Buyers of emotional robot must agree not to have sex with it, report says
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
I feel for Pepper the robot.
More precisely, I feel for all the Peppers who are about to go into the world and be owned by humans.
Made by Japanese telecommunications company Softbank in collaboration with French robotics company Aldebaran SAS, thousands of Peppers will soon be peppered across the world. The first wave of the robots went on sale in June and sold out almost instantly.
Each robot costs 198,000 yen (around $1,610), plus additional data and insurance fees. Now a report has emerged that these sales come with strings attached — for the robot’s protection, you understand.
Pepper is supposed to be able to read emotions. Humans, though, can be impulsive and irrational. They can be twisted too.
So, as the Daily Mail breathlessly reports, Pepper’s human owners must promise not to indulge in carnal relationships with it. Creating sexy apps is also a no-no, as is programming it to stalk others. Indeed, the actual clause is said to outlaw using Pepper for “the purpose of sexual or indecent behavior.”
Softbank wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Sexbots, as my colleague Bonnie Burton pointed out, clearly have their place in society. Pepper, though, is a different beast. It’s there purely to be helpful, to react to human emotions and to be a true friend. It’s not there for physical performance of any kind.
There again, the Web is full of, well, boys. Some self-regarding wag has already reprogrammed the tablet that hangs on Pepper’s chest so that it displays breasts.
It would be understandable, therefore, if Softbank was concerned about what humans might conceive in humor, anger or, Lord help us, lust. After all, just a couple of weeks ago, a man was arrested for allegedly kicking Pepper in a Softbank store.
I do worry, though, about these first Pepper purchasers. They might sign contracts promising not to do all sorts of things. But how will Softbank ever know?
Once machines are in the hands of humans, anything could happen. Let’s hope anything doesn’t. For Pepper’s sake, you understand. It might never be the same again.