Designed by Softbank’s Aldebaran out of Japan , Pepper is described by the company as a “human-shaped robot” (not quite an android) who is “kindly, endearing and surprising.” Aldebaran designed Pepper — whom the company refers to as a boy, though her name and voice suggests she’s clearly a girl — to be the first robot to recognize human emotions. And she’s theoretically about to get much better at that too, as IBM is going to outfit Pepper with a special version of its brilliant Watson technology.
Pepper is still learning to interact with humans and understand emotional reactions, as she’ll readily admit. Though she learns in the cloud (like most aspiring AI creations) her reactions are quite limited in scope at present, so the word “conversation” might be stretching it a bit. But spending even a short amount of time with Pepper is enough to soothe some of that instinctual robot fear and replace it with sheer curiosity — maybe even wonder.