At the party I talk to two very nice Chinese researchers who tell me, in an extremely polite way, that China is about to open up a big can of robot whoop-ass on us unsuspecting Yankees. They're fronting something in the order of 30 teams to RoboCup this year and are hosting the event next year. To which I reply: Chinese robots? I mean, aren't there enough Chinese?
It turns out this beer-fueled response was only half stupid.One of the major factors pushing robot development has been Japan's declining population. Over the next 50 years, Japan's population is expected to decline as much as 30%. By 2015, one quarter of the Japanese population will be over the age of 65. There just aren't going to be enough young people to care for the elderly. The Japanese government is investing $35 million a year in robotic technology not so they can build swarming battle-bots (that would be the Americans who receive most of their funding through text that you DARPA...but more on that later) but so Granny can have a hot meal and get down the stairs.
The area in which the Japanese particularly excel is in humanoid robots. Why? Because it doesn't matter if Granny gets her tea if you've already scared her to death. She needs a robot she can relate to.
By the way, China is facing a population curve similar to, though not as extreme as, Japan's a few decades down the road. That's a whole lot of Granny-bots.
Ok. It's time to go watch some robot soccer.
Oh right. That picture up top is of a very lovely fountain in front of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. I dig it.
One more thing. What's going on with homeless in Atlanta? I had one guy try to lure me down a back alley on the pretence of giving me directions and another guy tell me the saddest, and most believable, tale of woe this Brooklynite has ever heard.
Ok. Now it's time to watch some robot soccer!