CHAPTER 2 Hybrid humanity: preparing for the robot–human interface


Pepper1 is not your everyday domestic robot. Jointly developed in 2014 by robotics companies Aldebaran (Paris) and SoftBank (Tokyo), Pepper robots now welcome customers into retail stores throughout Japan. They live in private Japanese homes, they are receptionists in European hospitals, and they work in American car dealerships, grocery stores and even elementary schools for disabled children.

What's so special about Pepper, given there is nothing new about robot helpers in factories, hospitals and homes? Pepper has been designed to interact with you in an emotional way — at least for a robot. By using face and voice recognition technology, it (he?) can identify the expressions on your face, interpret your voice and even engage you in conversation.

Can humans really relate with non-living entities such as Pepper? According to roboticists researching the human–robot interface, most people express ...

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