Japan takes the future seriously.
We love our robots here in the U.S. – from our super powerful automotive arms to our clever, collaborative Baxters, they are the coolest drivers of our manufacturing economy yet.
But in Japan, they're taking it a bit further.
Yesterday, Cyberdyne Inc. made its debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and investors went crazy. By closing bell, its $76 million (or 7.8 billion yen) IPO had surged 159% – one of the biggest first-day performances in Japan of any company in Japan this year.
That success sends a strong message to the industry and to the world: The robots are coming. Heck, they're already here.
Cyberdyne's early energy also suggests something else: a brand new narrative for the automation story.
To date, behind every new robot and every new piece of automation machinery in general, there is the story of humans being replaced, or at least displaced.
We tend to gloss over that detail with conversations about efficiency and speed, onshoring and precision, and the newer/better jobs those displaced workers are supposed to receive in trade.
But at the heart of it, robots have always been designed to do one thing: human work, only better.
But Cyberdyne has taken a different approach.
Cyberdyne's robot – the Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL – is a bionic suite designed to make its wearer stronger, more mobile and more effective. It makes the immobile user mobile, the disabled user independent and the industrial user a super-powerful, tireless bionic machine.
In other words, it helps humans do human work, only better.
And that's a great story.