And now this warning from Japan: Don’t have sex with the robots.
Japan builds some of the world’s most advanced robotic machinery, but at least one company appears worried that customers might have more in mind than commercial or industrial uses.
Mobile phone giant Softbank, which began selling a small humanoid robot named “Pepper” last June, includes a warning in its user agreement that owners “must not perform any sexual act” or “other indecent behavior” with the robot.
It should be noted that “Pepper” is 4 feet tall, moves on rollers and lacks the type of part that one normally associates with sexual activity.
The machines, which sell for about $2,000 each, are designed to move autonomously and hold basic conversations with humans. They also can detect and respond to a range of human emotions, according to Softbank.
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said during an introduction last year that Pepper is designed to understand and respond to a person’s “feelings.”
“Today is the first time in the history of robotics that we are putting emotion into the robot and giving it a heart,” he said.
“Pepper” has proved popular. All 1,000 units that were put on sale each month in June, July and August sold out online in just one minute each time. The machines are used primarily as customer service and office assistants. Similar models can be found in banks, hotels and retail shops.
It is not clear why Softbank found it necessary to include the prohibition against sexual acts in the lengthy user agreement. Softbank did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
Earlier this month, a Tokyo man was arrested for kicking a Pepper robot at a Softbank store because he was upset with customer service. No word on whether he had a relationship with the robot.
Pepper showed up in New York on Monday at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, where he was hugged by noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.