Gabriele Trovato is worried about tomorrow. Or at least that‚Äôs what he confesses to SanTO, one of his religion-inspired robots. Just shy of 17 inches tall, SanTO resembles those small figurines of saints often found in Catholic homes‚ÄĒexcept with a computer, microphone, sensors and a facial recognition-enabled camera. As Mr. Trovato touches and speaks to the machine, its deep, echoing voice responds with a Bible quote: ‚ÄúFrom the Gospel according to Matthew,‚ÄĚ it says, ‚Äúdo not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.‚ÄĚ
Mr. Trovato, a roboticist and assistant professor at Japan‚Äôs Waseda University, designed SanTO to provide comfort and assistance to the elderly. Interactive, social robots like ElliQ, a robot companion for seniors, or Sony‚Äôs Aibo robot dog are increasingly seen as a means to alleviate loneliness, entertain and provide...
Interesting gimmick. While it's not too many steps from the search engines I turn to rather than a concordiance to track down a particular verse, there just seems to be something wrong with this concept. I was particularly struck by the BlessU-2 robot that was made from an old ATM machine. Perhaps that speaks volumes about who and what their god is rather than whatever preprogrammed prayers or content it might suggest/offer. The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. But while there is no one righteous, no not one...this robot is not a substitute for authentic Christianity. The kind that visits the eldery to provide comfort.
If the story is about robots, then we must be talking about Japan, right? That is the one developed country in the world that is 'depopulating' more people dying than being born, and immigration is very strictly controlled. Not that people around that region want to live in Japan because they have a memory of the suffering Japan brought down on them during WW2. Isn't it ironic how every year there is a Big Protest about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, when General Curtis LeMaye's air force dropped napalm bombs over Tokyo that nearly burnt it to the ground, killing much more than the atomic bombs did. And, isn't it ironic--every year PBS rolls out programs to Remember the Holocaust, while no one remembers the atrocities of the Japanese on US and British prisoners?