Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Workshop 12 Speakers: Robotics in Japan: Local, Global and "Glocal" Influences and Applications

Military Robot Applications beyond Post-War Pacifist Norms? Japanese Robotics at a Crossroads

My paper addresses a significant shift in Japanese robotics triggered by recent changes in domestic science policy. A government program to promote military research has (re)kindled a controversy over pacifist norms within local academia and has posed the question of how to draw a sharp line between science and military. The problem of “dual use” becomes all the more crucial for robotics, especially because its products are developed as versatile apparatuses that potentially find wide-ranging applications. Using the concept of “institutionalized set use,” I analyze how Japanese roboticists cope with challenges emerging from this development.

Hironori Matsuzaki

Senior Researcher, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg (DE). Currently engaged in the research on ELS issues of care robotics (within the framework of the project “Pflegeinnovationszentrum”—funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research). He has published on a great variety of topics related to Japanese robotics, such as legal status and social role of anthropomorphic robots in Japan. Furthermore, he has conducted ethnographic research on robotic human science and social robotics in Europe and Japan.

Homepage: www.researchgate.net/profile/Hironori_Matsuzaki3

Android Robotics and the Conceptualization of Human Beings

Japan has for decades been a first-mover and pacemaker with respect to the development of humanoid and android robots [1]. In this conceptual paper, we aim to demonstrate how certain android robotic projects can be embedded and interpreted within a Japanese notion of nature, where the artificial is not opposed to nature and where conventionalized idealizations in general are cherished over original state of the latter [2]. Furthermore, we will discuss how android robots epitomize challenges to the macro and micro levels of society.

[1] J. Robertson, Robo Sapiens Japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family and the Japanese Nation, University of California Press, 2017.

[2] A. Kalland and P.J. Asquith, Japanese Perceptions of Nature - Ideals and Illusions, in: Japanese Images of Nature - Cultural Perspectives, A. Kalland and P.J. Asquith, eds., Curzon Press, Richmond, 1997, p. 36.

Marco Nørskov

Associate professor, Research Unit for Robophilosophy, Aarhus University (DK) and cooperate researcher, at the Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories, ATR (JP). Has published several papers and book chapters on human-robot interaction with focus on phenomenology and intercultural philosophy, android science/philosophy.

Homepage: www.person.au.dk/en/filmanp@cas

Anemone Platz

Associate professor, School of Culture and Society, sociologist in Japan Studies, Aarhus University (DK). Her research interest focuses on the effect of changing family relations on lifestyle and living forms in Japan.

Homepage: www.person.au.dk/en/ostap@cas

Hegemonic Bipedalism: Cultures of Robotic Exoskeletons in Japan and the United States

This paper explores the types of bodies privileged and enhanced by the makers of robotic exoskeletons and the premium placed on bipedalism. Differences and similarities, and areas of overlap, in the wearable robotics industries in Japan and the United States are explored along with comparisons of products aimed at local and global consumers. Interrogations about dominant constructions of bodies and mobility from disability rights activists provide critical perspectives on the robotic exoskeleton industry.

Jennifer Robertson

Professor, Departments of Anthropology and History of Art, and affiliate faculty, Robotics Institute, University of Michigan (USA). An anthropologist of Japan, Robertson has published several articles exploring aspects of the robotics industry and human-robot relations in Japan. Her latest book is Robo sapiens japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family, and the Japanese Nation (University of California Press, Fall 2017).

Homepage: www.jenniferrobertson.info

Technology for Communication: The Use of Robots in the Treatment of Autism in Japan.

During the past ten years, there has been an increasing public interest in the identification and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Japan. Social robotics has established itself as one of the forerunners in this field, designing and building robots to elicit interaction and communication. This paper examines this trend through a critical interrogation of the meaning of “social engagement” aspired by such roboticists.

Junko Teruyama

Assistant Professor at Faculty of Library, Information and Media Science, University of Tsukuba (JP). She earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2014. Her research focus is minorities such as children and teachers with disabilities in the Japanese school and education system as well as application of robotic technologies in this context.

Homepage: www.trios.tsukuba.ac.jp/en/researcher/0000003642

"Vision Assessment" of Robot Technology Futures in Japan–A Methodological Approach for the Analysis of Intersections between Robotics and Society in Japan.

Since the beginning of the 2000s the Japanese government has developed and promoted multiple scenarios for the implementation of robotics technology into everyday life, especially but not limited to the field of elderly care. This paper discusses the methodological approach of “technology futures” research (Technikzukünfte-Forschung) and its usefulness for the analysis of intersections between robotics and society in Japan. By peering into the “black box” of how processes of science and technology construction proceed, this paper examines how those processes shape, change, and/or reproduce specific constellations of societal order and governance.

Cosima Wagner

Scientific Librarian and Research Fellow at the Japanese Studies department of Freie Universität Berlin (DE). She has extensively studied robots in Japan from a Science and Technology Studies approach and published various papers on this topic as well as the book Robotopia Nipponica: Recherchen zur Akzeptanz von Robotern in Japan (2013, Tectum).