The new humanoid robot named Pepper can do many cool things. However, engaging in sexual activities is not intended to be one of them, at least according to its manufacturers.
Designed by Japanese technology company Softbank, Pepper is an “emotional robot” that will engage people on a personal level in order to help them grow, have fun, facilitate meaningful relationships, and overall enhance their lives. Pepper can move, talk, and be a super cute pal to anyone, especially Japan’s rapidly ageing population that lack enough qualified caregivers.
But with human nature comes trouble, and the designers took this into account when writing Pepper’s user manual. The document warns users that the robot is not designed to engage in “sexual acts” or “obscene behavior” with users. These user manual warnings have been attracting the attention of the media and the internet community as robot ethics starts to become a mainstream topic of conversation. The manual also addresses other ethically offside uses by forbidding using the robot to stalk or harass others.
Twitter has been particularly abuzz over Pepper’s message. One user wrote, “Humans aren't able to have sex with Pepper.” Another user questioned how engaging in sexual activities with a robot was even possible.
Softbank said that the person who wrote this particular section of the user manual for the robot has not yet commented on the issue. However, the company claims that the point of these messages was to discourage people from using the robot for personal illegal activities.
Pepper costs around $1,650 and, so far, the robot has been hugely successful. Each of its three batches quickly sold out. The next batch of Pepper robots is due to be released on September 26th.
Pepper is manufactured by Taiwanese company Foxconn, the same company that manufactures many Apple products, as well as electric cars for the Chinese market. Alibaba, the leading e-commerce company in China, also has money invested in the Pepper project.