Apsara Horizon is the dialogue segment of Alibaba Group’s Apsara Conference. It features figures who are engaging with Asia’s cutting-edge technologies. In these dialogues, esteemed guests share their stories and perspectives on the challenges, opportunities, and future of their respective fields. The topic of the second Apsara Horizon conversation on October 19 was “Living with Robots,” with guest speakers Song Bo, chief scientist of Future Mind, and Wong Choon Yue, founder and director of Maju Robotics.
Even though the speakers operate in two different verticals, Wong and Song both shared the same perspective on the value of robot-centered solutions in retail and in sports—lowered costs and alleviated human labor. Noting that there is a common worry of robots displacing humans in the workforce, both guests emphasized that their robots complement human workers and are not meant to replace us. Maju Robotics’ humanoid robot, Edgar, serves customers in busy retail and hospitality scenarios, while Future Mind’s table tennis robot practices with players while maintaining consistent and measured intensity. “As robots are slowly and gradually encountered by people on a daily basis in very benign environments, such as hotels, offices, and restaurants, the awareness and acceptance will begin to increase,” said Wong.
Song said interactions with robots can add a new element to social interactions. He described the process of getting used to robot-human interactions as akin to learning a new language. In this case, robots are being fine-tuned to communicate like humans through non-verbal cues, like gestures and physical touch.
Check out the full conversation in “Living with Robots”: