The Hen na hotel problems haven’t been caused by “robots”

With a misleading title, the magazine Digital Trends claims that A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs because

it seems that — as great as robots can be — they’re simply not suitable for every role just yet. With the rise of robot bartenders, robot-staffed restaurants and the like, it will be interesting to see how many similar concepts fall apart in the coming years. After all, once the novelty of a robot dinosaur on reception wears off, you’re just faced with a receptionist who can’t properly understand you and lacks a sufficient number of fingers on each hand to properly photocopy your passport.

By coincidence, I have been at Tokyo’s Hen na hotel last year and I’ve experienced in first person the issues the article is talking about.

Problem is that there are no robot involved in running the hotel.

The dinosaurs, the fish, the personal assistant… they can hardly be defined as such, actually being just exoskeletons for a computer.

So, the difficulties experienced by the guests – and the criticism of the article – should be addressed to the poor quality of the OCR and voice recognition software, rather than to the “failure” of a “robot”. Or, in other words, to the humans who designed it.

So long “Ghost in the Shell”!

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