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Robots: A Solution to Declining & Aging Populations?

Joseph Chamie - Inter Press Service
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September 11, 2017
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The Home Robot of the Future Is Here to Communicate with Your Family (OhmniLabs)

Are humanoid robots or androids a solution to declining and aging populations? Given the prospects of demographic decline and population aging coupled with growing opposition to immigration, countries are increasingly turning to and investing in advanced robotics and androids to address shrinking workforces and rising numbers of elderly.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for example, has called for a more rapid development of advanced robotics. He believes that robotics “could help the country overcome the handicap of a fast-aging populace and a declining workforce and to help the country to use robotics from large-scale factories to every corner of our economy and society”.

More than 80 countries, representing 46 percent of world population, are experiencing fertility below the replacement level of about two births per woman. In many of those countries, including Canada, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom, fertility levels have remained below replacement for several decades.



... Facing declining and aging populations coupled with resistance to immigration, countries are increasingly turning to and investing in advanced robotic technology to meet their labor needs and also increase productivity, reduce labor costs and improve goods and services. Recent examples of robotic technology include: a self-driving pizza delivery car; a robotic bricklayer that can lay 1,000 standard bricks in one hour, which typically takes two men about a day; and a robotic barista that can serve 120 coffees in an hour.

Advances in robot technology and artificial intelligence are contributing to the humanization of robots and the emergence of androids that look, move and act like a human being, even having a human-like body with a flesh-like appearance. In addition to being a solution to shrinking workforces, some believe that androids will be able to provide valuable services, including being personal companions for the growing numbers of elderly living alone, providing a platform for basic healthcare services and doing the dirty, dangerous and difficult work that many eschew.

Although still under development, first stage androids are becoming more apparent in warehouses, retail stores, reception/information centers, hospitals, military installations, industrial parks and television. Several years ago scientists in Japan developed the world’s first news-reading android that not only had perfect language skills, but also possessed a sense of humor. Another recent example is an android developed at a research institute in Singapore that works as a university receptionist.

In the past the possibility of androids existing within human societies was limited mainly to science-fiction writers, moviemakers and futurists. More recently, scientists, innovators and industrial leaders are addressing the emergence of the transformative era of humanoid robots with artificial intelligence.

Read the rest at Inter Press Service

Related: Robots Won’t Steal Our Jobs if We Put Workers at Center of AI Revolution (The Conversation)

Related: Grabit’s Robots Produce Nike Shoes 20 Times Faster Than Humans Do (The Merkle)

IPS is an international communication institution with a global news agency at its core, raising the voices of the South and civil society on issues of development, globalisation, human rights and the environment. Check out the website at IPSNews.net


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