It is said that artificial pets can produce the same benefits for their human companion as the real deal which indicates that our emotional bond with companion animals is really just an image we project on our pets. Personally, I don’t believe it.
Nicky Trevorrow of Cats Protection, a major cat rescue organisation in the UK, said that this vision of the future of pets is depressing.
‘Programmed affection is no substitute for the real two-way bond between a pet and its owner. It is sad to think a lump of metal could take the place of a sentient being with a unique personality.’
The Pros and cons of programmed pets is stated to be as follows:
- Don’t foul carpets – no ‘inappropriate elimination’
- Don’t shed hair – that will please some people
- No allergies to cats! – that will please lots of people
- Hot cars don’t bother them
- Don’t require food and water
- Don’t need walking
- Don’t get lost
- No worries about getting injured
- No vet visits!
- No pet insurance
- Cat haters could not hate robo-cats
- Can you think of some more…..?
- They die when exposed to rain
- They require electricity
- They have artificial intelligence
- Love is programmed!
- They die when obsolete
- They die when there is no longer service support from the manufacturer
- They are not unpredictable and independent if they are a cat
A Japanese robotic dog built by Sony, Aibo, is the world’s most successful robotic dog. About 150,000 have been sold. Sony stopped making them in 2006 but people still possess and relate to them as pets but Sony no longer repairs them so as a breed they are becoming extinct! Owners give them funerals when they finally conk out.
Dr Rault, a veterinary scientist, said:
‘It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation’
Dr Rault believes that robo-pets will replace the real thing in a decade. He adds that making robotic cats is harder than making robotic dogs because “you have to make them unpredictable.” You’ll never be able to substitute the cat with a robot!
Although I disagree with the doctor, there may be some people who are suited to having a robo-pet. I am thinking of the many people who are unsuited to keeping a sentient being as a pet. They are unsuited to this responsibility because they relate to their cat or dog as an inanimate object, a machine. Giving them a robo-pet is exactly what they need. It would reduce cat abandonments and ease up the pressure on cat shelters/rescues and reduce euthanasia rates.
People who abandon cats and dogs for totally unjustifiable reasons could throw away a robo-pet and no one would have the right to criticize them.