We’ve been discussing now for quite some time about how our senior citizens react to new technologies here in the west, and have come to some interesting ideas. But what about the rest of the world? Is the acceptance to technology in every culture the same, or is there difference between cultures? In the past few days I’ve tried to find some answers or notions concerning this topic. And found out that the stance elderly take towards new technologies is broadly speaking comparable to those we experience with our beloved old-of-aged. Let us take for instance Japan. Japan is a nation who loves robots. Where in the west robots means terminator and the loss of work, in japan robots are seen as a good thing. When a robot is set to work in japan, they are “sometimes welcomed on their first day with Shinto religious ceremonies.” And as Japan is struggling with an aging population whilst having too few people to care for them, instead of using cheap immigrant labour as do many other countries, japan turns to robots. Thus some major money was pumped into making humanoid robots who could take care of their elderly, resulting in some nice products like a forklift robot to cary a person around or a higly sophisticated robot arm that can “feed” an elderly who isn’t capable to such an action for him/herself.
But as in the west, the elderly weren’t that happy with those robots. As one patient said: “we want humans, no robots” Hospitals and care-centers started abandoning the robots as “the patients where put off by them”, and the humanoid robot sales dwindled. This has had for effect that japan is now focusing on simpler, more practical robots.
This example learns us that even in technophile Japan, elderly are hesitant towards technologies that change their life too substantially