Japanese Technology from the Future SATURDAY (yeah...)
This week it’s a revisitation of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics with a bit of a Japan flavor, and a Tokyo research team has discovered a serious catch-22 correlation between sleeping pills and heart disease, which really is a bummer, but good to know.
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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday Saturday!
It’s already Friday Saturday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat Technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News (usually) every Friday (not Saturday) morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.
:: JTFFS – May 17, 2014 ::
• Via Asimov, Passing Mention of Japan’s Attitudes Toward Robots
Isaac Asimov’s seminal Three Laws of Robotics (which we won’t quote here, but basically say “robots shall behave themselves with human-friendly, hardwired logic”) have been picked apart for nearly 75 years; they’ve been celebrated, denounced, declared ineffective, experienced a renaissance, derided again, on and on and on. The three simple laws are beautifully concise, and the fact that, despite being overly simple and most probably impossible to encode into a machine that isn't already self-aware, we keep coming back to them, we keep bringing them up in debate, which means that 1. We haven’t really truly advanced our practical understanding of machine morality in 75 years, and 2. A set of ideas with this kind of staying power obviously has considerable merit and could, and arguably, already does serve as a practical foundation for crafting future guidelines, and 3. Isaac Asimov was a rockstar badass sci-fi robotics genius (there’s also that whole set of ideas he had that basically describes [real, not lolcat] memetics 35 years before The Selfish Gene - Psychohistory represent, yo). Anyway, the article referenced here mentions Japan’s peculiar place in the world: both being very, very comfortable with robotics as a culture, and being very, very in need of them. How so and why? Well, after you speed through MIT’s piece, have a look at our ongoing coverage of Assistive Robotics, and you’ll begin to see just how important a codified machine morality will be, first for the Japanese, but eventually all advanced and aging civilizations.
[OKAY MAYBE WE DO NEED ASIMOV’S THREE LAWS - MIT TECH REVIEW]
• Japanese Researchers Link Sleeping Pills with Heart Disease Complications
Insomniacs with heart trouble, or the inverse thereof, might have more to worry about more than just insomnia and heart trouble - seems that pharmaceuticals used to deal with the former could considerably worsen the latter. Two years of research at Tokyo’s Yamate Medical Center have revealed that patients taking sleeping pills were 8 times as likely to be rehospitalized for complications related to their heart disease...which really sucks, because heart disease and related treatment regimens tend to have a lot of sleep-disturbing side effects. Why is that, and what do we do with this info? Well, those studies are probably well underway. The JTFF will keep you posted, and in the meantime, for more on J-med tech, click on these words.
[SLEEP AIDS KINDA EXACERBATE HEART DISEASE - SCIENCE WORLD REPORT]
That was the JTFFS, and live from the future – that is all.
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Tokyo at Night via PhotoEverywhere.