Sample Essay

┬áSo Japan will need workers, and it is learning how to make robots that can do many of their jobs. But the country’s keen interest in robots may also reflect something else: it seems that plenty of Japanese really like dealing with robots.Few Japanese have the fear of robots that seems to haunt westerners in seminars andHollywoodfilms. In western popular culture, robots are often a threat, either because they are manipulated by sinister forces or because something goes horribly wrong with them. By contrast, most Japanese view robots as friendly and benign. Robots like people, and can do good.

The Japanese are well aware of this cultural divide, and commentators devote lots of attention to explaining it. The two most favoured theories, which are assumed to reinforce each other, involve religion and popular culture.

Most Japanese take an eclectic approach to religious beliefs, and the native religion, Shintoism, is infused with animism: it does not make clear distinctions between inanimate things and organic beings. A popular Japanese theory about robots, therefore, is that there is no need to explain why Japanese are fond of them: what needs explaining, rather, is why westerners allow their Christian hang-ups to get in the way of a good technology. When Honda started making real progress with its humanoid-robot project, it consulted theVaticanon whether westerners would object to a robot made in man’s image.

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