It's 2018 and the focus on artificial intelligence has never been more prominent. With the release of Sofia, the advanced humanoid robot from Hong Kong's Hanson Robotics, AI is officially all the rage. Tech companies are racing to outdo each other, while the presence of robots is increasing. The Smithsonian is the latest institution to inject some tech into their operation. Visitors across six Smithsonian museums will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a 4-foot-tall robot.
Meet our newest employee, Pepper the Robot! We're the first museum complex to explore using Pepper, a humanoid robot who can sense when people are close by and engage them in conversation. #SmithsonianPepper pic.twitter.com/7zWcHRr3Pt— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) April 24, 2018
The wide-eyed, fully white being has a touchscreen, can dance, play games, and even take selfies with visitors. The Smithsonian made the announcement on Tuesday, introducing the world to 'Pepper'. The idea behind the AI forms is to attract visitors to the less popular exhibits while encouraging them to also interact with the displays, artwork, and other information around them. Pepper (they're all called the same name) is no one-trick pony either. They're able to tell interesting stories, answer questions, make jokes, and gestures.
Rachel Goslins, director of the Arts and Industry building, explained that experimenting with Pepper would hopefully help the museums to support educators, helping them to engage children and adults in a way that would be fruitful and beneficial. All of the robots were donated by Softbank Robotics at a cost of $25,000 according to News4. Each one is tailored to talk about the museum they'll be stationed at, but will always be accompanied by a member of staff.
If this all sounds fascinating to you, then why not head down to soak up some knowledge and see for yourself. You can bump into the delightful little guy at any one of the following museums - National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian Castle, the National Museum of African Art, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
How do you feel about robots? Exciting future prospect or just another fad? Let us know in the comments.