Avoiding interaction with technology…

This Economist article paints a vivid picture of the current situation in Japan where acceptance of technology (in this case robots) leads to maintaining closed any economic or social ties with other countries by providing for a technological solution. The fact is that Japan’s (as everyone else’s) elderly population is growing fast and instead of relying on perhaps foreign qualified workers to help that population in its health needs (which in a way would be admitting to a certain failure on their part) they are investing large amounts of money into the development of robot technology.

“What seems to set Japan apart from other countries is that few Japanese are all that worried about the effects that hordes of robots might have on its citizens. Nobody seems prepared to ask awkward questions about how it might turn out. If this bold social experiment produces lots of isolated people, there will of course be an outlet for their loneliness: they can confide in their robot pets and partners. Only in Japan could this be thought less risky than having a compassionate Filipina drop by for a chat.”

I think this is a distinct example of social circumstances shaped by technology in what i personally consider a very obtuse way…

Writing 'Creating a Culture of Innovation' (Out in 2020, Apress)

Comment (1)

  1. Beyond the social effects are, of course, the economic implications of eliminating whole employment spheres.

    But I’m also thinking in macro time-frames: if the general trend or aspiration is to work yourself into another economic class (earning enough money to get better jobs and better lifestyles, in other words), then what happens when entire societies turn over? Right now southeast asia takes advantage of filipino maids, just as California and other states in the US take advantage of cheap mexican and south american labor.

    However, once those societies climb into another economic stratum, who will become the supply of cheap labor? Or are all those social groups being lied to? Have they any hope of exiting their current social positions? (This is a question that Jared Diamond raises in his book Collapse)

    If it’s all a lie, what will their reaction be when they figure it out? Do you want them around when that happens? Suddenly, robots don’t seem like such a bad choice. It makes for a convenient split: the social help for the first world countries (robots) keep the first world citizens away from third-world labor that makes their lives and lifestyles possible.

    The above is a bit of a leap from motivations based on awkwardness, but could be feasible in the context of changing world environmental, economic, and social conditions.

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