Japanese People are Getting Old – Fast. So… Robots!
Japan is one of those great examples of how, when a society reaches a certain stage of development, population can stabilize itself based simply on quality of life (economic well-being, healthcare, community, Golden Rule morality, etc.). There is a challenge, however: population decline. In arguably one of the world’s most advanced capitalist nations, where 70% of GDP is based on the services economy and nearly all national debt is public held, a big die-off is… big problematic. Sure, the population decline will be gradual – but it’s inexorable, and Japan has to prepare now. A very interesting and handsome and self-deluded individual covered Japan’s possible robotic contingencies over at:
Dear Assistive Robot Industry, We Need You.
Sincerely, Rapidly Aging Japan.
Make Robots, Not Babies?
A (perhaps questionable) study from the Japan Family Planning Association found that 1/3 of Japanese youth have no desire to get their groove on. They just don’t wanna hump each other. And as many of us know, it’s not just an enjoyable hobby, it’s where babies come from! Realistically, a decent number of respondents were probably lying, though. Because in Japan being fake polite and feigning ignorance to the nastiness & porno of human life is… a way of life (that’s a compliment – fake polite is far better than honest rude).
But actually, whether a large segment of the youth truly don’t want to make sweet love, or do, it doesn’t change the fact that Japan’s going to be running out of people. Factor in a rising women’s liberation, the destigmatization of birth control, and perceived economic instability – who knows what the actual equation looks like, but the answer is a birthrate of 1.39. And in case it’s not obvious, a birthrate of at least 2 is a replacement set for the parents, a population at stasis. Ain’t happening.
So, replacing the lost population with robots, thereby replacing a lost labor force and augmenting the consumer economy – well, seems like a decent enough course of action.
But you gotta wonder, why don’t they want sex AND robots?
Japan, sometimes you so cray.
Full disclosure again: this piece is coverage for a bit Anthrobotic’s admiral wrote for soon-to-be-shined-up-and-relaunched AkihabaraNews.com (it’s been two weeks now, and they still haven’t realized the depths of technosnarky smartassery with which they’ve associated themselves). No, actually they’re very bright – chances are high they’re way ahead and well hip. Jump on over and have a look:
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[YOUNG JAPANESE PEOPLE NOT INTERESTED IN GETTING IT ON – HUFF POST]
I would argue that declining population rates are due to more birth control rather than a resurgence of abstinence.
The big question, in my mind, is that if I am an elderly person, and I am stuck in a rest home or living alone in my small Japanese apartment, am I going to be able to anthropomorphize my Turning-Test passing robot companion enough so that I feel that I am not alone?
Or, the “big enchilada” question, am I really alone? I am alone in the house with a Roomba. I am alone in the house with a computer or a laptop or a cell phone. I am even alone is the house with a mainframe server fro a companion. At what point am I not alone? How much computing power has to be present before I say I am not alone in the house?
Conversely, I am not alone in the house with a dog, or even (perhaps arguably) a fish tank. Yet, our robots posses orders of magnitude more processing power than a fish brain, and probably even a dog brain. So, why am I alone with a computer and not alone with a fish tank?