A fascinating article on the ways in which robots are permeating Japan's cities and industries:
Japan's Army of Machine Beings
By Wieland Wagner
The future is now. At this year's World Exposition, Japan is planning to present a veritable army of humanoid robots. They may not look like the boy next door, but they may be more intelligent. And, from playing musical instruments to dancing to helping care for the elderly and disabled, they can do almost anything.
What's even more interesting (and tragically devoid in North America) is the importance placed on all inhabitants of the earth - including inanimate objects.
The affection that the Japanese lavish on their electronic creations may seem a little odd to western sensibilities. But it's not that unusual in a country whose traditions are based on ancient, nature-oriented religions that also deify inanimate objects such as stones.
An important shift in modern robotics is seen in the almost human-like characteristics and tasks robots are given. No longer designated to the sterility of factories, robots are entering elderly care and medical facilities, where robots are expected to provide comfort and physical assistance...
But the real stars of the show will be the prototypes of newest generation robots the Japanese plan to unveil. A special building will display robots designed as helpers for the elderly or the disabled, including Takeru Sakurai's robot suit and an intelligent care-giving robot.
This is a wonderful read for those of you interested in the future of work and modern society.