The Corner

Re: Robots

I know we all appreciate Jonah’s forbearance in avoiding “fully functional” robot jokes (see how easy it is to slip St*r Tr*k allusions past Kathryn?), but Japan’s dominance in the field ought to be a lesson for us. When I was a kid, I read Asimov’s “I, Robot” stories (didn’t see the movie and didn’t want to) and just assumed, like most of us, that the robots of the future would be mechanical Americans — we were number one in the world, which after all is why Asimov’s fictional company was called U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. Well, it’s increasingly likely that the humanoid robots of the future will instead be mechanical Japanese, as we’re already seeing, in part because of our respective immigration policies (you knew that was coming). Now, this isn’t the end of the world, and I don’t mean to raise an alarm about the impending “robot gap,” only that being on top doesn’t mean we’ll stay on top.

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