Marshall Brain founded How Stuff Works, and wrote many interesting and informative articles for the site.
We share an interest in personal robotics. Like many US citizens, Mr. Brain's focus in Robotic Nation is on the potentially negative aspects of a integrating robots into society, such as mass unemployment. His writing reminds me of the endless fear-mongering that CNN's Lou Dobbs serves up daily on the evils of outsourcing and illegal immigration. I have a more optimistic point of view on personal robotics.
The Japanese attitude for robotics is quite positive, and their enthusiasm for personal robots resembles their enthusiasm for advanced cell phones. iMode mobile phone systems have features beyond what is known in North America, and Japanese society has evolved to incorporate behavioral modes that depend on the advanced features of the iMode phone network. Beyond mobile phones, the Japanese culture celebrates electronic gadgetry, and they already accept robots, including personal robots, into their daily experience.
Change is coming, and we can either embrace the future or bemoan the loss of the past. I think personal robotics will become a plaything of the rich in 2015; Mr. Brain predicts the mass market will explode in 2030. It's not like we didn't have any warning.
I think I need to start learning Japanese.