Guess which country is betting on robots... No, guess!

Your future bath assistant: Not yet waterproof, but adequately creepy. Those eyes...
Your future bath assistant: Not yet waterproof, but adequately creepy. Those eyes...Courtesy JanneM
Yes! You were totally right! It’s Japan!

JGordon, “betting on robots” is more than a little bit vague. What exactly do you mean?

Good question, Guy. What I’m getting at is this: Japan’s population is shrinking. Birthrates are much too low to sustain current population levels, and, just like our baby boomer generation, a huge chunk of the population is racing toward old age. By 2030, it’s thought that the size of the Japanese workforce will shrink by 16 percent, leaving the country with a couple of problems to consider: who will replace all those workers, and who is going to help take acre of all those old folks? It’s the sort of situation often alleviated by a foreign workforce, but Japan is unused to, and generally unwilling to accept, large-scale immigration. So what’s the solution?

Robots, obviously.

The oddly-named think tank, Machine Industry Memorial Foundation (maybe something was lost in translation), has proposed that robots be used to help make up for the declining workforce. From vacuumbots to robo nannies, robots could be filling the jobs of 3.5 million people by 2025. That doesn’t necessarily mean the robot population of Japan will increase by that number—we all know that one robot can do the work of several humans.

MIMF also points out that a robot workforce could also make it so that older people no longer “have to rely on human nursing care,” saving the government 21 billion dollars in elderly insurance payments. Robots could do housework, read aloud, and “help bathe the elderly.” We all know how much people hate human contact, especially the elderly, so I’d say things are shaping up pretty well for the pensioners of Japan.

Naturally, there are some obstacles to this perfect robot future. I won’t even get into the obvious ones, but robot technology, high cost, and, MIMF points out, human mindsets need to adjust to robot workers, leading to my favorite quote of the spring. Says one MIMF researcher, “People need to have the will to use the robots.”

So right.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Andy Korman's picture
Andy Korman says:

cool now i dont have to shower myself and my back will be the cleanest

posted on Sun, 04/13/2008 - 1:10pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Totally. I'm sick of having a dirty back.

posted on Sun, 04/13/2008 - 1:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

maybe you should wash more

posted on Sun, 04/13/2008 - 3:34pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Maybe. Or maybe a robot should wash me more.

posted on Sun, 04/13/2008 - 7:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I'm on my way to Japan to check out just how rapidly this insanity is spreading. I should be able to let you know within 36 hours if my son (temporarily residing in Japan) appears to have been bathed by a robot. Or not. I'm not at all sure he has the will.

posted on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 5:41pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I know you!
No, your boy hasn't got the will, nor, I expect, would he put up with some touchy robot.

posted on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 9:08am
emma's picture
emma says:

I want one of these robots so then I don't have to clean my room. And do my chores

posted on Sat, 03/28/2015 - 6:47pm
hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

cool, japan is on top of robots

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:40am
zephyr's picture
zephyr says:

this would be nice to have robots

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:42am
hawa's picture
hawa says:

I know that pretty cool to have robots you know.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 1:49pm
Amanda M's picture
Amanda M says:

I dont think it will be possible for a robot to act like a human or to serve a human like i dont know i really dont believe it will ever happen and the day it does i will be stunned.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:42am
LEE's picture
LEE says:

it'll be great to have a robot do things for you. although hopefully it won't turn out like i-robot, if you know what i mean.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:10am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

Man Y We Need Robots When We Got Others To Take Care Of Us In The Showers...
For Example, When Little, Our Moms Take Care Of Us In The Bath Tub
Nd Now, As Teenagers, We Take Care Of Ourselves...
So Wat's The Use Of Having Them, Unless Ur Lazy But No Offense To U Guys Who Agree To Have Em...

U Kno Wat Im Sayin!!!

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:10am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

In Japan, a low birthrate means that as today's workers age, there will be fewer people to help care for them. Many elderly people can remain independent if they have help with some household tasks. And showering can be dangerous without strength and balance. Robots may be able to fill those needs.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:18am

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