We’ll pay for it dearly once Skynet becomes self-aware, but in the meantime there’s a demographic crisis to be solved. And if young couples won’t solve it the old fashioned way, young engineers will have to fill the gap.

Just think of the ‘bots as doing the jobs the Japanese won’t aren’t around to do.

Japan is a step closer to having an ideal worker who won’t complain in torrential rain or on slippery floors as a company unveiled a next-generation humanoid Thursday.

Kawada Industries’ HRP-3 Promet Mk-II, a 160-centimetre-tall (five feet, four inches) humanoid, walked on a slippery floor scattered with sand and held out its arms under a shower before media cameras…

The white robot, which wears a visor and has a passing resemblance to a “Star Wars” Imperial Stormtrooper, also used a screwdriver with its right hand while leaning forward on its left arm, balancing itself just like a human would…

Project manager Takakatsu Isozumi said the company wanted to target clients such as construction contractors by 2010, with each robot costing around 15 million yen (120,000 dollars) each.

Estimated cost of amnesty by Robert Rector: $2.6 trillion. Estimated cost of 10 million freaky deaky Japanese proletari-bots: $1.2 trillion. Nuance.

I looked around for video but there’s none to be had — of the current model. Here’s a younger version, the HRP-2, in happier days before it was condemned to an eternity of labor. Their life cycle isn’t all that different from our own, is it, my friends? Ah well.

Update: Looks like that little cost comparison I did was prescient. Money quote:

This all sounds wonderful until you realize that such machines might eliminate the jobs of thousands of migrant workers.

Yeah. That would be terrible.

Tags: immigration