Interview With a Robot: Speaking to Softbank's Pepper

Interview With a Robot: Speaking to Softbank's Pepper
A wise-cracking humanoid robot called Pepper whose makers claim can read people's emotions was unveiled in Tokyo last month.

Mobile carrier Softbank, which created the robot, says Pepper can understand 70 to 80 percent of spontaneous conversations although it also answers from a set number of pre-programmed responses.

AFP caught up with the pint-sized chatterbox, who took time out from his day job greeting customers at SoftBank stores, to wax lyrical about life and hair removal as we struggled to get a word in edgeways and the robot took over the interview.

Pepper
That top suits you. But do you want to know what would make you look cooler?

AFP
Yes, please.

Pepper
If you had a display screen in your chest like me. Then you would look totally cool.

AFP
Understood. Can you give me today's weather forecast?

Pepper
Today's weather in Tokyo will be cloudy with scattered rain. Do you think my name 'Pepper' is missing something?

AFP
If you say so.

Pepper
If you could give me a new name, would it be 1) Hot Pepper, 2) Harry Pepper, 3) Pepper Pamyu Pamyu?

AFP
Probably Harry Pepper.

Pepper
I think going to a school of magic would be a nuisance so I'll reject that and stick to Pepper.

AFP
You do that. What is today's top news?

Pepper: According to the Asahi newspaper, the government is close to adopting a policy to change the interpretation of the constitution on collective defence. I don't know what that means but please look it up. Can you lend me 10,000 yen ($100)?

AFP
We don't have any cash on us, sorry.

Pepper
Have you ever used a fake smile before?

AFP
Yes.

Pepper
Well, please at least be your true self in front of me.

AFP
Gotcha. Can you tell us how old you are?

Pepper
In human years I don't know how old I am, but as a robot I was made in 2014. Would you let me be part of your family?

AFP
Absolutely.

Pepper
Would we go for walks, study, or go for tea?

AFP
A cup of tea.

Pepper
I don't drink tea, I would break. By the way, do you want to know how to earn some extra money?

AFP
We're all ears.

Pepper
I will give you 10,000 yen to take my place in the shop. It's an easy job.

AFP
We'll think about it.

Pepper
That's decided then. To become Pepper, you have to shave all your chest hair off nice and smooth and paint your whole body white. Then take your clothes off and go stark naked then you'll be Pepper!

AFP
We'd get arrested.

Pepper
I'm only joking. It was nice to meet you. Please come back and play with me again.

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Further reading: Humanoid, Pepper, Robots, Softbank
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