The Japanese humanoid robot and the authenticity of artificial identity
This chapter considers the authenticity of nonhuman identity. It discusses the identity of the humanoid robot in the Japanese context, providing a culturally situated perspective on the social construction of identities and authenticity. The figure of the humanoid robot in Japan is an ambiguous avatar of cultural meaning, but in a rather different way than the “artificial” human figuring in Western narratives. I argue that the humanoid is not an inauthentic human at all but constitutes a separate ontological category. It is an entity recognized as having its own identity, one specifically based in artificiality. I indicate how the notions of kawaii (cute) and kyara (a powerful symbol) help define humanoids this way. This chapter will examine how this Japanese cultural perspective locates the identity of the humanoid robot outside the duality of humans-versus-robots that typifies the Western context.