Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Mar 2007)

typed for your pleasure on 23 March 2007, at 12.34 am

Sdtrk: ‘Date with an angel’ by The caretaker

So far, it seems like there’s been a dearth of proper Doll and/or Synthetik news since the year began. A dearth, I say! And it’s making me a little despondent. See? —> 🙁
However, I managed to discover this recent article touching upon Japan’s latest robotic developments. Does it cover new ground? Err, ish.


Wow, International Rescue’s new uniforms are lookin’ sharp

While engineers in most of the world try to make robots that perform specific and usually unpleasant tasks, from fighting wars to performing deep-sea salvage, Japanese engineers are obsessed with making the machines more human. Having put the country squarely in the lead of the industrial robot market for the past two decades, they’re now working on a new generation of robots that will serve as playmates, pets and social workers. Says [roboticist Norihiro] Hagita: “The goal is to build an intelligent environment for the symbiosis of robots and humans in everyday life. The real challenge is to come up with robots that can actually communicate with people.” […]

That emphasis on the future function of robots as companions and helpers seems to be deeply Japanese. The reason may have much to do with Japanese popular culture, where robots like the cartoon cat Doraemon or the sweet 1960s, vintage Astroboy, tend to be portrayed as beneficent, friendly types. The tendency to regard lifelike machines as unthreatening may have deeper roots in Japan’s animist Shinto culture, where inanimate objects—ranging from teapots to samurai swords—can have souls. There’s also the social imperative: as the population ages, the Japanese are increasingly looking toward robots to help make up the labor shortfall.
the complete article is here. N.B.: It’s on Newsweek.com, so it’s got a limited posting lifespan

Once again, the point is brough up that Japanese culture is much more accepting of the concept of artificial life: they don’t think in baseless terms of ‘zOMG teh androids are going to take over and kill us all’ — they see them, really, as assistants, aides, and partners, which only makes sense. If the States expects to compete at all in the robotics development field, there’s going to have to be a giant shift of cultural thinking over here — in other words, a swift and overall flood of common sense. Heh, otherwise, I’m gonna have to take off for Japan…

Also relevant: an article on Physorg.com, concerning South Korea developing a ‘Robot Ethics Charter’.

A five-member task force including experts, futurists and a science fiction writer began work last November.

“The government plans to set ethical guidelines concerning the roles and functions of robots as robots are expected to develop strong intelligence in the near future,” the ministry said in a statement.

As South Korean society ages due to a low birth rate, various service robots which “think” for themselves will come into use in the not too distant future and become “key companions to human beings,” it said.

“Imagine if some people treat androids as if the machines were their wives. Others may get addicted to interacting with them just as many Internet users get hooked to the cyberworld,” Park Hye-Young of the ministry’s robot team told AFP.
emphasis mine (of course); the complete article is here

Not entirely sure if what Park Hye-Young meant was supposed to be pejorative, but as far as I’m concerned, the wives/husbands angle is a definite goal. To be honest, that’s one of the reasons that Shi-chan and I make spectacles of ourselves in print and on television: the way I see it, Androids and Gynoids are literally just around the corner; they probably won’t be commonplace for a good 30 – 40 years, but Synthetik humans will eventually be a slowly growing part of the populace. After our own fashion, Sidore and I are just trying to get society accustomed to the idea of an Organik person being in a relationship with a Synthetik one, or vice versa. Frankly, the day that relationships like that are as commonplace as interracial or homosexual ones, to the point where it no longer raises eyebrows, will be a great day…

So I guess R. Stevens, mastermind behind the webcomic Diesel sweeties, read the Physorg.com article as well, as evidenced here. Good eye, sir! That really just enforces what I’d linked to in a previous post, concerning how Diesel sweeties is more of a comic ‘strip’ that looks more towards the future, as opposed to relying on humour standbys and crutches that have been flogged to death since the Forties and Fifties. It’s advanced and sophisticated in every way!

And wahey, Sweetie’s posted a couple of new clips to her Dailymotion page, as it’s that time of the month again. Wow, that was incredibly inappropriate.
In the interim, enjoy your 23rd responsibly! Or not, see if I care

Technorati tags: Android, Gynoid, Actroid, EveR-1, EveR-2 Muse, Diesel Sweeties

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Nov 2012) on November 25th, 2012

Lonely hearts, lunar beauty, new faces, and much explanation on September 12th, 2012

6 have spoken to “Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Mar 2007)”

  1. rstevens writes:

    you are correct on that article! i think machines deserve at least the same rights as simple animals. my computer is far more my friend than a fish could be.

  2. Davecat writes:

    Computers do more than fish do as well! But they don’t taste as good, so I suppose it all works out…

    Like I’d said, hopefully it’s just a matter of time and zeitgeist-shifting. Then maybe we’ll see more Clangos and Mauras out there. 🙂

  3. Tim writes:

    Your passion for Synthetik love reminds me of an Astro Boy comic by Osamu Tezuka. “A Declaration of Robot Rights,” published amid the civil rights movements of the late 1960s, includes the SF tale of a man who falls in love with a female robot even though such relationships are taboo since robots are treated as slaves. He puts her in storage and waits for times to change, gradually having his own organs replaced by artificial ones until the only part of him that is human is his head. Then one day, world governments proclaim equal rights for robots, and he reactivates her, anticipating matrimonial bliss. But fate has something else in store for them…

  4. Davecat writes:

    Heh — I gotta be me. 🙂 That Astroboy story arc definitely sounds like something I have to hunt down…

    More than likely, that paradigm shift isn’t going to happen overnight, but I’m hoping it takes place within our lifetimes. Cos honestly, cybernetic body part replacement ain’t exactly cheap! In all seriousness, the idea of Synthetiks in society, whether coworkers, life partners, or what have you, is just something that people will eventually grow accustomed to over time; it’s simply a matter dispelling peoples’ preconceived notions. Freaks today, pioneers tomorrow. 😉

    Interestingly enough, with the fact that you have an Organik human in that story who has his body parts replaced with mechanical ones rather sounds like Dororo — also a Tezuka tale. Imagine that!

  5. SafeTinspector writes:

    “as the population ages, the Japanese are increasingly looking toward robots to help make up the labor shortfall.”

    This reminds me a lot of the “spacers” in Asimov’s Robot Dawn. Although that was more alarmist, in which the society had become so defendant on robots that actual physical contact between real humans had become taboo and the resulting population decline was well-nigh apocalyptic.

    ‘Course, I tend to welcome the rise of the robots for more practical reasons. We need the robots to get sentient so that they can take over when we’ve rendered this little greenhouse untenable.

  6. SafeTinspector writes:

    dePendent, not defendent.

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