Quoted: Robots are coming. Get used to it

“I think no matter you like it or you don’t, robots are going to be as popular as cars, as machines, as airplanes. . . . Robots will be a part of the family.”

— Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, speaking at a news conference Thursday in Tokyo for the unveiling of Pepper, a robot that understands emotions. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, will be a 20 percent stakeholder in the robotics venture, along with Apple device maker Foxconn and Japanese tech giant Softbank. Pepper will be sold to Japanese consumers starting Saturday, and is touted as the robot with “a heart,” that not only recognizes human emotions but can react accordingly with them. Pepper and future “feeling” robots are envisioned to be companions to the elderly, playmates to children and assistants in offices. Among, um, other uses.

 

At top: Jack Ma, CEO of the Alibaba Group, speaks during the introduction of Pepper the robot.  (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

 

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