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Research Students - Material Culture  

Year of start: 2010
Subject: Material Culture

Research Topic

Growing Old with Robots: Novel Technology and Public Engagement in Tokyo


Dr Victor Buchli,
Prof Susanne Kuechler


Japan ranks first in the world for life expectancy, this longevity coupled with a low birth rate has led to an aging population that is increasingly a cause for concern. There is a sense of urgency in finding new ways of assisting the elderly who live alone or in institutions. Robotics is currently being considered as one viable solution. Care for the disabled and elderly is regularly cited by Japanese robotics manufacturers as one of the primary potential applications for these devices. This raises a whole set of practical and ethical considerations that are only just beginning to be explored. Public engagement with such novel technologies is the primary focus of this study. The research is an ethnographic exploration of how these technologies are perceived by their promoters as well as their potential users. By triangulating between online material, laboratory practices and sites of interaction with the public, this research will attempt to address fundamental questions regarding the ongoing relationship between humans and machines.

Research interests

  • Technology
  • Public Engagement
  • Anthropomorphic Design


UCL Graduate School

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