A department store in Tokyo, Japan, will be using a humanoid robot to welcome customers from now until May 5, continuing Japan's ongoing decline into near-full automation.
Speaking a multitude of languages, from Japanese to Chinese to English, robot ChihiraAico can do all the tricks that make her appear human—laugh, cry, etc.—and can even display a variety of motor skills.
Upon entering the store, ChihiraAico will greet customers with a rosy smile before kindly directing them to the proper floor by running through prerecorded sound bites. She can't answer questions, but according to Toshiba Chief Specialist Hitoshi Tokuda—ChihiraAico's “creator”—such a vision may be achieved in the near future.
“We are aiming to develop a robot that can gradually do what a human does,” said Tokuda.
In an interview with Reuters, Tokuda expanded on his vision of what this “human-like” robot would do.
“It would be good if we can have [ChihiraAico] provide guidance,” he said, “or recommend various things in Chinese, so that people can be looking around and think 'Oh, if Aiko is around, she can speak Chinese!' That's what I hope will happen.”
Owing to Japan's increasingly steady population decline from contraception, people can expect to see more examples of heavy robotics in place of humans as the future progresses. One phenomenon that has already taken shape is the popularity of their life-like “sex dolls“ complete with “realistic-feeling skin and authentic-looking eyes.”