The Cultural Processes of Technological Innovation - The Evolution of Robo Sapiens Japanicus
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The purpose of this thesis is to illustrate the cultural processes of technological innovation, using the development of Japanese robot technology as a case. Yet to best explore the Japanese robot we must first face the way we define, use, and understand the term “technology” in anthropology to be able to use an approach able to uncover the cultural aspects in the Japanese` relationship to technology. The fieldwork where the collection of empirical data for this thesis took place was Tokyo, Japan. The perspectives on robot technology, and technology in general will be presented from three different points of view; from the roboticist`s point of view, from the general public`s point of view, and from the point of view of how robots and technology are represented in the popular culture of Japan. The aspects explored are the cultural traits and the Japanese ethos enabling technology becoming part of its culture with such ease, as well as exploring the technological environment of modern day Tokyo. This thesis addresses technological development and innovation as stochastic processes where new technologies has to adapt into a culture, not only by “fitting” in, but also by building upon preceding cultural traits enabling the “new” innovation to appear. The findings of this thesis show a unique Japanese technology and the cultural processes leading to the technological innovation that is the robot.