Kodomoroid, a very human-like child android robot, is the work of Hiroshi Ishiguro and is currently acting as a guide at the Miraikan museum in Tokyo. The robot speaks to visitors of the museum and provides them with information about exhibits and their visit. (Source: Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International)
We already know, and fully recognize the fact that different cultures react to a lot of things in ways different than we do here in the USofA. Business folks had to learn some,of it the very hard way, but now you can buy books that claim to set one on the correct path to be accepted for business deals.
My own first experience with different cultures as a business challenge came in dealing with a Korean company located in northern Canada. I quoted a testing machine for them, along with a quite detailed proposal of exactly what would be delivered. They responded with a purchase order, and then let me know that we would be negotiating how it would be done. Most folks do that prior to issuing a PO, instead of after the contract is signed.
BUt they really did love the machine, they ran it constantly for five years and wore it out. They sent it back to be rebuilt and also purchased a second one built just like the original. I was quite flattered at that.
Interesting insight, William K. In a comment elsewhere on our site today, I mentioned that Joseph Engelberger, the legendary American roboticist, was more recognized in Japan than in the U.S. He even won the Japan Prize, Japan's highest technical honor, even though he was virtually anonymous here. Maybe your comment provides a little insight as to why that is.
That's an interesting concept, William K., and perhaps you're right about Japan's concept of conformity. But to be honest, I don't find that people in the U.S. are particularly non conformist. I think conformity is also a big part of American culture. Grow up, go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc. etc. There is a path people in the U.S. are meant to follow and many still follow this path. So I think conformity still exists in the U.S., too.
One more reason for a greater proliferation of humanoid robots in Japan is their cukllture, which places a whole lot more importance on being just like everybody else. Robots are certainly conformists in their own kind, including the programming. So they would tend to fit right in.
Conformity is not so very highly valued in the USA, at least not by a lot of folks, so robots and people who act and think like robots are less acceptable.
I like how you put your comment, William K. It's true--we need robots because they don't have truly human qualities and thus our limitations. If someone decides to make them too human, it defeats the purpose.
Really, robots could wind up doing the same sort of things that heros have done, and it would be a benefit to all of us. But if some idiot is able to make robots self-aware, then suddenly we will have the worst collection of cowards ever imagined. The main difference right now is that a robot can be repaired no matter how damaged it becomes, almost. Thus it has no real need of fear, which is supposed to help protect us.
Charles, What a great idea, which is a robot commedian. Instead of a ventriliquist dummy. I can see all kinds of places and areas for humor. Both a real robot and a fake robot commedian could be really good for the laughs. An excellent gimmick. Thanks for the inspiration.
Elizabeth. Well some one corrected me on this that they have military. But very limited. Almost negligible. But if u study Japan now they are more interested in creating technology and refer to other countries for manufacturing in every field. For example Toyota. Honda . Mitsubshi . Suzuki etc. They have set up factories in different parts of the world and Japan only provide system and technology to them.
Yes, here in the U.S. we seem a bit more hesitant about interacting with robots. I'm sure that will eventually change, but people are a bit less comfortable with technology like this. Humor could work!
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