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Thread: Meet the Robots Powering Japan's New Tech Movement

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    Default Meet the Robots Powering Japan's New Tech Movement


    On this episode of Hello World, Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance heads to Japan to find people who are trying to wake the country up from its technological slumber. His journey goes from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. Along the way, he meets with Japan’s top roboticists making lifelike androids. He heads to Hitachi’s vaunted research labs to see the machines – robot helpers and autonomous vehicles - that the company thinks will take care of Japan’s senior citizens in the years to come. And he hangs out with a host of eccentric characters from robotics hobbyists to the world’s most prolific inventor–an 88-year-old man who claims to have invented both the floppy disk and the most stimulating sex potion known to man.




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    In Japan, a rapidly aging population and declining birth rate are creating a crisis. Without enough people to fill jobs and care for the elderly, could robots step up to fill the gap? Could they even become, as some robotics engineers hope, "better than human?" CBSN Originals takes you into the heart of Japan's looming population collapse, and examines the robot solutions they hope will preserve their unique culture.

    If there’s one place on Earth you can already get a glimpse of our robot-assisted future, it’s Japan. Routinely at the forefront of robotics research, the country has brought us some of the weirdest automatons, most lifelike androids, and cutest helper-bots. Nowhere is this more evident than at Nagasaki’s Henn-na Hotel, a hotel run by robots that opened this year. Walk into reception and a mechanised dinosaur will guide you through check-in; go to your room and a luggage bot will wheel your suitcase along beside you; get ready for bed and your own robot companion will turn out the lights. Henn-na Hotel CEO Hideo Sawada sells his offering as part of a utopian vision where robots take over manual labour so humans can turn their attention to more creative pursuits. Replacing staff with robots might reduce labour costs, but their appeal to visitors needs to last beyond novelty value. Motherboard host Ben Ferguson checks into the robot hotel in the first episode of our new travel series Voyager, made possible by travel tool KAYAK (http://www.kayak.co.uk/). The robot workers he meets are courteous and communicative, but can they emulate the human warmth of their flesh-and-blood counterparts? Could robots really be our future holiday companions, or do man and machine ultimately get lost in translation?


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