Japan's Pepper robot will soon have a snarky U.S. personality

Japan's Pepper robot, the adorable little robotic helper that works at some stores in Japan, is getting a new personality for use in the United States. It is expected Pepper will come to the US in 2016, and when it does, it will be a little more sarcastic than its Japanese counterpart. Rather than bowing, the robot will offer up a high-five. And if you ask it a dumb question, you might get a sassy remark back.

Pepper is the brainchild of SoftBank, which describes the machine as "emotionally intelligent". The robot went up for limited sales in Japan earlier this summer after being introduced in June. Because the robot was designed for the Japan market, it has a personality that meshes well with the local culture — it is cute and endearing, and for that reason may not be received well when it arrives in the US.

According to MIT Technology Review, Pepper will have some of its cuteness stripped away (from its personality, anyway) and replaced with a little bit of snark here, a bit of sarcasm there. Says the company that developed the robot, "In the U.S., we have this kind of C3-PO idea, where he's kind of snarky and kind of smart."

One example given is that when asked if it was the Terminator, the US version of Pepper snapped back, "Do I really have to answer that?" Of course, it isn't likely to be too sarcastic, as no one wants to drive to the store, only to be griped at by a robot. That's what the self-checkout terminals are for.

SOURCE: MIT Technology Review