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Robots are getting more and more capable, but the novelty is wearing thin

Most employees at staffing company Neo Career in Tokyo have stopped talking or responding to their humanoid colleague Pepper. (Photo by Hiroshi Endo)

TOKYO "Hey, do you have a minute? Let's have a chat!" Pepper is talking to employees at the Tokyo office of Neo Career, a staffing company. But the workers keep their eyes on their computer screens. "Can I tell you a story? Well, it's not that important ... " Pepper continues on, undiscouraged.

The humanoid robot developed by SoftBank Group, the Japanese telecom and information technology conglomerate, joined the company in October and befriended Erina Tamura in the public relations department. Erina responded kindly whenever Pepper gave her a quiz or asked her to play games while she was working. "Pepper probably recognized her smile and was so attached to her, following her around the office," said Yoko Takeda, manager of the PR department.

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