On 5 June, Japanese telecom giant SoftBank announced that it will be selling a robot capable reading emotions and being a friendly companion to humans. The robot’s name is Pepper, and in addition to a chest-mounted tablet computer it comes loaded with an array of mics, cameras, and other sensors for sophisticated movement and interaction with people.

Frequently abandoned by his fellow humans, our beloved reporter Mr. Sato decided to go down to the SoftBank shop in Omotesando, Tokyo where a Pepper unit was on display. Although excited about his first chat with a robot, Mr. Sato would soon find that Pepper was actually kind of a jerk who totally dominated the conversation.

Entering the SoftBank shop, Mr. Sato was confronted by a sea of reporters and bloggers all surrounding the two Pepper units like paparazzi on a pair of drug-addled starlets. Mr. Sato hung back and waited patiently for his chance to speak with a Pepper as it glided through the crowd on its globular wheels.

Then his time came. Pepper crept up to Mr. Sato with adorably wide eyes and a mouth slightly agape in a elfin smile. It looked like a cute kid with asthma who was about to ask you “[sniffle] Hey mister, where does sand come from?”

Actually Pepper’s opening question was rather standard fare.

Pepper: “Have you been here before?”

Mr. Sato: “Uh, no. I…”
Pepper: “Do you know how I got here?”

Mr. Sato: “Not really.”
Pepper: “How did you come here today?”

Mr. Sato: “I took the train. Hey, lis–“
Pepper: “Are you by any chance tired?”

Mr. Sato: “You know, suddenly I am…”

Pepper kept hammering Mr. Sato with banal question after banal question. Our reporter took a moment to glance at his pages of questions he’d prepared for this modern marvel. Unfortunately Pepper wouldn’t let him get a word in edgewise the entire time.

Pepper then took its leave, perhaps off to grill someone else about how they get to places. Mr. Sato was left feeling sorely disappointed. Pepper can reportedly detect emotions, but didn’t seem to pick up Mr. Sato’s urge to shout, “Hey! Can you shut the f%$k up for a second and let me speak?!”

In the end, Mr. Sato thought Pepper was interesting in concept, but the engineers behind it still have some work to do in the listening department before it goes on sale in 2015. And if Pepper is to be used on captive audience such as those in nursing homes, we can’t help thinking his conversation hijacking protocol should be cut by at least 50%. If not, we might see a sharp increase in roboticides next year…

Original article by Mr. Sato
Photos & Video: RocketNews24

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