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Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots [Hardcover]

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Item description for Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots by Timothy N. Hornyak...

Japan stands out for its long love affair with humanoid robots, a phenomenon that is creating what will likely be the world's first mass robot culture. While U.S. companies have produced robot vacuum cleaners and war machines, Japan has created warm and fuzzy life-like robot therapy pets. While the U.S. makes movies like "Robocop" and "The Terminator," Japan is responsible for the friendly Mighty Atom, Aibo and Asimo. While the U.S. sponsors robot-on-robot destruction contests, Japan's feature tasks that mimic nonviolent human activities. The Steven Spielberg film, "AI," was a disaster at the world box office-except in Japan, where it was a huge hit. Why is this? What can account for Japan's unique relationship with robots as potential colleagues in life, rather than as potential adversaries? Loving the Machine attempts to answer this fundamental query by looking at Japan's historical connections with robots, its present fascination and leading technologies, and what the future holds. Through in-depth interviews with scientists, researchers, historians, artists, writers and others involved with or influenced by robots today, author Timothy N. Hornyak looks at robots in Japan from the perspectives of culture, psychology and history, as well as technology; and brings understanding to an endlessly evolving subject. From the Edo-period humanoid automatons, through popular animation icons and into the high tech labs of today's researchers into robotic action and intelligence, the author traces a fascinating trail of passion and development.

Book Description From the amazing automatons of feudal Japan to giant animated robots and the cutting-edge androids of today, Loving the Machine is a fascinating journey of passion and discovery.

Loving the Machine Video Clip
Watch a video clip featuring author Timothy Hornyak--and robots

How Much Do You Really Know About Robots?
(After reading Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots, you'll know a lot!)

Q: Where did the term "robot" first appear, and who coined it?
A: Karel Capek, pronounced [KARL CHAP-ek], in his 1921 play R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots).

Q: One of Japan's first "robots" was a clockwork servant who would bring guests a cup of tea, then return to the server with the empty cup. In what century did these "tea-serving dolls" as they were known, appear?
A: The Eighteenth century, Japan's Edo period.

Q: The animated hero Astro Boy may have 100,000 horsepower strength, but does he have a human soul?
A: Yes---and more importantly, he can fire bullets out of his backside!

Q: Wakamaru is a robot created by Mitsubishi that can recite news and weather forecasts that it receives from the Internet, look into people's eyes when being spoken to, and charge itself when its power is running low. For what purpose was Wakamaru built?
A: For domestic help.

Q: The RoboCup, in which robot teams of soccer players from around the world compete, has as its ultimate goal the creation of a team of robots who will be able to take on the reigning World Cup champions. By what year do the RoboCup's founders hope to have a team of robot Beckhams ready to face humanity's top players?
A: 2050.

Q: What team's humanoid robots won the RoboCup in the summer of 2006---and in several years before that?
A: Team Osaka (which is managed by Systec Akazawa Co. and includes robotics experts from Osaka University).

Q: Which team won in the Small Robot League this past summer?
A: Carnegie-Mellon University's CMDragons.

Q: Sony's Aibo robot, first available to consumers in 1999, was not a humanoid robot. What did it resemble?
A: A puppy.

Q: One of the most advanced robots in the world is ASIMO, a humanoid who can recognize faces, serve drinks, and run at 4 miles per hour. ASIMO rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange in 2002, and was parodied on a South Park episode in which Eric Cartman tried to pass himself off as a robot called "AWESOM-O." What Japanese corporation created ASIMO? A: Honda.

Q: In 2006, android maker Hiroshi Ishiguro unveiled an android clone of what person?
A: Himself---he figured it would help cut his workload in half!

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Item Specifications...

Pages   159
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 7.5" Height: 9.75"
Weight:   1.55 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 28, 2006
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770030126  
ISBN13  9784770030122  

Availability  0 units.

More About Timothy N. Hornyak

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! TIMOTHY N. HORNYAK moved to Japan in 1999 after working as a freelance science and technology journalist in Montreal. He worked at the international desk of Kyodo News in Tokyo, and has written about Japanese culture, technology and history for Scientific American, the Far Eastern Economic Review
and other publications.

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Product Categories

1Books > Bargain Books > Children > Science, Nature & How It Works
2Books > Bargain Books > Nonfiction > Social Science
3Books > Bargain Books > Science & Nature
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Engineering > Computer Technology > Robotics & Automation
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Engineering > Mechanical > Robotics
7Books > Subjects > Science > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots?

Fasinating  Sep 14, 2007
I though that some parts overdone with comic characters and Japanese attitudes but overall fascinating. I loved examining the photos of some of the earlier robots over 200 years old. Some look incredibly intricate as well as beautiful.

I also felt inspired to get one of these modern robots too.
fascinating, absorbing, informative  Jan 4, 2007
What else can I say that my title doesn't convey?

My only carp--perhaps--is that the author fails satisfactorily to address the issue of why robots, so very hyped (albeit less so than, say, thirty years ago), have failed to establish significant inroads in domestic settings. Visit a Japanese automobile factory and you'll see robots everywhere--mounting parts, soldering, painting (even painting one another--accidentally, one hopes!). But in the home--as comedically immortalized in Woody Allen's 1974 hootfest, "Sleeper"--you don't see robots other than as curiosities, such as non-pooping "dogs."

Hornyak could have made the book more entertaining by including the anecdote about Herbie--had he known it. Herbie was a non-anthropomorphic robot that delivered inter-office mail in an AT&T facility in Silver Spring, Maryland. His route was not preprogrammed, but was "taught" to him by spray-painting a gradually fading metallic stripe onto the carpet: Herbie would follow the stripe, stopping whenever someone stood in his path. (Herbie was very polite: not only did he move slowly, but he did not step on feet.) One conniver thought it would be funny to spray-paint the stripe right over to the fifth-floor picture window, whereby Herbie committed hara-kiri in a spectacular blaze. (The jokester was less upset at being fired than at the eighty-thousand-dollar legal judgment.)
Robots friendly, robots nice  Nov 10, 2006
Do you want to know what's going on in the world of human-like robots? This book will bring you up to the present and it's happening in Japan. It's good light reading with the right balance of photos of robots. Not any kind of depth - just a light entertaining read. Kid's will like it as well as any adult who's interested in cartoon robots and real cutting edge human-like robots.

The book really shows how easily human-like robots are slipping in the psychie of Japan (and eventually the rest of us). Are we really ready for the coming robot world? Doesn't matter. We're all being softened up by these friendly and so nice robots. Nice, nice robots. Step by step with the help of their human inventors and advertisers, they've started their march into human society. I'd suggest watching the movie "I Robot" after you've read the book, or give both as a gift.

I really want a robot!  Sep 4, 2006
All of my life, I have been promised that the age of the robot is just around the corner. It seems like one of those things that is always in the immediate future, and always just out of reach, an eternal carrot that we keep moving towards, always one step ahead. Fifty years ago, they figured we would all be living with robots in our homes by now, doing domestic chores, entertaining us, educating us. Our plastic pal whose fun to be with!

"Loving the Machine" again makes this promise, and again I am inclined to believe it. Author Timothy Hornyak plays show and tell, taking you on a guided tour through robotics from the primitive first attempts to the modern marvels of Asimo and the semi-android Replee Q1expo. They really are stunning, and one can almost feel the fire of creativity and inspiration driving modern robotics research. The scientists are building robots out of passion, out of a real sense of discovery rather than commerce, and that is what always drives technology forward. All of the different fields are coming together, mixing software with hardware, sharing breakthroughs and triumphs that far outnumber failures and disappointments.

Ostensibly, "Loving the Machine" is also about Japan's relationship with the robot, and it is. Japan's culture of robots stretches back into its distant past, with the Karakuri automatons that are still wonders of ancient technology, unable to be replicated today. Whereas Western cultures have Superman, Japan has Mighty Atom, the robot superboy. Whereas the US has GI Joe, Japan has the super robots Gundam and Mazinger Z. Japan has nurtured a deep-seated love for the robot, and the whole country holds its collective breath waiting for the first truly intelligent robot to announce its own birthday. However, in attempting to contrast cultures, this is where the book loses its footing. The author makes much of The Terminator and the Replicants from "Blade Runner", stressing the West's fear of technology out of control, but never mentions R2-D2 and C-3PO from "Star Wars", Rosie the Robot Maid from "The Jetsons" Johnny 5 from the films "Short Circuit," Bender from "Futurama," or Isaac Asimov's heartbreaking hero from "The Bicentennial Man" There is not even a mention of how the fearsome Terminator returns for a second movie, this time as the hero saving a young boy. While not on the same level, the West has also long had a love affair with cute, friendly robots who are friends and companions rather than just functional machines.

I've been let down before, but "Loving the Machine" has given me a boost, returning me to the childhood where, when asked to draw a picture of what I thought life would be like in the year 2000, I drew a happy home complete with robot butler and flying car. The flying car may be out of the question, but there is at least still some hope that I might live to see the first truly intelligent robot announce its own birthday. Frankly, I can't wait.
A fascinating and informative tribute to Japanese popular culture and its love affair with humanoid robots  Sep 2, 2006
Loving The Machine: The Art And Science Of Japanese Robots is a fascinating and informative tribute to Japanese popular culture and its love affair with humanoid robots ranging from anime's Astro Boy to automatons imagined in speculative fiction to have existed in the Edo period of Japanese history. In stark contrast to American movies portraying robots as ruthless, Terminator-style killing machines, Japanese cinema and television has a tradition of gentler robots that mimic human activities. Full-color photographs on every page illustrate this unique analysis of what Japanese culture celebrates robots, Japan's historical connections to robots, and what modern technology indicates the future holds. Loving The Machine is very highly recommended reading -- especially for modern Japanese culture buffs.

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