Thursday, December 08, 2016

Pushed by declining population, Japan is making robot babies to inspire women to get pregnant (Video)

Image result for Japan is hoping robot babies will encourage people to have real babies
Japan is hoping robot babies will encourage people to have real babies.
Driven by a declining population, a trend for developing robotic babies has emerged in Japan as a means of encouraging couples to become “parents.”

To understand all of this, it is worth exploring the reasons behind the need to promote population growth in Japan. The issue stems from the disproportionate number of older people. Predictions from the UNsuggest that by 2050 there will be about double the number

of people living in Japan in the 70-plus age range compared with those aged 15 to 30. This is blamed on a number of factors including so-called “parasite singles,” more unmarried women, and a lack of immigration.
So, what are the different design approaches that are being taken to encourage more people to become parents? These have ranged from robots that mimic or represent the behavior of a baby to robots that look much more lifelike. Engineers at Toyota recently launched Kirobo Mini, for example, as a means of promoting an emotional response in humans. The robot does not look like a baby, but instead models “vulnerable” baby-like behaviors including recognizing and responding to people in a high-pitched tone, and being unstable in its movements.

At the other end of the spectrum is Yotaro, a robotic baby simulator that uses projection technology for its face so it can simulate emotions and expressions. The simulator also models reaction to touch, mood, and even illness through a built-in runny nose.

The use of social robots in general raises many issues, both ethical and technical. The problem of declining birth rates is, however, a real and growing problem in a number of nations. Robot babies may not directly prove to be a solution, but it may lead to research that offers better understanding and insight into the problem of birth rate decline.

Watch video below:

Article originally published on THE CONVERSATION

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