User-Friendly: Anthropomorphic Devices and Mechanical Behaviour in Japan


Anthropomorphic avatars and disembodied voices have become part of everyday life in Japan. From the animated characters that bow after you complete a transaction at an automated teller machine to the phenomenal proliferation of consumer goods bearing cute faces. There is a discernable growing tendency to anthropomorphize machines. These anthropomorphic devices stand in contrast with the somewhat automated nature of many human interactions. Particularly in the behavior required of employees that work in customer service roles, which calls to mind the demand that workers must often behave as machines from which the notion of a robot originates. Based on research conducted at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, examples not only of how friendliness can be mechanically produced but also of new devices being imbued with functions to demonstrate their friendliness will be critically examined.

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Shea, M. (2014). User-Friendly: Anthropomorphic Devices and Mechanical Behaviour in Japan. Advances in Anthropology, 4, 41-49. doi: 10.4236/aa.2014.41006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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