In 1999, Sony released with great aplomb what they considered the future of pets - a robotic dog called Aibo. A canine #companion thoroughly obedient, that doesn't need to defecate and only eats electricity. In short, a 'dog' for those that don't really like dogs or live pets in general...
In spite of the hefty $2,000 price tag #Sony sold around 150,000 robotic dogs, which actually makes the curious novelty a success; especially in #Japan where there are more Aibo owners than anywhere else in the world. Some owners bought more than one and became very attached to their obedient and friendly robotic dogs, which can even dance and play music!
However, as happens with every piece of #technology out there, at some point it needs to be fixed. Sony's recent decision to stop supporting or repairing Aibos means these robotic dogs will eventually die, not from age issues like their live cousins but due to lack of spare parts... Repair work is now being carried out by home-grown technicians, who have to cannibalise some Aibos to fix others.
The #New York Times made a video about the dying Aibos and their owners, who lovingly embraced them as a central part of their lives - The Family Dog http://nyti.ms/1MLY3hf
This video is very interesting and shows us three things:
a) From a technological point of view, it is remarkable that these Sony dogs lasted 16 years, far beyond the average 'life expectancy' of any other gadget nowadays.
b) In the end, Sony actually failed. Sony should have prepared the owners for the demise of their dogs and introduced some sort of alternative that could make the 'loss' less hurtful.
c) Our loving capacity is so great that we can actually love an object if we want to; which is something worth thinking about when in our not so distant future there will be human-like robots acting like our personal assistants. Will there be a human and robot marriage issue?