Japanese robot to get Artificial Intelligence A humanoid robot Pepper is on display at SoftBank mobile shop in Tokyo (- AP photos)
Japanese robot to get Artificial Intelligence
Lexile

Robots continue to get smarter. They can be programmed to think. Well, not exactly think like humans, but respond that way.

Japanese mobile carrier Softbank says it will incorporate artificial intelligence technology from IBM into its empathetic robot Pepper. The robot will be available to Japanese consumers around midyear.

The artificial intelligence engine "Watson" is made by IBM. It is already used in health care, travel and insurance services in English. But an adaptation was needed to make it work and think in Japanese. That is according to Steve Gold. He is vice president of IBM Watson Group.

Unlike other cognitive technology that responds rather mechanically, Watson can learn over time like a human brain. Watson understands the concept of probability. That makes it sophisticated and more human-like for applications, according to IBM.

"It depends on the context of the conversation as to what the right answer would be," as opposed to how a computer would generally try to answer correctly, Gold told The Associated Press. "The world is seldom absolute."

Software developers who have made reservations for Pepper robots will get them sometime this month. They will cost $1,700, according to Softbank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son.

Consumers won't be able to get Pepper until between June and August, he said. Details of the sales plan were undecided, Son added. No decision has been made on overseas sales.

Softbank had said earlier that sales to Japanese consumers would begin this month as well. Son did not elaborate on the reason for the delay. But he said giving it first to the developers will mean more fun applications will be available when consumers get the robot. Son implied it wasn't quite ready as a product.

Pepper has a stunned face a bit like C3PO in "Star Wars." It moves around on wheels. In early demonstrations it was a bit mechanical in its responses. Gold said Watson will change that. Watson will make Pepper a smarter, more charming companion.

For example, two plus two is four in arithmetic. But in another context it could refer to a car design, Gold said. Watson is designed to figure out context and know which answer is more likely.

A call center using Watson will get the caller to the right solution more quickly. That will make for a less frustrating consumer experience, he said.

But the complexity of the Japanese language challenges even Watson, Gold said. Japanese includes thousands of characters with various meanings and several phonetic options.

Besides Pepper, Softbank will use Watson inside the company. Softbank will resell it in Japan to businesses such as call centers. The company will work with other companies to develop new applications, according to IBM.

Critical thinking challenge: What would you like to be able to do with a robot like Pepper?

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COMMENTS (154)
  • williamy-wal
    3/12/2015 - 01:35 p.m.

    I believe that this is an amazing advancement in technology but it kind of reminds me of those sci-fi movies where robots become smarter than humans and then take over the world. The text says that the robots are getting smarter and being programmed to think. Other then that I think that it would be a good idea to make robots smarter and a better companion because then it can help people. As it says "A call center using Watson will get the caller to the right solution more quickly. That will make for a less frustrating consumer experience." That is proof that people would find it useful to have a robot. In conclusion it would be a good or possibly bad idea to get a robot.

  • savannahe-And
    3/12/2015 - 01:38 p.m.

    I would train Pepper to get and make me food from the fridge and give it to me when I am doing something. That way my Mom or my step dad wouldn't have to make us food.

  • JaysonSGrey
    3/12/2015 - 02:36 p.m.

    I would definitely want one of these robots, if I had the money! It's so amazing that the human race has finally built a robot that thinks like a human! So awesome!

  • claytonju-And
    3/12/2015 - 03:36 p.m.

    I think it is cool how people are maniging to make these robots but how smart are they. I think they will be the future for us.

  • andrewcl-And
    3/12/2015 - 03:38 p.m.

    I would be able to get all a+s in school. I know that's kinda stupid but it would be cool to get all A+s. I would use the robot to build a giant exoskeleton robot so I could be a god.

  • jareng-And
    3/12/2015 - 03:48 p.m.

    here is what i learned from the paragraph above. i learned that a robot, named pepper, has been made in japan and will be available to the public between June and August.

  • tylieg-And
    3/12/2015 - 03:50 p.m.

    I really like this article. I think that it is interesting that they could make a robot with artificial intelligence. I've only see that happen on movies!

  • zacharyk-And
    3/12/2015 - 03:53 p.m.

    This article is about a japan robot in this article there is a japan robot that is made by smart kids and they win the contest that is what this article is about. the end

  • trentonsh-And
    3/12/2015 - 04:02 p.m.

    This article is about robits in japan. Robots are grtting a lot smarter. But they are not exactly like humans but they respond the same way the engine is made by watson or IMB.

  • CobarrubiasJ-Mee
    3/12/2015 - 04:14 p.m.

    I liked this robots. I would like one for Christmas. I wish we didn't have to type 25 whole words. But I like robots. They look scary and they scare me but they are still cool. :)

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