Pepper and Son

Pepper and Son

Pepper, the new robot released by Aldebaran and SoftBank Industries, created quite a stir on Thursday. The robot is equipped with an "emotional recognition engine" that enables it to respond to human faces with appropriate sounds, gestures and actions.

Pepper was released with a great deal of fanfare at this two-hour Tokyo press event. Here's the marketing slideshow that explores the robot's key claim to a competitive edge: creating joy.
Pepper will be available for purchase some time in the Fall of 2014, for roughly $2,000, which seems like an incredible entry level price point.

Game changer? SoftBank's CEO, Son, claims it's a day that will be noted 100 or 200 years from now as the beginning of a new age of robotics. 

Big claim, but we're on the way to something huge in human-robot interaction, for sure!

Heres' a quote from CEO Son on the impact Pepper will have on our thinking about robots:

"People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we're giving a robot a heart, emotions."

Oh, and here's a Reddit AMA from one of Pepper's programmers providing some behind-the-scenes engineering info on how the robot works. 

UN Debate On Autonomous Weapons

London Protestors Against Killer Robots

London Protestors Against Killer Robots

"Autonomous weapons systems."

Even the phrase is scary: guns and bombs that operate on their own, making their own kill decisions.

As of now, these systems are still hypothetical. But, the US military and the UN are confronting the ethical questions surrounding this technological innovation before actual deployment of the hardware. 

That's a first. The follow-up conference will meet in November, 2014. Expect plenty of marchers, 'cause even the thought of these things is terrifying.