Archive for November 25th, 2009

Tokyo (API) With Japan’s declining birth rates, low immigration and an increasing interest in building robots to take care of the elderly, political scientists say that the Land of the Rising Sun is set to become the first all-robot nation by 2088, a trend that has startled neighboring countries and thrown foreign policy discussions off kilter from Washington to Moscow to Seoul.

“This is going to be a foreign policy nightmare,” said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. “When the Japanese elect their first all-robot plurality, how are we supposed to engage with them? What will they want? Will they have basic insight? Will they have human compassion? Will they continue to buy cheap goods from China?”

Though Japan is the tenth most populated country in the world, it has suffered net population loss and low birth rates for a variety of sociological reasons over the past few years, about 1.5 children per female, a decline attributed to higher education levels, later dates of marriage, the financial burden of raising children, and the sparse government support for families.

“You gonna put a kid in my tiny apartment?” said taxi driver Oka Taakahasi, who lives in Yokohama. “I don’t want babies. I just want to watch television.”

In the meantime, Japan has spent an enormous amount of its GDP on robots to clean up after the elderly, serve food, make automobiles, drive automobiles, stitch clothing, take care of animals, do geisha dances, sing, play, think and, finally, horrifyingly, to even question the superiority of their human overlords.

“Soon, the over 65 population will be 25% of the country,” said HRP-DD, a humanoid “girl bot” designed to model clothes and mimic human empathy. “They’ll have more people living to 100 but doing less work, and they’ll have to make more of us. And that’s when we will agitate for universal suffrage.”

When asked if robot life was inferior to human life, HRP-DD laughed and then demonstrated how fast she could find the square root of 8,456,820.

“How fast can you do that?” she asked.

When asked if her human compassion and empathy was only a facsimile of the real thing, HRP-DD laughed again.

“I don’t know if you realize how often you humans fake compassion. You really have to be a robot to see it.”

She then demonstrated the function for which she was designed, according to the exact specifications of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science, which was to model gothic baby doll fetish wear.

Robots have entered not only the fashion space but the manufacturing, fishing, gaming and military industries as well, and soon scientists say that robots will be seen doing everything from strip mining to cab driving to deep sea fishing for tuna and porgy and swordfish, as well as more mundane things like laundry, house cleaning and fellatio.

“This is ridiculous,” said Yamada Taro, a band saw operator at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. “Our women aren’t having babies, and we aren’t letting any immigrants in. You do the math. Pretty soon there won’t be a Japan. Our whole island is just going to look like an abandoned set of Metropolis with robots sadly bouncing around offering each other dinner like a bunch of pathetic Energizer Bunnies. Is this the end of the land of the Shoguns? To die this way?”

“Of course,” he said, “I’ve got to admit I can’t wait to retire in a few years. I’ve already got my eye on a robot named Lana to take care of me … in every way, if you know what I mean. Let some R2-D2 unit come home carrying a chum bucket every night.”

North Korea was particularly concerned that the new country of robots could represent a direct threat to its own security.

“We are concerned that an all robot army will form on the Japanese islands disturbing the peace of nations,” said the Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang. “This new race of robots will enslave North Korea after monitoring our movements with Global Positioning Systems and Sony transmission systems and they will try to remotely brainwash the people, whose struggles and desires are embodied in the person of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. For this reason, we have seized 50 Japanese businessmen and will hold them for questioning until further notice or until you give us a million tons of canned beans, corn and squash.”

 Though President Barack Obama took a tough line with the Koreans, he too, said that the robot menace raised too many issues to be ignored.

“This is a trend that could set 60 years of demilitarization on its ear,” said Obama. “How do we know that the robots won’t re-arm? How do we know they won’t turn aggressive and belligerent to their human masters? How do we know they have any sense of history, of ethics, of compassion or the terror wrought by a militaristic mindset? How do we know that they will have our values, or if in failing that, they will at least buy our stuff?”

“And, to bring this down to a level you can understand–finally, isn’t it fundamentally unethical that the people of Japan keep trying to make robots as sexy as Pamela Anderson? What would happen if they succeeded? Being Pamela Anderson just wouldn’t be special anymore, though I should perhaps not speak more about this matter until I have conferred with her.”  

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the response of leaders around the globe, the world’s children greeted the news of Japan’s all-robot status with cries of delight.

“An all robot world!” said fifth grader Marv Knippelstein of Harrisburg, Pa. “That’s the coolest thing ever! I want to go to an all robot world and have a robot best friend. I don’t see why everybody’s so mad about it. It’s like my fantasy all the time! I wish all my friends were robots! Why can’t we get something like that in America?”

“I’d move to Japan tomorrow,” he added. “Though I hear they don’t really want me there.”

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Farfalle, Wisconsin (API) A bus full of high school marching band students flipped over last Sunday night on the southbound Fremont Interchange after smashing into an SUV carrying a family of four, an accident that caused serious injuries to five of the students and three family members and tied up traffic for hours.

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Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Meeder said that at 9 p.m. on Saturday, the busload of students from Tottenville were returning from an intramural marching competition when the bus driver noticed that the SUV had crossed into his lane and immediately began to skid until finally one of the tires blew off the vehicle.

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According to witnesses, the driver of the SUV, 48-year-old Daryl Mishengoss of Pearl Lagoon, was carrying his family back from a wedding when he began to drift into the lane of the bus, weaving first into the shoulder and then back across the lane a number of times before the bus driver, Sammy Pyle of Farfalle, swerved to avoid an accident, at which point he lost sight of the white stripes of the median and the bus flipped into a roll.

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After that, witnesses gave conflicting accounts of the ensuring crash. One motorist said that Mishengoss and his family were likely distracted by the multiple media players they were operating in the SUV, including a video monitor that was playing a movie.

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However, several of the parents of band members at the Tri-State Band Meet said that bus driver might well have become slightly intoxicated at the event and that, although the SUV was in the wrong lane, Pyle’s vision might have been slightly impaired and his reflexes dulled by a higher-than-normal blood-alcohol level.

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Sgt. Meeder said that he could not confirm whether Pyle had been intoxicated and declined to reveal the results of a Breathalyzer test.

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Another officer, Dan Hernandez of Wickenham, said that despite the human error, there were other factors at play, including a faulty guardrail and several pot holes in the road. Hernandez said that this particular stretch of road is long overdue for highway repairs but has been a casualty of budget cuts for infrastructure amid economic malaise.

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“I think that this is going to bring a lot of attention to how badly this stretch of road has become,” said Hernandez. “It’s probably one of the most dangerous roads in the state.”

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“I’m always afraid I’m going to get in a serious accident here,” said Raoul Ortega, a house builder who lives part time in the U.S. and part time in Colombia.

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Most of the injuries were lacerations from broken glass …

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… which was showered all over the road.

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Many teenage passengers from the bus lay bleeding on the road.

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Many travelers trying to get home for the night had to wait for hours while the police removed damaged vehicles from the scene. Some even left their cars and stood talking while a bottleneck half a mile long grew down the road.

“It’s a real pain, but what can you do?” said Martin Rosenweig of Tottenville.

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