Pepper is a robot designed by SoftBank Robotics America with the purpose of making life easier and assisting humans on the job. Pepper is a greeter, one of the first robots of its kind. It helps guests out in hotels, hospitals, malls and airports, saving them time and helping them avoid human interaction for those moments when people don’t feel like engaging in conversations.
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WIRED interviewed SoftBank Robotics, which explained how Pepper works. The robot can only handle basic conversations, mostly based on yes or no answers. It can also dance and propose games. Pepper has trouble when it comes to more complex forms of conversations, ones that involve social cues or facial interactions. Because of this, the robot has a touchscreen, which you can activate when you want to find something fast or don’t feel like asking.
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Pepper works very similarly to Alexa and the Google Home. The main difference between these different forms of artificial intelligence (A.I.) is the fact that Pepper has a body and, for us humans, that’s a big deal. Even though you can ask any A.I. questions, there’s something about interacting with a device that has a physical and relatable presence.
A.I. of this sort marks a new type of interaction for humans. Interacting with Pepper is not like interacting with a person or a pet; it’s something new altogether that has the possibility of changing and growing.