With 1,000 units set to go on sale later this month, Japanese telecom giant SoftBank has high hopes for its domestic robot, Pepper. If the company wants to achieve its dream of a Pepper in every home, however, numerous ethical issues must be considered and overcome, one of which being the thorny matter of owners who attempt to treat their little robot like an altogether different kind of helping hand.
It seems that SoftBank is already trying to keep ahead of the curve, however, by clearly stating in its documentation for Pepper that sexual acts with the cheery robot are strictly prohibited.
Pepper is designed with artificial intelligence to make it the perfect household companion by reading you emotions and providing the appropriate small talk and/or encouragement when needed. Our own Mr. Sato previously had a chat with one but found Pepper to be a little too banal for his tastes, mainly asking about his preferred means of transportation as opposed to his passion for adventure and dressing like a gyaru. Nevertheless, here is a short film about what SoftBank is hard-banking on the future being like.
Orders and information for the robots can be accessed on the SoftBank website along with a mountain of documentation for the various packages available. Some curious customers took it upon themselves to study up on the terms and conditions of using Pepper before taking the plunge, with one making a shocking discovery.
SAWADA Sho (@shao1555) September 09, 2015
The full page outlines a handful of things that using Pepper for would violate your contract. Many of the items seem like common sense—you can’t ask Pepper to send out spam emails, or ask it to beat someone up for you, for example. But point number 4 stood out even before someone highlighted it.
“(4) Acts for the purpose of sexual or indecent behavior, or for the purpose of associating with unacquainted persons of the opposite sex.”
Many interpreted that as legalese for “Don’t try to hump Pepper!” and took to Twitter to voice their surprise.
“Sex with Pepper… lol”
“I wonder if Pepper’s good in bed.”
“Mating with Pepper could result in a future race of super people!”
However, the clause doesn’t directly state that having intercourse with Pepper itself was a violation. Others took this to mean that users are free to do as they please with Pepper, but they can’t use the little robot to cruise for casual hook-ups with guys or girls you’ve just met. Unless, that is, they’re a member of the same sex.
“So this is saying getting sex with Pepper is bad, but not having sex with Pepper?”
“Well hell, if you can’t use Pepper to get some, might settle for Pepper.”
It went on from there with others speculating that it meant you’re not allowed to use Pepper as a sex toy, or to promote adult entertainment. Whatever the true limitation for use, it’s likely the SoftBank kept the wording intentionally vague, and rightfully so; who knows what creative depths a robosexual mind is capable of?
It’s good that SoftBank is covering their bases with this warning since I think we can all agree that as Peppers get shipped out, someone, somewhere, is going to try to get off with one. After all, humans are curious animals and always in search of pleasure. At least that’s what I kept telling my wife while was she uninstalling our central vacuum system.