Beautiful…enlightening….a must-read for bot-obsessed humanoids. — Wired Magazine
It’s a fascinating history, rendered in words and bright photographs. — The Associated Press
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 humanoids and pet robots as ente
rtaining friends. 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.
What can account for Japan’s unique relationship with robots as potential colleagues in life, rather than as potential adversaries? Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots 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.
From the Edo-period humanoid automatons, through popular animation icons and into the high-tech labs of today’s researchers in robotic motion and intelligence, the author traces a fascinating trail of passion and development.
From the Publisher
A fascination with robots pervades Japanese culture, from cartoon shows to consumer toys to corporate engineering research. While in the West, robots are seen as threatening—think of the “Terminator”-style tales of technology out to destroy its human creators—in Japan, robots are far more commonly seen as partners, cooperating with the humanity whose image they wear. And several companies, including Honda, Sony, Fujitsu, and JVC, have spent millions in developing robots who return the investment not through money but by serving as technological ambassadors to the public. LOVING THE MACHINE: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots explores the reasons behind Japan’s unique affection for robots, and looks at the surprising direction in which robo-mania is taking the country.
Science and technology journalist Timothy N. Hornyak takes readers on a fascinating and beautifully-illustrated tour through the robot kingdom, interacting with the latest technological pets and playmates, interviewing the engineers and designers currently creating the inhabitants of tomorrow, and even visiting the Osaka RoboCup, where every year teams of robots from across the world face off in games of soccer. Along the way, Hornyak reveals several different factors that have played a part in Japan’s enthusiasm for robots.
LOVING THE MACHINE opens in the 1600s, when craftsmen formed automated dolls that served tea; Japanese robots took another leap forward in the 1950s when Mighty Atom (known to U.S. audiences as Astro Boy) launched a series of adventures that influenced generations of children and spawned numerous other mechanical heroes, including Mazinger Z, Mobile Suit Gundam, and the battling mega-mechs of contemporary anime and manga. Science fiction isn’t the only place that plays home to robots: Hornyak visits industrial trade fairs and assembly lines, where robots have played a major role in transforming Japan into an exporting powerhouse.
LOVING THE MACHINE also looks to the future, when robots will increasingly interact with people on a daily basis, even in their own homes. More charismatic with each generation, robots are not only becoming useful to a greater degree, they are also becoming progressively adept in serving human needs for companionship and productive interaction.