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"Robot" devices for mobility from Toyota

© December 2004 Tony Lawrence

Referencing: Toyoto i-foot and i-unit

Gizmodo says "Thank you, Toyota. I was afraid there for a while Japan had stopped being suitably weird.", which in my opinion is an utterly stupid comment.

My father-in-law suffered a major stroke several years ago and has been wheel-chair bound ever since. He has since become partially aphasic also, which may have been from additional brain damage or may be depression; nobody seems quite certain about that. The "state of the art" in wheelchairs isn't much to brag about - we bought him a $1,200.00 unit last year and it's uncomfortable, unwieldy, and really serves as nothing more than a way for someone else to push him around. He has no mobility, and his fate is to simply lie or sit in whatever position someone else puts him. It's sad, and there are so many others in similar straits.

If we had "mobility suits" today, I'm not sure he could benefit, but I know he could have a year or so back, and if his present state is from depression, having some control over his own movement might have lessened that.

Certainly other victims of strokes, spinal injury, amputees, etc. could benefit from future versions of these devices. No, I'm not forgetting medical advances, and I certainly hope we can continue making progress there with or without the roadblocks of religious interference. There may well come a day when we can "fix" disabilities and restore these poor people to normal lives. But that day may be far away, and I applaud Toyota and other companies involved in this sort of work: mobility devices, assistant robots, all of it. These things can make a real difference for real people.

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"Gizmodo says 'Thank you, Toyota. I was afraid there for a while Japan had stopped being suitably weird.', which in my opinion is an utterly stupid comment."

There's nothing weird about developing a product that could potentially help millions of disabled people. We could be doing this sort of thing right here in the USA. We certainly have the talent and resources, not to mention plenty of do-gooders who would be willing to go to bat with funding sources.

Unfortunately, we're bogged down by a hyperlitigious culture and a bunch of religious ignoramuses who think praying can solve everything (one of these which has taken up residence in the White House). Any product that imparts mobility to a disable person is a prime target for a lawsuit, simply because if it moves, it can be misused and someone can get hurt. In our culture, the attitude is should one be injured or killed due to product misuse, call a lawyer and sue everyone and their uncles. It's your "right."

As for the nut cases (of which we have an overabundance) who think that God and religion are the answer, we need to get these bozos out of our government and replace them with people who are pragmatic and are partial to scientific methods. I don't see how the medical art can be expected to advance when we have pee-brained, Bible thumpers running things (you listening, George Bush?).

"My father-in-law suffered a major stroke several years ago...the 'state of the art' in wheelchairs isn't much to brag about..."

Even the latest motorized chairs are very primitive compared to what Toyota is proposing. A motorized wheelchair is little more than a self-propelled push cart.

"He has no mobility, and his fate is to simply lie or sit in whatever position someone else puts him."

That is the worst: to have a profound loss of mobility. I feel very badly for him. I could never imagine of a life of not being able to go where I want, when I want, because I had lost the ability to control my body movement.

"There may well come a day when we can 'fix' disabilities and restore these poor people to normal lives."

That day may well be coming. Recall Moore's law, which postulated that the density of solid state devices would double at 18 month intervals, and therefore computing power would likewise improve. In the last 10 years, we've seen a quantum leap in computing power, which has opened doors to many new developments. I believe we will soon know why motor functions cease working and will devise a way to get them back. We may not be able to prevent the sort of dibilitating condition that has affected your father-in-law, but we may be able to give him at least a little mobility.


---December 5, 2004

"As for the nut cases (of which we have an overabundance) who think that God and religion are the answer"

Gods and prayer are an answer - apparently just not one with any effectiveness.

I think it is fascinating that people think prayer is valuable for external problems. If praying for little Johnny saves his life, what does that say about the god prayed to - that he's too busy to notice Johnny's suffering unless someone brings it to his attention? What happened to "every sparrow's fall"?

Also, how come Moslems also insist that their prayer is effective, as do Indians, and every other religious belief right down to so called "primitive" polytheists? If prayer worked for all of them, wouldn't that say that the actual mechanism is something else entirely (if indeed there is any real effect at all)?

I particularly love the morons who survived some disaster and think that they have been "chosen". The poor folks who died must just not have been holy enough, I guess.

And for Christians, Jesus tells them flat out not to pray publically - but they want prayer in the schools, prayer for meeting, prayer everywhere. Like Ghandi supposedly said, "If it wasn't for the Christians, I might have become one"

Oh, well. If you wanted to hear me babble about religious nonsense, you'd go read https://aplawrence.com/Personal


I, being the product of strict Roman Catholic upbringing, have about as much use for religion as I do for swollen hemorrhoids. Religious nuts (an expression that is, to me, redundant) like to get into your face about how God did this and Jesus did that. Well, I like to return them the favor by reminding them of the old aphorism about religion and astrology both being havens for fools.

As for praying and all that, if one feels that prayer will solve problems for them, then by all means pray away. Who knows. Maybe some passer-by will hear the prayers, take pity on the clod who thinks that praying does any good, and solve the problem.

However, one's right to pray does not include the right to shove this superstitious nonsense in my face. That includes you, George W. Bush.


---December 6, 2004

Well, it depends. I generally don't mind someone expressing their religious beliefs - unless it's a public event. But there are exceptions.

My father wasn't particularly religious, and specifically expressed his wishes not to have religious services at his funeral. Consequently we had a simple secular "event", but also invited his friends and family to speak if they wished. One of them took that opportunity to express his opinion about my Dad being in "God's arms" etc. I was offended and pissed off - not for myself, but for my father. That jackass had no business doing that.

But if my father had been religious, it would have been OK - I still wouldn't have liked it, but I would have accepted it as appropriate and justified because of his beliefs. People have the right to believe any nonsense they please.


---December 7, 2004

Mmmm, the service is not so much for those who have passed but for those who have not yet passed, who can express their sorrow in the only terms they are familiar with.


---December 7, 2004

But it is disrespectful to do this kind of thing when the deceased specifically requested that it not be done.

Atheists are generally respectful of others beliefs. We don't bust into your churches waving Darwin posters, etc.
We wouldn't speak at a religious funeral and make comments about it all being nonsense. But we don't get reciprocal respect at all.



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