The Future of (Good) Life: Experiments from Japan

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At the 2017 Niconico Chōkaigi, the annual festival held by the Japanese video platform Ni-conico, a team of roboticists led by Hiroshi Ishiguro prototyped the “Ishiguro Laboratory’s Experimental Love Shrine.” The Love Shrine tested how communication constrained by tech-nological mediation might enable intimate connections. As such, the shrine invited pairs of strangers to meet in separate rooms with no visual access and talk only about one of two top-ics offered by a touch panel. After the first encounter, more than 80% chose to extend the meeting by walking out of the ‘Love Exit’ to great fanfare. Fast-forward to 2025, when the Osaka World Expo will host a signature pavilion designed by Ishiguro with the theme of “Fu-ture of Life: To live lives worth living.” In his vision, the future of lives worth living emerges by fusing humanity and technology through so-called ‘cybernetic avatars’, which will free us “from the limitations of the flesh or environment […] and will start an exploration of new possibilities” (Ishiguro n.d.). In this talk, I use these events to anchor reflections on how ro-boticists experiment with the future of (good) life in Japan. Specifically, I suggest that these experimental performances restage and reconfigure the perceived loss of traditional relational-ity in contemporary Japanese society, sometimes described as muen shakai or the ‘society of no relations’ (Nozawa 2015). Lastly, I discuss how the experimental modelling of sociality performs alternative modes of relationality, a dynamic which I call artificial sociality (Vejlin 2022).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date21 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2023
EventMEGA Seminar 2023: Quests for a Good Life - Sandbjerg Gods, Sønderborg, Denmark
Duration: 21 Aug 202323 Aug 2023


ConferenceMEGA Seminar 2023
LocationSandbjerg Gods


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