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Aging Japan Looks to Bots For Care 139

An anonymous reader writes to mention a Yahoo! news article about robotics in Japan. While many research bots are working on interacting with their environment, some of Japan's commercial robotics are focusing on building bots for elderly care. From the article: "The 100-kilogram (220-pound) robot can also distinguish eight different kinds of smells, can tell which direction a voice is coming from and uses powers of sight to follow a human face. 'In the future, we would like to develop a capacity to detect a human's health condition through his breath,' Mukai said. Japan is bracing for a major increase in needs for elderly care due to a declining birth rate and a population that is among the world's longest living." That sure sounds familiar.
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Aging Japan Looks to Bots For Care

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  • In the future, all that Japan will have left would be Gundams... feh.
    • Japan building robots to take care of the elderly just means less jobs for their youth, which means less incentive to have kids in the first place.

      If Japan is going fully into a robotic society, how exactly is this good in the long term? In the short term sure it seems like it could help the economy but in the long term its just less jobs and a slower economy for Japan. So they could either pay people to take care of the elderly, or build robots. If Japan builds robots, then there will be less service jobs
      • Japan building robots to take care of the elderly just means less jobs for their youth, which means less incentive to have kids in the first place.

        You have to problem backward... It's more along the lines of:
        "Japan building robots to take care of the elderly because there is less youth"

        From Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JAPAN [wikipedia.org] ):

        "The Japanese population is rapidly aging, the effect of a post-war baby boom followed by a decrease in births as the country modernized in the latter part of t
        • Yeah you can blame problem 2 on problem 1, but problem 2 is still problem 2. You arent solving problem 1 by blaiming it on something else. If there arent enouh youth in Japan you arent encouraging more youth to want to live in Japan when you replace them with robots. I mean what kind of economy can function like this where old people just lay in bed all day while robots take care of them? I mean really, this is just doomed to fail.

    • Oh, yes! A nation full of old people riding giant robots of mass destruction. SUVs, take a hike!
  • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:43AM (#14955343)
    There was an older article (six months to a year and a half ago, maybe) about the elderly in Japan turning to robots.

    The article had an especially strong lead paragraph about an immigrant who would never be able to get a job taking care of the elderly because she was a foreigner and because she wasn't a robot; the point of the article was that racism is so strong in Japan that old people actually shy away from a human's touch when the human isn't the right kind, and that they prefer robots. (Well, that was one possible conclusion -- certainly there are others.)

    Does anyone remember seeing this? Any hints on how to track it down?
    • by jbarham ( 225640 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:23AM (#14955449)
      You're probably thinking of this article [economist.com].
      • no, no, I think he was looking for this [devilducky.com]. Must have been an add for it in the economist.

        btw, is anyone suprised that the Japanese are building robots for this purpose? I mean, what aren't the Japanese building robots for?
    • will they really want to be shovelling oldie shit and giving sponge baths? Nope they'll go get a better job down at the car factory or sort post or whatever.
    • Here [slashdot.org] you can find the ./ article.
    • Not racism, pride (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jotham ( 89116 )
      I don't think its so much racism as pride. Which is more preferrable, being able to push a button to raise your bed into a sitting position and then using an assisted walker to make it on your own to the bathroom (for the third time that night), or calling out weakly to your nurse at 4am and hoping they hear you and respond before you wet the bed.

      from the article you wanted (posted above)
      Interacting with other people can be difficult for the Japanese, he says, "because they always have to think about what
      • From a few Japanese Americans I have spoken too this is not exactly correct. Some Japanese women are not getting married or are getting married to non-Japanese men because they are EXPECTED to stay home and care for their husbands elderly parents. This not wanting to be a burden thing just doesn't seem to hold much water.
        I wouldn't dismiss the racism part of it so quickly. From what I have experienced many Japanese are still very racist.
        • What kind of society is a society in which the elderly and the youth are completely disconnected? I mean how exactly is knowledge going to pass down from generation to generation?

          Racism, as far as racism, this is religion. Racism is simply a religion. It's outdated, because soon we will have the technology to allow mothers to choose the race of their baby. Race is defined by only a few genes, so in the future I expect all of us to be one race.

          It's really simple, if you want to solve racism, then let's decid
      • I don't think Japan knows it yet, but the only reason the American economy is doing so well is because we actually do have a service economy. Japan is basically going to become a robot society, where everyone has a robot to do all the service jobs, so what exactly will Japanese people do? Expect 20%+ unemployement for the youth if there is any youth, and without massive immigration, their population will continue to decline.

        I honestly don't understand the logic of Japan's economic decisions, I do not unders
      • All of us have to think about what other people feel about what we say. They say these things as if language were a recent invention and that people in Japan have not mastered it or something? Seriously, I know not everyone has social skills, I'm not a social genius myself, but is it really that difficult to take care of grandpa or grandma? Is it really difficult to have compassion for the elderly?

        Even if you have no compassion and no heart at all, is it really that difficult to accept their money? Why give
    • There was an older article... about the elderly in Japan turning to robots.

      Where's Dr. Who when you need him?
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:44AM (#14955348)
    The problem with this type of research is that the elderly are among the least able to pay for the development in this area. Monies must be siphoned from other profitable medical areas like pediatrics and radiology in order to pay for advancements in elderly and hospice care.

    It makes sense, then, that the guy's name is Mukai. 'Mu' means 'none' or 'no' in Japanese. 'Kai' means 'shell'. So Mr. No Shells can also be read as Mr. No Clams. And if you ain't got no clams, you're one poor dude.
    • No, that's a lie, I love being pedantic. Anyway, Mr BadAnalogyMan by name, Bad Analogy by nature, his kanji is , not , which is Mr Facing The Well, if we want to try to put an English meaning on it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      your explanation about Dr. Mukai's name is wrong.

      here's Dr. Mukais' webpage, and as you see the his name in Kanji, he is "Muka" "i". The leteral meaning is "approaching" and "well"(water hole). There are many theories about the actual meaning.

      http://www.bmc.riken.jp/~tosh/index.html [riken.jp]
    • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:28AM (#14955456)
      Oh, the Japanese government is quite happy to throw LOTS of money at this problem. We're spending a couple million of it two floors below me as we speak. If you're ever find yourself in Gifu, drop by and we'll arrange for a demonstration (although, in fairness, the private industry bots kick our tail in every possible way -- my memory is getting a little rusty but I think it was the Honda bot that had our department head very vexed about after he saw it at the Aichi Expo). Our researchers are throwing most of their time at the hardware (cameras, mainly) and image processing algorithms/challenges.

      www.softopia.or.jp , although I don't think you'll find anything interesting about this project in specific if you can't read Japanese. But, anyhow, just trust me, How To Deal With Our Aging Society gets mentioned often enough in seminars here that you'd think it was Dilbertized like "business synergy paradigm" or something.

      • Aging has existed since society has existed. How do you deal with an aging society? The youth should get paid to take care of the elderly. Does it really make sense for the youth to create robots to replace themselves?

        If you are really from Japan and involved in this, can you please explain the logic to me on how this benefits the old or the young?
        • Aging has existed since society has existed, but it was accompanied by another human perinneal: the mathematical certainty of early death for the vast majority of the population. Japan has the aging, but not the early death (50% of the girls born today will see their 85th birthday). They've also got a depressed birthrate (off the top of my head, 1.1 -- 2.1 is the replacement rate).

          Yes, "pay the youth to take care of the elderly" sounds great in theory -- but where does their salary come from? From taxe

          • Death has always varied through different tribes, families and societies. Some societies always had low death rates because they didnt have disease, wars, or the kinds of problems that Europe went through during the dark ages. I think that life expectancy changes every generation. I think there could have been times in the past where Japan had an aging population as well, but they were culturally equiped to handle this. Now that they have tried to westernize, they adopted our system but missed out on some o
  • by dcapel ( 913969 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:50AM (#14955358) Homepage
    We have the problem of people in high places just looking out for themselves -- caring for them won't be their problem; life-extension or other medical advances won't be in developed in time to help them, etc.

    And the sad part is, when younger people get into those places, we will probably do that same thing.
    • I think the bigger reason why the US is not pouring money into elderly helping robots is that the US is significantly less xenophobic then Japan. The US is happy to throw open the borders and let cheap labor in. Robots are highly unlikely to be cheaper then Mexican labor any time soon. Japan on the other hand has fanatically strict anti-immigration rules and are extremely xenophobic. Their xenophobia goes double and triple if you are black or another Asian.

      To give you an idea of there level of xenophobi
      • Interesting to note that even though the US has tougher immigration and naturalization policies than Japan (save the dual citizenship thing), and even though most countries with an aging population problem also have a chronic shortfall in geriatric nurses, if a Japanese company works on developing robots, they are suddenly labelled as "xenophobic" by the luddites, who have stereotypes of the Japanese people to back themselves up.
        • Interesting to note that even though the US has tougher immigration and naturalization policies than Japan...

          Bullshit. Look up the word "jus sanguinis". Better yet, let me just tell you what it means.

          Japan is a jus sanguinis state, meaning that it recognizes citizenship by blood, not by birth (as is the case in the United States, Ireland and many other countries). Article 2 provides three situations in which a person can become a Japanese citizen at birth:

          1) When either parent is a Japanese citizen at th
        • It is basically fact that there is Xenophobia in Japan. There is Xenophobia in America as well.

          I think Xenophobia is not the same thing as racism. A person can be Xenophobic in that they may not trust or like how someone else looks, but racism is a religious belief system. Xenophobia can be removed over time as a person learns more about other people, and this happens when immigration occurs and people are around and have with with many different people. Racism on the other hand never ends because it is a r
      • You compare the US and Japan, and wonder why the US isn't spending as much money in research for the elderly. Japan has one of the slowest population growth rates, while the US has a healthy, relatively normal population growth rate. Japan's problem is an increasing elderly population and and a shrinking young population. Given these facts, is the only explanation that you can give why Japan is spending more money in elderly care, is anti-Japanese stereotype? The Korean Japanese are not banned from receivin
      • I think that America has racism too, but America cares more about the economy than religion. If you look at our religious beliefs, all of these beliefs are ignored if its bad for the economy.

        Race is a religious belief, it's not supported by science, it's a religion. The science basically has found the cure for race, and that cure is stem cell research and genetic engineering. So the arguement that race is preventing Japan from solving it's economic problems, well, if Japan solved it's economic problems the
  • by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:58AM (#14955377) Homepage
    Versus about 4 million yen for a real live nurse, if only Japan was more accepting of foreign labour to look after all the old folk.
    • Versus about 4 million yen for a real live nurse, if only Japan was more accepting of foreign labour to look after all the old folk.

      You mean on that overcrowded earthquake prone island?

      LK
    • Versus about 4 million yen for a real live nurse, if only Japan was more accepting of foreign labour to look after all the old folk.

      Well, there's Japan and then there's the Japanese old people in question, which don't exactly like it either. There's still a lot of people that remember WWII, and face it - a lot of old people are stuck in the past. If I go to the nearest nursing home I think I can find a lot of attitudes that are out of touch with the average inhabitant. Indecency, sex before marriage, kids b
  • Avoid the parents. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:04AM (#14955392)
    A Japanese girlfriend of mine has a sick mother who needs constant care all of the time. Nobody is at home to look after her. The father needs to work to pay the bills. She doesn't want to quit her job to stay home to look after her. It is expensive to live in Japan, and it's boring to stay home and look after parents. She doesn't want to do it... in fact none of the family want to do it. She doesn't want to throw her future and career away to do it. Her whole family feels that her mother is a real burden to everyone else, and the whole family wishes that she would just go into a hospital and not be an extra thorn in everyone's lifestyle.

    I just can't help but feel that it's very sad that it comes down to needing a robot, but I guess lifestyles and nuclear families are upsetting Japan's old age care system.
    • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:39AM (#14955479)
      Lifestyles and the changing family structure is one part of the consideration... the other is just plain old demographics. Japan is aging, fast. The birthrate is slowing to a crawl. I don't have a copy of the powerpoint slide on me (saw it at our research meeting last week, I work for the gov't here and a lot of the research involves "how to equip society to deal with a lot of aged folks", including a portion of our robot research) at the second but the Ministry of Health & Welfare forcasts 1 out of every 3 Japanese to be over the age of 65 by either 2020 or 2050.

      There is no way you can make one-to-one care work at that proportion. Japan is currently experimenting with a variety of methods for alleviating this: the current profusion of old folks homes, for example, breaks the traditional one-caretaker-who-is-probably-a-daughter-or-inlaw- per-elderly paradigm. Then there are bots and immigration. I guess I benefit rather directly from policies which encourage the later :) But in the end its going to have to be a confluence of efforts.

      Of course, this problem on the societal scale is closely related to the low birthrate (Japan hovers at something like, off the top of my head, 1.1). Yeah. Combine that with an average life expectancy which is the highest in the world and increases every year and demographics sure look like destiny.

      • If Japan actually were more accepting of immigrants, they'd have higher birth rates, and they'd have people to take care of their elderly. The only reason this couldnt work is if the elderly were completely racist and were going to insult the immigrant workers. In that case the robots would be the only option. Under any situation, this looks bad for Japan's national image.

    • I guess the societal traditions are going to have to change. In the US they would just toss the mother in an old age home and pay through the nose.
    • s/Japan/American/g

      Just as accurate.

      Eventually, when enough of a population is not working, the society must either collapse (every other time in history) or create technology that's many orders of magnitude cheaper then a human to take care of all the non-working humans.

      So, add up all the kids under 18 not allowed to work, people over 65 also not allowed, people in the 47 year windows between that cannot work for some reason physical, mental, or unemployment. That better be a small fraction of the ones that
    • I don't find it sad. In the future, absolutely everything will be done by robots anyway. Japan's shrinking birth rates, unwillingness to take care of older generations and irrational fear of foreigners will just allow them to be early adaptors for the future of robotics.
      • If everything will be done by robots, why do we need people, and what should a young Japanese person reading this think?

        I mean, if robots will replace all young people in Japan, this explain the high suicide rates of young people in Japan, its not a good message to send.
    • A Japanese girlfriend of mine has a sick mother who needs constant care all of the time. Nobody is at home to look after her. The father needs to work to pay the bills. She doesn't want to quit her job to stay home to look after her. It is expensive to live in Japan, and it's boring to stay home and look after parents. She doesn't want to do it... in fact none of the family want to do it. She doesn't want to throw her future and career away to do it. Her whole family feels that her mother is a real burden t
  • by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:11AM (#14955412) Homepage
    He's called RI-MAN [riken.jp], Robot Interacting with huMAN. No word on his pushing or shoving capabilities, vis-a-vis a stair-rich environment.
  • Matrix .2? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Heembo ( 916647 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:13AM (#14955421) Journal
    Sorry man, that just a few steps to close to being used as batteries!
  • Although a robot is being built, the developers are still a long way from making a commercially available product. By the time the functionality and usability of the robot is at the standard required, the user's needs may have changed, as will their price range. We're still a long way from seeing robots caring in an everyday household.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... Selling Robot Insurance. Because robots steal old people's medications and use it as fuel... and robots are strong...
  • by Whiteox ( 919863 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:42AM (#14955487) Journal
    I for one, welcome our breath-smelling robot overlords!
    • From the article... ...building bots for elderly care...The 100-kilogram robot can also distinguish eight different kinds of smells

      Would that would be
      • Urine
      • Boiled Cabbage
      • Moth Balls
      • Lavender
      • Dusty Curtains
      • Stale cigarette smoke
      • Fish
      • and more urine
  • I'm glad I got grandma to sign up for Old Glory Robot Insurance [youtube.com].
  • ...the last thing I want after a long life of working hard is to have "Short Circuit" taking care of me. Funk that, I'll take up skydiving without the parachute, thank you very much.
  • I have seen several types of articles on robots for the elderly. One that comes to mind is one that was on here quite a while ago. It was robot that was almost completely mechanical (few electronics) powered by compressed air and controlled wirlessly via a pentium 4. At a price tag of 100k US it was not too expensive concidering nursing homes generally cost more then that per year. This was supposed to be released quite a while ago (2-3 years i thnk) and could vacume and wash dishes as well as other thing
  • Labor is cheaper (Score:3, Interesting)

    by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:05AM (#14955536) Homepage Journal
    In countries near and around japan labor is cheap, dirt cheap. Philipines, Malaysia, Taiwan, the list can go on. I'd expect this robot to cost no less than 70-80k and would only be for the extremely wealthy %1 of the population.

    For the average japanese joe in thier sunset years, they're more likely to import labor from other countries to work in thier nursing home facilities (why not? We already import Filipino nurses like crazy in california) for the price of 1 robot, you could pay the salary of 4 imported nurses, or a nursing home facility.

    And despite the report saying there is a decline in birth rates, everyone has family to lean on at some point.

    Realistically, would you want to be taken care of a cold, unloving robot that couldn't imagine what I was feeling? What's this thing going to do, detect if I stop breathing and call the coroner? No thanks.
    • Given how cold and uncaring I've seen imported labour to be in UK nursing homes I personally would rather be looked after by the robot. Plus it's less embarrassing to get a robot to wipe your arse than ask some nurse to do it.
    • The trouble is that importing workers isn't so easy because Japan is so restrictive about immigration. They'll let you work for 1-3 years, anything longer than that is extremely difficult to get approval for. And becoming a citizen is just about impossible. Even when you're born in Japan, you aren't automatically a citizen unless your parents are also. So workers will prefer to go elsewhere where they have a realistic chance of being able to settle down with full rights.
  • Screw intelligent robots! Screw AI in general. We already have it. It's called the human brain. Let's stop working on computer AI (as it applies to inteligent robots) and start figuring some of the following things.

    1: How to stop the brain from degenerating from the age of 30 onwards
    2: How to connect the brain to robotic limbs (direct attach)
    3: How to disconnect the brain from the body (o2 source, nitrition, remove byproducts of metabolism etc)

    Tah-dah, no more old people. Just robotic bodies wi
    • by Profound ( 50789 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:54AM (#14955647) Homepage
      You need people to get old and die.

      Most people who lived believing that demonic posession rather than germs were responsible for sickness died still believing it. They were just eventually replaced by people whose minds were open to new theories.

      If people don't die die, old (wrong) ideas will never die, and humans will never improve.
      • If people don't die die, old (wrong) ideas will never die, and humans will never improve.

        I don't believe that at all. The reason "old people" fail to continue learning is precisely because they know they aren't going to live very long.

        If that wasn't the situation, society would change... Right now, it's pretty much expected that you go to school until you're in your 20's, then you NEVER GO AGAIN. That could quite easily be changed, forcing older people to re-learn what they know every few decades, includ

        • There is a difference between not learning (ie not keeping up with new, updated theories) and continuing with your belief and values.

          Most people do not question their values because they have invested too much into them, not because they figure they won't get much out of it as they're due to die soon. Lets think of an example:

          An old preacher retires from the ministry and one day is offered a religious text from a different faith. He declines to read it, saying he is happy believing what he believes. Why?

          a)
          • Well, even if the second was the case, longer life could influence that too. So what if you've dedicated 200 years of your life to something, if you have another 1000 years of healthy life ahead of you? Attribute it to a mislead youth.
          • There is a difference between not learning (ie not keeping up with new, updated theories) and continuing with your belief and values.

            A very small difference.

            b) He had dedicated his entire life to his religion, and was not receptive to something that tells him he had been wrong all that time.

            There's a big difference between being wrong all your life, and being wrong for the first 1/3rd of your life, or so... In the former case, your example may hold, but in the latter case, probably not.

            Besides, the actual

      • Do you really want memories of wars, of terrorising leaders, of the horrors of Facism and Stalinism to die alongside these people? If you've lived through 5 dictatorships, and 5 democracies, you have a better judgement of what is right than if you live healthy for just 65 years, and live half you life wanting change, then half your life regretting it, feeling the old days where better.

        I have a Portuguese girlfriend, and she tells me the young population of Portugal today sometimes says they think they need
      • That is awfully shortsighted and I can't help but think that people that think like you will eventually die off and be replaced by people who don't mind people living forever.

        Since, only people who believe that living forever is ok will be around... But seriously people change their mind and what if we still had great minds around today. You are thinking that society improves just by people dying off. Well that is not the case... Society improves by medical, scientific, and technological advancements, not b
        • >> Hell... Wouldn't it be better if those people were around today? I'm still sure Newton would have loved to have all the tools our scientists have today.

          Newton probably would have used his clout to condemn Einsteins theory that exposed flaws in his own. That is, if he dragged himself away from searching for bible codes, which is what he spent the last part of his life on.
  • In Japan, only old people have care-bots.
  • We have a project here in Latvia already some time around in wich scientists of Physics institute have developed an electronic sensor - so called "nose" that can distinguish some 10 thousands of smells. http://www.cfi.lu.lv/ [cfi.lu.lv] http://www.cfi.lu.lv/ionics/CFI_lapai_lat/e-nose.h tm [cfi.lu.lv] (quite ugly page and latvian only) should i bring those guys in contact .. ummm..
  • I wondered what would bring humanoid robots into the mainstream, and this looks like it. As the world, not only Japan, population ages and there are fewer people to provide care, the economic drivers to satisfy demand really kicks in...

    I love the 21st century
  • Bot - probably an unfortunate choice of name considering what caring for the elderly almost always comes to involve.
  • Roujin Z (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:25AM (#14955714) Homepage Journal
    Anime has already tackled this subject by none other than the creator of the pop-culture anime-film AKIRA.

    Roujin Z ( See http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/630506251X/qid=11 42849877/sr=8-2/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-2542910-4413459?_ encoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=130 [amazon.com] ) was an anime film about a computerized hospital bed that is supposed to care for an elderly patient. However, the computer turns out to be a prototype for a battle robot and to top it off, the damn thing takes on the personality of his former wife, and therein starts a chase through Japan, tearing up the countryside, as the bed tries to take the patient on a trip to the beach, one last time.

    Overall, it's a pretty decent film and very amusing as well.

    • I too thought of the exact same thing when I was reading the summary. About half way through I figured I would make a post about that movie, but my dreams were dashed when I got to the end and actually clicked on one of the links.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    An elderly Japanese man wakes up in a small, white, hermetically-sealed room. He's alone, except for a shiny metal robot with red glowing eyes.

    The robot hands him a note, which reads, "Dear Honorable Father: Given the rising cost of healthcare and living, we've decided to have your interned for your own good. The robot will take care of your every bodily need, feed you nutritious OldsterChow(TM) and constantly monitor your lifesigns. Because we don't want you getting sick by being exposed to other ill peopl
  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:02AM (#14955764)
    ...and all that crap. All the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans I've ever known from those countries take family obligations and expectations very seriously. (Warning! Gross generalization detected!)

    I find it hard to believe that a culture as deeply grounded in society and family as the Japanese would actually "abandon" their elderly. I'm more inclined to believe that there are simply not enough young bodies to care for the old bodies. Caring for an elderly person who is losing mobility and strength is a lot of work, and it seems the older they get, the more they try to hang on to their independence. Tools that will compensate for the deficiencies of an aging body are a way to allow a person to be independent longer and maintain their dignity. Nursing care is when you have to be given baths, medications, meals and helped to walk or wheel to the bathroom. Independence is being able to dress yourself, go where you want, transport your own groceries, clean your own house, cook your own food and accomplish the tasks that make your life worth living, such as gardening or reading. Reading books might now take a magnifying glass, but the magnifying glass gives you the independence to read the book when and where you want. (The average Japanese living space is crowded with lots of things in too little space. It's a lot like living in a submarine. Things are put away, and many times lots of things must be moved to do ordinary tasks like sewing or ironing. For the elderly, this could present a major problem.)

    The immigration of nursing care is probably acceptable to someone who needs it, but a "companion" from a different culture, who doesn't share your history and doesn't speak your language well, is less desirable than being independent. (I wonder how many of the people who point to the availability of Indonesian and Filipino "care assistants" are the same who bitch because the Dell or HP technical support in Bangalore doesn't meet their standards..!?! Why is not wanting to be touched by a cultural stranger more "racist" than wanting to be able to clearly understand the person at the other end of the tech support phone?)

    Mike Burke
  • It seems for a long time that Japan has been developing the really bleeding-edge, twenty-first century, products and services. Why is America's economy still considered the premier economy of the world? Is it because so many international companies are based on the U.S.? Is it because we have the political clout to set up advantageous-to-us trade deals/relationships?

    Someone let me know. Because I just don't get it.
    • America has a stronger economy because we use technology to support and improve our economy. We have super computers calculating for us on industry growth and projections. We have it down to a science, and we have mastered economics. Japan has not mastered the economic fundamentals. Japan's economy right now is not as fast because they don't have immigrants. America has an illegal immigration problem, but in general immigration is neccessary to keep an economy strong.

      I also think that in America, we arent
  • In Japan, bots play with you.
  • .... a terminator rolls of the destruct line. Equipped with state of the art systems and the ability to kill in a thousand different ways, it has only one mission. To give an old guy an enema.
  • We've got 'em in the USA too, except here they're usually in charge of patient authorizations in managed care plans.
  • can also distinguish eight different kinds of smells

    including ex-dogfood?
  • Why is it that when I read these things, I Robot comes to mind?

    On another note, it wouldn't be a bad thing to have some facility in older folks' homes that can sense extreme health events. More than the buttons for "I've fallen and can't get up." Something that can sense seizures, heart events, and labored breathing.

    The good news is, that dogs can be trained to "see" many of these types of events, and can help their owner out quite a bit. Dogs have the added benefit of giving their owner companionship.
  • Are there eight different kinds of feces?
  • I actually submitted this article on Friday...I guess my write in sucked.
  • Accidentally 'kill' a pensioner are given an Uzi by the U.S. Armed Forces and 're-educated' in the ways of personal care. War-Cry: 'Uzi nine millimetre, ass-holiez!'
  • In Soviet Russia, you take care of the robots?

    (Sorry to ask, I'm new in these "Soviet Russia" jokes)
  • A great collection of articles on Social Change in Japan [japanfocus.org] on japanfocus.org. [japanfocus.org]

    Some articles relevant to the present discussion:

  • Is on Anime on Demand right now if anyone is interested :-) (and has comcast's on demand service)....

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