Robots are coming to us — not in the way they did in the 2004 film I, Robot or in the Terminator series- — but as companions. Students can now make their dream of making a robot friend come true. As a collaborative effort of SoftBank Robotics America and the on-campus clothing store the Ave at USC, a humanoid robot named Pepper will be visiting USC and staying on the third floor of the bookstore from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20. Pepper will be greeting the customers, informing them about the Ave and helping them customize shoes.“We hope the students on USC’s campus actively come to visit Pepper at the Ave and have a full Pepper experience over the next few days,” said Jamie Soper, PR manager of SoftBank Robotics America. “The experience will give students a glimpse into the future of retail and how they might interact with Pepper on a daily basis in the very near term.”Pepper is an autonomous, talking humanoid robot that is capable of perceiving emotions and interacting with the people around her by adapting her behavior to the mood of the people around her. She was created by engineers at SoftBank Robotics in 2014 and made her first retail debut in SoftBank mobility stores. Based on the perceived body language, Pepper builds empathy and responds accordingly. “Pepper can identify joy, sadness, anger or surprise and respond appropriately, making his interactions with humans incredibly natural and intuitive,” Soper said. “At the heart of Pepper is a remarkable technology that analyses what you say, your tone of voice and nonverbal communication cues like the tilt of your head or posture.”USC is the first college campus Pepper has visited. “Our goal is to give the students a glimpse of what’s to come and get them comfortable interacting with Pepper in any given business environment such as retail,” Soper said.SBRA is the newly established North American headquarters of SoftBank Robotics Holdings. According to Soper, SBRA robots are used in more than 70 countries worldwide and offer innovative applications in the fields of research, education, retail, healthcare, tourism, hospitality and entertainment.The Ave, with Pepper helping out, was packed. Arnesh Sujanani, a sophomore majoring in economics, did not expect Pepper to be so advanced, though mentioned it had its shortfalls. “I was surprised by its high tech interactivity,” Sujanani said. “It immediately recognized my presence and made motions to interact with me. I was however, disappointed by its lack of movement, in terms of feet movement, capabilities. It was mostly stationery. Overall, I was still impressed by Pepper.”Nick Romero, the owner and the founder of the Ave, found Pepper useful in gaining attention of customers. “So far, Pepper has been interacting with guests. He definitely has been an attraction as far as getting people come in, showing different products, explaining history about the Ave,” Romero said. “After seeing Pepper working for three hours so far, I think it is pretty cool, but I can see what we can improve on.”
During a meeting with Canadian diplomats earlier this week, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, spoke about Guyana’s need for law reform.Attorney General Basil Williams in discussion with Canadian High Commissioner Pierre Giroux and Director General Isabelle BérardCanadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Pierre Giroux; and Isabelle Bérard, Director General, Central America and the Caribbean, Global Affairs Canada; along with Attorney General Williams, met at his office on Monday.During the meeting, they discussed his perspective of the justice system in Guyana and the expected contribution from the Canada-funded Impact and Jurist Projects, as well as prospects for future collaboration.High Commissioner Giroux informed the Attorney General that Director General Bérard will head the Justice Sector Programme titled “Women in Justice.” To this end, Williams pointed out that the country needs to have a Law Reform and Law Revision Capacity.The Attorney General also indicated that he would like the Canadian High Commissioner and the Director General to focus on projects that can strengthen the justice system, as this Government is in the process of restoring the rule of law.High Commissioner Giroux informed the Legal Affairs Minister that he will continue to work with his Ministry and other institutions.Additionally, Williams enquired about training sessions for State Attorneys and opined that they need to be exposed to the new procedures.He informed the two Canadian diplomats that he has to write the Chancellor about such a possibility.The Canadian Government has played an integral role in supporting the local justice system, hosting several training programmes and even providing funding enhancement initiatives. In fact, Canada donated over $100 million back in January to fund a training and capacity building project here.Moreover, earlier this year, police officers, police prosecutors and State Prosecutors received training under the specially designed project, “Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System”.Through its Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme (ACCBP), the Government of Canada is providing funds to Canadian NGO, the Justice Education Society (JES), to implement this project. The project is expected to last over a two-year period.The goal of the JES project is to develop the technical capacity of the Police, Police Prosecutors, State Prosecutors and Magistrates; to collect, analyse and present forensic evidence as a means of decreasing impunity rates. The JES team has been visiting Guyana since September 2015 and has conducted training activities with the local Police Force in the areas of major case management, forensic video analysis and crime scene management.In addition, Guyana is expected to benefit from two other multimillion-dollar regional justice programmes for the Caribbean. Former Canadian High Commissioner Nicole Giles had disclosed that the programmes are under Canada’s Regional Development Programme for the Caribbean. One of the projects will be implemented through the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the other through the University of the West Indies (UWI).