英文版 ロボット - Loving the Machine (英語) ハードカバー – 2006/5
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Japan stands out for its long love affair with humanoid robots, a phenomenon that is creating what will likely be the world's first mass robot culture. While U.S. companies have produced robot vacuum cleaners and war machines, Japan has created warm and fuzzy life-like robot therapy pets. While the U.S. makes movies like "Robocop" and "The Terminator," Japan is responsible for the friendly Mighty Atom, Aibo and Asimo. While the U.S. sponsors robot-on-robot destruction contests, Japan's feature tasks that mimic nonviolent human activities. The Steven Spielberg film, "AI," was a disaster at the world box office-except in Japan, where it was a huge hit. Why is this? What can account for Japan's unique relationship with robots as potential colleagues in life, rather than as potential adversaries? Loving the Machine attempts to answer this fundamental query by looking at Japan's historical connections with robots, its present fascination and leading technologies, and what the future holds. Through in-depth interviews with scientists, researchers, historians, artists, writers and others involved with or influenced by robots today, author Timothy N. Hornyak looks at robots in Japan from the perspectives of culture, psychology and history, as well as technology; and brings understanding to an endlessly evolving subject. From the Edo-period humanoid automatons, through popular animation icons and into the high tech labs of today's researchers into robotic action and intelligence, the author traces a fascinating trail of passion and development.
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"Loving the Machine" again makes this promise, and again I am inclined to believe it. Author Timothy Hornyak plays show and tell, taking you on a guided tour through robotics from the primitive first attempts to the modern marvels of Asimo and the semi-android Replee Q1expo. They really are stunning, and one can almost feel the fire of creativity and inspiration driving modern robotics research. The scientists are building robots out of passion, out of a real sense of discovery rather than commerce, and that is what always drives technology forward. All of the different fields are coming together, mixing software with hardware, sharing breakthroughs and triumphs that far outnumber failures and disappointments.
Ostensibly, "Loving the Machine" is also about Japan's relationship with the robot, and it is. Japan's culture of robots stretches back into its distant past, with the Karakuri automatons that are still wonders of ancient technology, unable to be replicated today. Whereas Western cultures have Superman, Japan has Mighty Atom, the robot superboy. Whereas the US has GI Joe, Japan has the super robots Gundam and Mazinger Z. Japan has nurtured a deep-seated love for the robot, and the whole country holds its collective breath waiting for the first truly intelligent robot to announce its own birthday. However, in attempting to contrast cultures, this is where the book loses its footing. The author makes much of The Terminator and the Replicants from "Blade Runner", stressing the West's fear of technology out of control, but never mentions R2-D2 and C-3PO from "Star Wars", Rosie the Robot Maid from "The Jetsons" Johnny 5 from the films "Short Circuit," Bender from "Futurama," or Isaac Asimov's heartbreaking hero from "The Bicentennial Man" There is not even a mention of how the fearsome Terminator returns for a second movie, this time as the hero saving a young boy. While not on the same level, the West has also long had a love affair with cute, friendly robots who are friends and companions rather than just functional machines.
I've been let down before, but "Loving the Machine" has given me a boost, returning me to the childhood where, when asked to draw a picture of what I thought life would be like in the year 2000, I drew a happy home complete with robot butler and flying car. The flying car may be out of the question, but there is at least still some hope that I might live to see the first truly intelligent robot announce its own birthday. Frankly, I can't wait.
A better subtitle would be "The Art and Culture of Japanese Robots," for there is little science in this book. Very artfully illustrated, Loving the Machine traces robotics in Japan from 16th century puppets through the comic book robot Mighty Atom to the most recent humanoid and android robots.
Loving the Machine is not about science; it is about a subculture. This subculture is that of the Japanese creators of comic book robots and their hardware descendents. Except when quoting large sales figures for robot pets and the pervasiveness of industrial robots, the author rarely steps outside this subculture. Hornyak wants to pursuade the reader that the Japanese public is far more accepting of robots than is the Western public. This may be true but this book does not succeed in making this case.
The value of this book to this reader is in its description of this fantasy/entertainment subculture. Knowledge of this subculture should make recognition of progress in its surrounding culture more easily recognizable.
The book really shows how easily human-like robots are slipping in the psychie of Japan (and eventually the rest of us). Are we really ready for the coming robot world? Doesn't matter. We're all being softened up by these friendly and so nice robots. Nice, nice robots. Step by step with the help of their human inventors and advertisers, they've started their march into human society. I'd suggest watching the movie "I Robot" after you've read the book, or give both as a gift.
As a big sci-fi and mecha (robot genre) fan, I often wondered about the progress of robotic technology in America but also how America and Japan perceive the future of utilizing this technology. And what grabbed my attention of "LOVING THE MACHINE: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots" were a few sentences that instantly grabbed my attention.
Here, in America, when robot technology is featured, they are viewed as robots or computers who attain intelligence and want to rule over or destroy the world or humanity. With films such as "Terminator", "Eagle Eye", to even many science fiction novels, robots with intelligence are typically featured as technology that can go awry and humanity will be responsible for creating something that can kill us off.
Meanwhile, in Japan, robotics are seen differently. Integrated into society and it has been that way for a long time with the animation and manga series "Tetsuwan Atom" (Atom Boy) to humans piloting large mecha suits such as Gundam and moreso now as there have been a robot created after a newscaster, a robot serving drinks or food at a restaurant. There are two different perspectives of robotic technology.
"LOVING THE MACINE: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots" is a magnificent book on the Japanese perspective, creation and the utilization of robot technology written by Timothy N. Hornyak, who works at the International desk of Kyodo News.
I was immediately surprised to read that robot technology or the planning of clock-work automations were done back in the 1600's. There are prints that date back during the Edo Period of automations that were utilized in stage performances to tea-serving. Even blue prints from 1796 which Shoji Tatsukawa, a former Waseda University professor, used the prints to create a tea-serving doll.
Hornyak is very thorough when it came to his research in writing this book. Covering Japan hundreds of years ago and then featuring photography and interviews with modern technology representatives. One who said these early automations were what shaped the way the Japanese view robots.
Learning that Europe actually had more technically sophisticated creations which they attempted to reproduce human activities in machine form, Japanese looked at trying to create charm.
That was until the 1920's when there was a robot boom in Japan where people were creating many robots that were mainly non functional but nevertheless, looked futuristic and showed the forward thinking of these inventors.
By the 1930's, robots became a staple in Japanese pop culture. From magazines, comics, songs, radio episodes and more. But the person who brought the concept of robot to mainstream was manga artist Tezuka Osamu, the creator of Tetsuwan Atom (Atom Boy). A machine who was intelligent but emotional. A robot created not to be hurt mankind but a scientist who wanted to recreate a robot after the death of his son.
And of course, from then on, Japanese started utilizing robots in animation such as "Mazinger Z", "Mobile Suit Gundam", "Giant Robo", "Evangelion" and many more. It's a common thing to see in Japan as its so ingrained into Japan's pop culture. Go to a toy store and these popular robots or mecha can be seen in all sorts of merchandise.
But Japan's entry into making robots more humanlike began in the 1960's courtesy of Ichiro Kato, one of Japan's well-known roboticists. Robots walking, playing music on a keyboard. Unfortunately, Kato died in 1984 and his dream of creating a robot that would be humanlike was never achieved but Waseda University known for its Humanoid Robotics Institute would further their research into robot technology.
Mainstream robotics came to play around the 1990's. The most popular were Sony's Aibo which sold out within minutes when it was released back in 1999. The Aibo was not cheap but people who have purchased an Aibo would chronicle their lives on the Internet and showed how the regular Japanese cared for their robots.
But when it came to showcasing human-like movement of robots, automobile maker Honda became a company in the forefront. In fact, on Feb. 14, 2002, Honda's listing on the New York Stock Exchange featured their robot Asimo ringing the opening bell. And eventually, other companies such a Fujitsu, JVC and Toyota would have their own versions of robots.
As robots become more technologically advanced, as mentioned, I am a big sci-fi fan and often wondered when androids like Data of the popular "Star Trek: The Next Generation" would come to play, even though in its beginning stages, in our modern time.
Sure enough, by 2005, at the Aichi Expo was the introduction of Repliee Q1expo cloned after NHK news announcer Ayako Fujii. The creator of Repliee was Hiroshi Ishiguro, Director of Osaka University's Intelligent Robotics Laboratory and sure enough, he was an avid fan of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" android, Data. How an android can elicit natural responses in people and can be integrated into human society.
The potential of robot technology and the concept of androids is starting to become realized in Japanese culture and it's just amazing to read the news on how they are utilized at shows and schools.
Overall, Timothy N. Hornyak was successful in creating a book that features Japanese passion for robots but going as far as the 1600's to modern day with color photographs and interviews with key people involved with the creation of these robots. In fact, there are many forms of early to modern day robots presented in this book (with photos). It's absolutely a great resource for Japanese robotics and its history.
The book is well-written, well-researched and quite enjoyable. If you are a fan of robot or android technology, especially its perception and how they are utilized in Japanese society, I highly recommend checking this book out!