It turns out that on same day, that Michael Fitzpatrick writing for The Independent (No. 4 in the world) also devoted two paragraphs to my thoughts on the electric dampdreams that the Japanese have for robots.
Electric dreams: Is it the end for robot development?
—We were promised a life of leisure thanks to hard-working robots and fiendishly clever cyborgs. But the android fantasy has largely been terminated, argues Michael Fitzpatrick—
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 | The Independent (UK)
For years technocrats have been touting robots as the next big revolution, so big that their importance will rival that of car production and that they will create a utopia, “an Athens without the slaves”….. . . [big snip] . . .“Without ‘consciousness’, robots are just spot welders, bolt-tightening arms, burger flippers, spray painters, and factory drones that can swivel dexterously back and forth in pre-programmed for assembly line work. They’re expensive toasters – one-trick-ponies. It will be many decades before anthropomorphic robots are going to be sentient,” says Taro Hitachi*, a Tokyo-based Japan blogger and an expert in patents. “Decades of creating fantasy robots, like Asimo, Aibo, Roborior et al, has bankrupted the research and development departments of Japan while not resulting in any viable products.”
Nor does he accept that Japan’s high robot count is a true reflection of the reality: “Japan counts almost any kind of semi-autonomous factory machinery as a ‘robot’, whereas in the rest of the world, milling machines and potato pealing machines are just factory automation.”
As mentioned in The Independent, one thing that really burns me is Japan’s public policy of GROSSLY inflating Japan’s number of “employed robots” and claiming to have more working robots in the world.
I specifically know that old-fashioned routers that were pushed along a funky sheet-metal templates/stencils by compressed air to cut plastic faceplates at Hitachi Odawara Works were factiously counted as “robots.”
My grandfather, who was a master machinist at Western Electric in 1939, made the same kind of “pneumatic router jigs.” He would be greatly amused that in Japan he would be called a “roboticist” and a “production engineer.” Ninety percent of the time when I meet an “engineer” in Japan I discover they don’t have any kind of engineering degree.
Note: The artical refers to me by my pen name Taro Hitachi—a corporate ‘John Doe’—that Hitachi forced me to use on all the books and papers I wrote them because of their corporate copyright policy. Hitachi was worried that I would run away to an even higher paying job if I was a “published author” and my name was listed as one of the authors of hundreds of Hitachi books, manuals, and papers that I wrote for them.