The Japanese electronics store Yemada Denki will have the most attractive clerk ever next year, as Pepper the robot will report for the job.
Pepper is an amazing achievement in artificial intelligent technology, as will be able to perform live human-robot communication, using an extensive neural network as the basis of its image interpretation skills. It will have cameras that enable it to “read” human emotions and respond accordingly.
Pepper is produced by Softbank, that will be partnering up with IBM for a series of projects, including introducing the Japanese people to the emotional robot. However, this entailed that Pepper needed to speak perfect Japanese, in order to be able to communicate with the electronics store’s customers as best as possible, and this actually proved to be much more complicated than they had anticipated.
“The Japanese language presented IBM researchers with a number of unique challenges to overcome, most notably the first time the Watson system has learned a language that relies on characters not shared by the Western alphabet,” said Paul Yosemete, IBM Japan’s general manager, as reported by PC Magazine.
Japan appears extremely interested in introducing robots into the day to day life of its people, as Pepper will not be the only robot working with the public. This month, the Henn-na Hotel from Nagasaki has opened its doors to the public and it greeting them with robot receptionists, robotized bell boys are carrying their luggage to their rooms and a cute little robot will help them with small tasks around the hotel room. The only human touch that was deemed irreplaceable for the moment was that needed in housekeeping and security
This innovative take on the hotel business was actually meant to cut the extremely high costs of high quality hotels and provide better services for the guests at affordable prices. Pepper will be an even better version of the robotic staff than the Henn-na employees are, because it will be able to perform more complex conversation with clients.
Ironically, all of this comes right after the brightest minds in science and technology have signed a collective letter meant to warn the world about the potential dangers that artificial intelligent technology could bring along with it. They asked for a very strict ban on the development of AI weapons, that they believe could lead the human race to an untimely demise.
Pepper and the lot appear to be inoffensive though, so it remains to be seen what the Japanese people will make of life alongside robot companions.
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