According to the United Nations statistics Japan and Germany are the fastest aging societies in the world. The implications of the demographic change have led to an intensive debate about solutions, especially for helping an aging workforce to remain productive and to support the elderly in general. While the Japanese government has taken numerous measures since the year 2002 to build a robot-assisted society in the future, the German discourse on technical solutions for the aging society, especially on robots as partners of human beings, is very critical and there is a significant skepticism about the usefulness of robotics solutions beyond manufacturing automation. On the other hand, robot assisted therapy (e.g., with the Japanese robot seal PARO) is getting more and more attraction and is already part of therapeutical measures in some care facilities not only in Japan, but also Germany.
This symposium brings together leading robotics researchers and scholars of the humanities to discuss the introduction and use of technological support for the aging societies of Japan and Germany considering both technical and non-technical (legal, ethical and societal) aspects. Fundamental questions to be discussed by the symposium participants are:
• What are the cultural foundations for the differences in acceptance and the use of robots in the Japanese and German societies?
• Which ethical and legal questions does a future coexistence of humans and robots raise?
• Can robots provide solutions for the problems of the aging industrial societies of the future?
• What examples of successful early applications of robot technology in everyday life can be found?
• What are the implications of an intense human-machine interaction that we will need in the future for all stakeholder in robotics (users, vendors, makers, developers, researchers)?
• How to design robot systems for rehabilitation and mental treatment?
With a discussion of these questions the conference aims to initiate an interdisciplinary, intercultural dialogue on technology development and culture in general and robots and their application in particular in order to contribute to the debate about strategies for the future societies of Japan and Germany.
The symposium will be held in German and Japanese with simultaneous translation. For details please refer to the German or Japanese pages.