January 10, 2005

On the Interesting People mailing list, a mention of the importance of humanoid robots to Japan and an article on a government panel studying safety regulations for autonomous robots in regular contact with people and traffic [via Jim Thompson].

Japan is facing a serious manpower shortage over the next generation, with a birth rate of less than 1.3 children per woman (in Tokyo, it's 0.9987!). Rural areas are already emptying out, as people flow into the cities. So, Japan will need lots of labor, for its labor-intensive farming system and to care for its graying population. There are only three choices: 1) increase the birth rate, 2) import labor, or 3) build laborers. Personally, I'm betting that xenophobia and ingenuity together win the day, and that humanoid robots will become common.

Posted by jjwiseman at January 10, 2005 09:34 AM

Interesting! It probably will spur an increase in R&D for humanoid robots, but at least for farm automation, there is probably less need for humanoid shapes...

Posted by: Jason Asbahr on January 10, 2005 02:16 PM
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