AI News, Robots Might Be the Necessary Future of Urban Pet Ownership

Robots Might Be the Necessary Future of Urban Pet Ownership

However, over the last several centuries and millenia, the relationship that most people have with animals has transitioned from “that looks tasty” to “that’s my ride” to “that’s cute and snuggly.” The industrial revolution replaced horses with engines, because engines better served our needs.

Thing is, studies have shown that robots can fill a very similar, if not completely identical, emotional niche: “Children treat the AIBO robotic dog as if it was a living dog, and this does not vary by a child’s attachment to a pet at home or involvement in computer technology.

notwithstanding that, scientists are still debating the function and benefits humans derive from (live) pets.” Plus, they don’t have upkeep costs or social needs of their own (although they could certainly simulate them, if you wanted them to), and if you’re going out of town, they’ll be fine on their own.

They miss having a dog, so they get a robot instead, and to them, it provides the same sense of emotional fulfillment: “If artificial pets can replicate the human benefits obtained from live pets, does that mean that the human–animal emotional bond is solely dependent on ourselves and the image that we project on a live or artificial interactive partner?

Does it ethically matter if the benefits of keeping artificial pets outweight the risks, sparing other live pets’ potential animal welfare issues?” Rault doesn’t discuss to what extent the robots themselves(in hardware and software) will be able to emulate animals, but it doesn’t really matter.

Our Future Pets May be Plastic and Metal Instead of Flesh and Blood

Melson’s research has examined how children, ranging from age 4 to 15, interact with the AIBO robot dog, finding most treat the robotic pet differently from a real dog.

Artificially furry friends like the the Joy for All Companion, Hasbro’s line of reactive robot dogs and cats, and Paro, a robotic seal made for therapy applications, have been used successfully for dementia patients, who often experience anxiety and distress.

The service that these animals provide are similar to those given by an actual animal, cutting the isolation and sadness caused by their condition with companionship and affection—without the feeding and care demands of living pets.

2016 study compared how 61 dementia patients fared when given a robotic pet (specifically, the Paro seal) three times a week for 20 minutes, as opposed to a control group who received the usual standard of care.

The results were notable: the group that spent time with Paro showed a decreased pulse rate and higher blood oxygen levels (a sign of decreased stress), a lower rating on scales for depression and anxiety, and a decreased need for both pain and behavior medication.

One small study also showed that children with autism engaged more with an AIBO robot dog than with a simple mechanical toy dog, displaying the verbal engagement and authentic, reciprocal interaction that autistic children often lack.

Yet developmental psychologists in particular have raised concerns: that humans exposed primarily to robotic animals, and not to living ones, might lack in the social or emotional connections provided by living creatures.

Melson added: “That question has given people pause […] are we going to diminish treatment of living animals, and people, because of the greater and greater presence of robots that seem to be good substitutes?”

She cited the example of robotic pets in nursing homes, wondering if a decision to use only robots, and never real animals, might diminish the potential therapy benefit.

Sony is bringing back its pet AI project — a robotic dog

AIBO is billed as a pet that behaves like a real dog using artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and interact with its owner and surroundings.

The upgrade sees AIBO equipped with new sensing and movement technologies as well as far more advanced AI backed by cloud computing to develop the dog's personality.

It sold about 150,000 dogs in Japan before ceasing production seven years later when its core consumer electronics business struggled in price wars with emerging Asian rivals.

'I asked our engineers a year and a half ago to develop (new) AIBO because I strongly believe robots capable of building loving relationships with people help realize Sony's mission (to inspire).'

Sony just announced a new Aibo robot dog

After more than a decade away, Sony has decided to resurrect its iconic robot pet brand with a brand new model simply called “Aibo” (model number ERS-1000).

Sony claims the new Aibo “can form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.” It uses ultra-compact actuators that allow its body to move along 22 axes, and its eyes use two OLED panels to show a range of expressions.

It uses deep learning technology to analyze the sounds and images coming through Aibo’s array of sensors, and uses cloud data to learn from the experiences of other Aibo units and owners.

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