Feeling robots

Company forbids inappropriate touching of their robot

Masayoshi Son, president of SoftBank, introduces humanoid robot 'Pepper' to the press in Tokyo in 2014. (TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Pepper, a small humanoid robot capable of autonomous movement, basic conversation, and even detection and response to a range of human emotions, was a guest at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative’s ‘The Future of Global Impact’ conference in New York on Monday, but the otherwise exciting occasion was marred by a disturbing undertone – observers noted the robot’s user agreement warns owners “must not perform any sexual act” with the device. The robot is very clearly not a sex robot — it lacks anything resembling sexual organs and is primarily used in businesses for functions such as customer service — but apparently the warning is necessary. Strange subtext aside, the robots are a hit: 1,000 units each were put on sale in June, July, and August and each month the units sold out in just one minute. “Today is the first time in the history of robots that we are putting emotion into a robot and giving it heart,” says Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son at the robot’s introduction last year.

Read the full story at USA Today.

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