Are Robots Dying?

A travel story from Japan.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
4 min readMay 19, 2023
Photo courtesy of author

The last time I visited Japan was twelve hundred and sixty-three days ago. Exactly. I know because I counted.

Every year, I used to travel four to five times to Fukuoka, the largest city on the island of Kyushu, to teach business disruption, technology, and law courses. My wife and I called Japan our second home.

Excited and curious after so long away, we embarked on the plane for a lengthy journey to our destination. A stop-over and three flights later, we arrived. It’s remarkable that you immediately pick up old habits after several years away. We recharged our contactless public transportation cards that were given to us more than ten years ago and took the train to our favorite accommodation — an apartment building complex that also offers short-stay housing.

I quickly dropped the bags and headed to the 24/7 convenience store to get sodas, water, and something to eat. It was already late, and we were starving.

Everything was still in the same place, and five minutes later, I was at the check-out counter. A person came running over to help me. He looked at me — followed by a flash of recognition — and he tilted his head slightly, and said,

“Welcome back. How have you been?”



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.