Drunk man arrested in Japan for attacking ’emotion-reading’ robot

Pepper, a Japanese robot that can supposedly understand human emotion, was kicked by a man in a phone store

A drunk Japanese man who reportedly kicked an ’emotion-reading’ robot in a fit of rage has been arrested.

The Japan Times reported that 60-year-old Kiichi Ishikawa did not like the attitude of the human store clerk at a SoftBank Corp store, a Japanese mobile phone and telecommunications company. So he took it out on the $1,600 (£1,048) robot, known as Pepper, instead.

The humanoid was created specifically for SoftBank Mobile to greet and interact with customers in stores.

According to Aldebaran, the creators of the bot, Pepper can converse with you, recognize or react to your emotions, and move autonomously. It is unknown whether he reacted to being angrily kicked.

The intelligent bot, which has been available to buy since June this year, can analyse your facial expressions, body language and the words you use to recognise five basic emotions: joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness. He can then respond in like, by adapting to your mood, by trying to cheer you up by playing a favourite song or telling a joke.

Customers stand in line behind SoftBank Corp.'s humanoid robot Pepper as they wait to pre-order the robot inside the company's store in Tokyo, JapanA model of the Pepper robot that was attacked  Photo: Bloomberg

Investigators told the Japan Times that security footage showed the drunken Ishikawa kicking the robot. While the human clerk was unharmed, the damaged Pepper now moves slower and its internal computer system may have been broken.

This recent case of rage against a robot comes in the wake of an incident with hitchBOT, a child-sized hitchhiking robot that relied on strangers to travel the world. In August, it was found with its head and arms ripped off, just two weeks into its first American tour.

Similarly, a video released last year by Boston Dynamics, owned by Google, showed a person kicking one of its dog-like robots in order demonstrate its self-stabilising ability. Animal rights charity PETA received so many complaints about the video that it was forced to issue a statement.Scientists believe that incidents like these might help robots to make people more empathetic.

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