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We don’t have to cry past the Pepper robot

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A few years ago, we had a Pepper robot to visit as a minority visitor. When you pass its game light, but the $ 1,800 capacity, the “interesting reading” was a fun place: a drive somewhere between Duplo and Netflix to take two less than six in the afternoon.

But Pepper, if you look back unusual of its systems, was a real huckster: the best-selling retailer for its low-end products. And he wasn’t any other old businessman. Robot, as SoftBank’s valuable creation and the biggest visionary form of the company’s founder-future, Masayoshi Son, was a huckster.

On his shoulders on the machine he had the impressive promise of a large market, the smartest people in the house, and most importantly, that Son was as accurate on the consumer-looking robots as he was with the broadband, phones and chips that boost SoftBank’s wealth. This is why the small future of automaton, and the sap that is now around, has become so exciting.

Last week, SoftBank confirmed Reuters report not only did it stop Pepper production last summer, but it also redesigned the Paris market – a key factor in Pepper’s growth since SoftBank acquired the French company 2012, Aldebaran Robotic. A very careful observer of Pepper’s entry into the public domain will not be surprised by the news.

Since taking over the world seven years ago, Pepper has failed to keep his promise. It did not embarrass itself, and it is always possible that, somewhere in its voyages, it inspired the next generation of robot engineers. But his role as ambassador of automation has been meaningless, his work ethic was limited and the idea that the cost of affordable, natural housing in private homes seems to be virtually nonexistent.

At least 27,000 peppers (SoftBank says the number is high but not definite) have been made, many of which are left to watch customers ignore them at SoftBank mobile stores. Others were invited to greet and listen carefully to the airport, museums and so on. Many were forced to work as audience during the plague sporting events; many nowadays can be seen at the very end of Tokyo’s shops, with their heads bowed and their electrical cords untouched. They have obviously gone beyond their natural instincts.

But wait, SoftBank strongly criticized: not writing about this humanoid or our great dedication to seeing home robots. Nothing has changed. Pepper’s mill could be suspended for now, the prophet said, but it will resume once the work is started and needed again.

The hard question here is not why the market will shout so loudly – because it won’t – but that’s why SoftBank doesn’t want to say Pepper is dead and tell us who will replace him. To support Pepper, SoftBank seems to be missing one of the most important features of humanoid robots: that, in the meantime, they should fail.

An important distinction, which is strongly reflected in any robots’ manufacturing business, is between large industrial robots, military or medical equipment and food suppliers (often as humanoid), home signs, and coat hangers. Those who are ready to change your factory, workplace, nursing home or battlefield today. The latter are there to fulfill the future with a sense of guiltless slavery, unlimited relationships and most of all, fame. The first group squeezes with what it can do; the second requires forgiveness for the impossible, but lightly says, “I will be worthy one day, sir.”

The only way the second group copies is that there is a big sign, which is growing all the time – a place where Pepper now is no longer a threat, but because a better robot has to be replaced. The problem with SoftBank, such as Pepper’s immortality, is that even though there is a good chance that a child will make a mistake in his or her professional career, it will still be there. completely successful, is at risk of being criticized when it comes to the stated vision of the future of the kind Pepper lives.

If the problem with SoftBank is that it did not invest in Pepper (which would be in line with the company very low cost in the robotic group Boston Dynamics), then we should expect to explain why home-made robots will not be in the future. If so, now is the time to give an heir to the world. Either way, SoftBank should not cry over this merchant.

lei.lewis@ft.com

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