
I think there's an important subtext here that needs to be discussed.

Clearly it's a fact that the social attitudes in Japan will enable this particular sector of robotics, but that doesn't mean we should turn away from the facts of the situation: this guy Takashi Gomi is basically saying, yeah, there's discrimination in Japan, and we intend to make a profit off it.

That attitude isn't cool.

It's one thing to say that it's inevitable that robotic caregivers will put a huge dent in the elderly care workforce. Of course they will.

But it's something else again for people to fool themselves into thinking that robotics will somehow make a serious social problem, discrimination, just go away. Simple economic forces will push robotics into this realm and many others, but that doesn't justify blithely looking the other way in the face of old-fashioned discrimination.

Robotics has real potential to aggravate existing ethnic tensions -- one more thing we'll have to deal with, and in my opinion, actively work against, as the the robotic nation becomes ever more real.
 
Discrimination between Japanese and non-Japanese is not considered a social problem in Japan.

There aren't many foreigners living in Japan. It is made clear to foreigners from the very beginning that they are _guests._

Nobody just casually up and decides to live in Japan.

I think it would be wrong to decide that external societies can force their members into Japanese society, and demand acceptance.

They value the cohesion of their society. If this sounds harsh to you, compare with the immigration policies of the Twin Oaks commune.

-- Lion
 
Is it really wrong for a country to want to preserve its culture? Especially a culture that is so old? Having a flood of immigrants would no doubt change that culture.
 
Well, this blog certainly isn't the place to discuss what is and isn't discrimination. Marshall, I'm sorry for rambling on here (I will suggest another venue where the topic is being discussed, however, and I'll also add, ask the Ainu, Burakumin, and and ethnic Koreans and Chinese who have lived in Japan for generations whether there there are ethnic issues in Japan, let alone more recent immigrant groups such as Filipinos. Which century is this, again?)

The fact that there were two responses about this topic that had nothing to do with robotics only drives my point home: while robotics will bring a new set of social problems (widespread unemployment being the most obvious), it will also exacerbate existing tensions, and transform some of them from topics that are politely talked around into issues that can't be ignored.
 
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