“The ancient Shinto religion, practiced by 80 percent of Japanese, includes a belief in animism, which holds that both objects and human beings have spirits. As a result, Japanese culture tends to be more accepting of robot companions as actual companions than is Western culture, which views robots as soulless machines. In a culture where the inanimate can be considered to be just as alive as the animate, robots can be seen as members of society rather than as mere tools or as threats.”
A world in which we walk side by side and converse with intelligent robots is dawning. What’s more, as Alec Ross touches upon in the Industries of the Future, we already know where this world is appearing quickest.
“The combination of cultural, demographic, and technological factors means that we will get our first glimpse of a world full of robots in East Asia.”
Ross goes on to describe the exciting realm of nanotechnology.
“Nanorobots, still in the early phases of development, promise a future in which autonomous machines at the scale of 10-9 meters (far, far smaller than a grain of sand) can diagnose and treat human diseases at the cellular level.”
From our point of view, it’s difficult to see just how this dynamic new environment will function, and whether or not we’re going to be comfortable with it.
“Just as it would have been difficult in the days of dial-up modems to imagine an Internet video service like YouTube streaming over 6 billion hours of video every month, it is difficult for us to imagine today that lifelike robots may walk the streets with us, work in the cubicle next to ours, or take our elderly parents for a walk and then help them with dinner.”
And as time goes by, more questions are going to be raised that we couldn’t have foreseen. Such as the one we face regarding the ethics of self-driving cars.
“We have grown to accept that driving leads to more than 1 million deaths a year. Would we accept a computer-based system that produces tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands instead from driverless cars?”
Yet cars are not the only industry in which these types of ethical and moral questions are coming into the fray.
“The number of robotic procedures is increasing by about 30 percent a year, and more than 1 million Americans have already undergone robotic surgery.”
For more visions of the future, grab Alec Ross’ The Industries of the Future from Amazon.