Fachgruppensitzung Technik 2020

Organizers: Susanne Brucksch (DIJ Tokyo), Cosima Wagner (Freie Universität Berlin)

Part 1: Human-robot relation in Germany and Japan

Empowerment technology – implementing norms and values of social stakeholders into models of human-machine interaction (Patrick Grüneberg, Kanazawa University)

The implementation of the norms and values of social stakeholders into models of human-machine interaction puts high requirements on the  cognitive design process. The social and cultural dimensions of the users as well as the technical constraints for building cognitive models  have to be considered simultaneously. The current project on empowerment technology proposes a value-driven framework to advance the interlocking of human value and computational modeling. The presentation briefly sketched the project and introduced a capability-based model of the interactive unity of human and machine. This was followed by an explaination of some of the findings of case studies conducted in a Japanese hospital and kindergarten. These findings exemplify how human-machine interaction design could address the values held by local stakeholders and assure the support of human empowerment in terms of these values.

Scenarios of distributed agency in human-robot collaborations in industry and care (Kevin Wiggert, TU Berlin; Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer, TU Berlin; Martin Meister, TU Berlin; Tim Clausnitzer, TU Berlin)

Whether we look at Europe, the USA or Japan, in many areas in the world new possibilities of employing robotic systems in work settings essentially rely on direct collaborative interaction between human workers and collaborative robots leading to new distributions of agency between them. This project studys the social construction of these collaborative work settings and how agency is distributed, accordingly. Referring to the basic idea of actor-network theory that technology in use should be analyzed in a symmetrical manner, treating all the human and nonhuman entities involved as actors, the concept of distributed agency goes beyond actor-network theory in that it introduces the notion of gradualized action, which allows distinguishing between different levels of distributed agency. Therefore, it can precisely describe, in which way and to what extent activities and actor positions are delegated to robot co-workers or remain with its human counterpart. For analyzing how the distribution of agency between human and robot co-workers is socially constructed in different stages, first in laboratory settings and then in increasingly realistic real-world settings, the spectrum of manifestations of human-robot collaboration is interpreted as prototypically realized scenarios at different stages of elaboration. In doing so the project focuses on the areas of industrial production and care work as they represent contrastive cases: In industrial production collaborative robots are the next step in a long-standing history of robotic automation whereas in care work the new robots are also the first robots to be employed there. Furthermore, the project follows an international scope, including cases from Europe, the USA and Japan in the study.

Part 2: Health, care and technology

Trend report: Digital health developments in Japan during the pandemic  (Susanne Brucksch, DIJ Tokyo)

The digital transformation exerts wide influence on various parts of society, including medicine and healthcare. In Japan, telemedicine projects and telehealth networks have been introduced to bridge geographical distances in non-metropolitan regions, to link local healthcare institutions and to realise a regional comprehensive healthcare system on the ground. Surprisingly, the provision of online diagnosing of new patients became available only after legal reforms had been enacted in early 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over time, online diagnosing and prescription might become a permanent option. However, such developments bring about not only technical, but also various social and organisational challenges, necessitating further research from the social sciences on the wider implications for Japan’s health system. This brief trend report illuminated recent developments in Japan regarding digital health developments and reflected about upcoming research questions.

Japanese policies to establish two types of electronic healthcare record networks: Healthcare policy makers and administrators’ expectation for biopolitical control over the population health (Kaori Sasaki, Otaru University of Commerce)

This presentation discussed the Japanese healthcare policy makers and administrators’ expectations for biopolitical control over the population vis-a-vis their plan to establish two types of electronic healthcare record networks. Since the 2010s, they have intended to construct a couple of sorts of e-networks in relation to the population healthcare records. The first is to form a regional e-network amongst all healthcare providers including hospitals, clinics, nursery homes and pharmacies. It can integrate entire healthcare records of each patient’s into one system, especially if each regional administrator wishes. With utilising this e-network, the Japanese healthcare policy makers and administrators anticipate monitoring each population’s health totally. The other is to found a number of official service providers, which are supposed to store almost all quasi-anonymised healthcare records across Japan, whereby a set of medical data can be delivered to researchers for (big-data) analysis. As it covers a huge number of patient records, healthcare policy makers and administrators have envisaged to introduce total and efficient public health management to the population. Bearing these situations in mind, this talk considered how their plan for bio-political control over the population has been articulated and to what extent, in what ways, and on what grounds their intentions have been realised and/or prevented so far.

Developing a socially assistive robot based on user-centred design: Ingredients, opportunities and challenges (Naonori Kodate, University College Dublin)

It has been reported that monitoring of older people’s safety can improve the quality of their life in nursing homes and reduce the burden on care professionals at nighttime. In a nursing home in Tokyo, robotics-aided care has been introduced and recently, a bedside soft-type robot was produced based on the concept of user-centred design. Although evaluations of socially assistive robots and safety monitoring system suggest a positive impact, the mechanism through which the technology-driven system improves care and residents’ quality of life remains unclear. The author and a team of researchers based in the nursing home have been seeking to uncover this mechanism, using a systems approach. The presentation highlighted the process of its development and explore the characteristics of a context in which technologies can be effectively introduced and successfully implemented in nursing homes.