Video: In Japan, robots are your friends

Posted Feb 24, 2013 by Can Tran
Osaka University Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro talks about the importance of robotics in modern day Japanese culture. Ishiguro compares and contrasts robots in regards to western culture vs. eastern culture.
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As the times progress, so does the sophistication between computer hardware and software. The progression and advancements made in technology can be applied to many different sciences. Robotics and the sub-study of cybernetics are by means no exception. If you are a fan of the genre of science-fiction, you may have contemplated the possibility of robots looking like actual humans as depicted in movies, TV shows, books, and other forms of popular media. In the near future, that reality could come into full fruition. There is this question to be asked: Is that a good thing or a bad thing? This is a question that has all sorts of answers.
In the case of Japan and possibly South Korea, robots are your friends. In a recently uploaded video, an interview was conducted with Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Professor Ishiguro is the head of Osaka University's Intelligent Robotics Lab. Ishiguro talked about the different perceptions toward robots between Eastern culture and Western culture (North America & Europe). According to Ishiguro, eastern culture such as Japanese culture believes that just about everything has a soul. Ishiguro got to specifics talking about simple things like a microphone. Compared to Christian culture, according to Ishiguro, it is believed that only humans possess souls. Ishiguro said that because of that difference, Japan doesn't hesitate to create robots.
The video is under four minutes; but, Ishiguro's words come in very deep and straight to the point. Standing by Ishiguro is the human-like Geminoid-F robot. To Ishiguro, robotics could help understand humans better. He talked about how robot interaction is popular in Japan. Furthermore, Ishiguro also talked about the difference of applications. In the case of Japan, it's for civilian use and entertainment. That's versus countries such as the US, according to Ishiguro in the video interview, where robotics are applied for military use.
In this respect, the stark contrast of robotics culture is different. With respects to fiction, robots are good or bad. In American films, robots are usually portrayed as bad or amoral. Such examples would be “Terminator,” “Heat Seeker,” “Alien” (when Ash when berserk), “Prometheus” (with David), and so forth. However, there are a few films that portray robots in a good light such as “RoboCop.” In the case of Japan, popular media usually portrays robots in a more positive light. Such examples are “Appleseed,” “Ghost In The Shell,” “Chobits,” and so forth.
At the beginning of February, Professor Ishiguro gave a lecture on creating your own robot. The lecture was hosted by the New York based Japan Society.
Also, one should take a look at this female android from South Korea called the EveR-1 which was unveiled several years ago.