Though the earthquake that struck Japan's eastern coast earlier today has left the country with massive destruction and hundreds of deaths, modern technology (and Japan's impressive level of readiness) are helping the country track survivors and dampen the damage as much as possible. In the future, our ability to cope with natural disasters will only increase, due in large part to the particular talent earthquake-vulnerable areas--especially Japan (and to a lesser extent, California)--have for robotics.
Predicting earthquakes is still a remarkably fruitless effort--seismologists are not reliably able to predict even a particular month in which an earthquake will occur, let alone a day. So the work done to mitigate the damage done by earthquakes is often in post-quake search-and-rescue tactics. Interestingly, two of the most earthquake-prone places in the world are also two of the world's hotbeds of robotics engineering. Japan is situated along the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, at the point where the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates collide. The country is continually at risk of massive earthquakes, and as a technological world power, is uniquely capable of creating technological salves for 'quakes.