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Robot Pets Almost as Good as Real Ones?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the cutting-your-hand-on-a-loose-bolt dept.

Robotics 229

Gallamine writes "Many people claim that pets are good for their owners. But, what about robot pets? Some scientists at the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue's Veterinary school say yes, robot pets can benefit humans. Petting an AIBO caused the human stress hormone cortisol to decrease in patients, much like a real dog, although the effects weren't as pronounced. Also, AIBOs sent to nursing homes caused the residents to be less depressed and lonely. Similar research is being done by Dr. Dr. Takanori Shibata with his robotic seal named Pero."

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Dr Dr? (-1, Offtopic)

nagora (177841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537867)

There's a post-grad that doesn't know when to stop!

No comparison (5, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537871)

A real dog is devoted to its master and euphoricly happy to see him/her.

A robot dog is a pile of parts running a program.

Re:No comparison (4, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537889)

It depends how smart your robot dog is. I've had some robotic and digital pets that were very intelligent and because they had built-in emotion systems and learning they could learn love, hate, loyalty, etc. Not as good as a real animal yet but it does have the benefit that when it breaks you can fix it which is something I sadly cannot say of my real pets which I've lost many of over the years.

Re:No comparison (2, Insightful)

GuidoW (844172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538078)

No, a robot pet can never learn love, loyalty, hate or other emotions. It can at best closely mimic the behaviour caused by these emotions in real animals.

Re:No comparison (2, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538123)

Why not? A brain is nothing but a computer and emotions are nothing but a function of the mind. If it is hard programmed to do these emotions then it is only a mimic. If it learns them itself then it is feeling them.

Re:No comparison (3, Insightful)

GuidoW (844172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538219)

No, a brain works fundamentally different from a computer. True, a very much evolved computer may show emergent characteristics that might be interpreted as consciousness and emotions, but those would likely bear little resemblances to our idea of emotions.

Anyway, everything we have right now in this department is just a cheap, superficial copy of the real thing.

Re:No comparison (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538296)

*shrugs* The difference between brain and computer is arguable I guess since nobody really understands the brain entirely yet but pretty much any kind of processing can be done on a computer that can be done in the brain if you know how it works. Slower but the same thing in principal. My experience is that emotions are not very intensive to process as it's just a much more internal network of experience than a thinking system. If you do something and it hurts then you quickly learn that and the relationships are pretty simple. Not nearly as hard to process as advanced relationships that are required for understanding language, navigation, science, math, etc.

No doubt commercially available toys are pretty simple. I'd be surprised to learn that any of them have a real learning system in place much less psuedo-emotions based on a learning system. Still it's very possible to do and has been done often enough in non-commercial products. I've had several virtual pets of my own design that had complex emotional systems.

Re:No comparison (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538298)

A brain is nothing but a computer and emotions are nothing but a function of the mind

Oh Yeah ! And we are all a bunch of electrons and neutrons bunched together in a specific way.

Why haven't scientists been able to mimic even a rat's brain in a lab with a synthesizer.

Face it buddy: you know as much about the complexity of brain as a Neanderthal would know about Halliburton-Cheney nexus.

Re:No comparison (4, Interesting)

david.given (6740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538126)

No, a robot pet can never learn love, loyalty, hate or other emotions. It can at best closely mimic the behaviour caused by these emotions in real animals.

Are you sure? Can you prove that? Can you state what it is makes a 'real' animal different from a robot, other than several orders of magnitude of complexity?

Re:No comparison (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538210)

As far as today is concerned, a robot is executing a program, which means that it will never do anything it has not been programmed to do by a human being. This is inherently different from a real dog, where more or less noone has a clue of what's going on inside.

A dog is the only master of its behavior, not a robot (ie: a program).

--
Krazy Kat [ignatzmouse.net]

Re:No comparison (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538435)

As far as today is concerned, a robot is executing a program, which means that it will never do anything it has not been programmed to do by a human being. This is inherently different from a real dog...

Learning algorithms are as old as computing; you can easily build a system that will learn from its environment. Does learnt behaviour in that respect count as 'programmed by a human being'? Do you also count algorithms constructed using evolutionary systems? How are they different from behaviours induced in dogs via directed breeding or training?

And given that both computers and dogs are both made of symbolic processing elements, can you point at any specific difference between the two, other than the fact that dogs are way, way more complex? Because it sounds very much like your argument is based on 'because they're different, dammit'.

Re:No comparison (5, Insightful)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537896)

A robot dog is a pile of parts running a program.

So is a real dog, just the parts are squishier and the programme is more complex.

Re:No comparison (2, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537927)

"So is a real dog, just the parts are squishier and the programme is more complex"

Sometimes the less complex program of an electronic dog is a plus, as it would lack these functions:

1. Go apeshit when the doorbell rings
2. Piddle in the corner at random times
3. Jump on visitors
4. Hump visitors' legs and sniff their crotches
5. Suffer from separation anxiety when you go to work
6. Fish out "treats" from the catbox.

--
BMO

Re:No comparison (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538463)

Maybe so, but if I had an "e-dog" I would miss coming home and having my 100 lbs of dog acting like I am just the most wonderful person in the world. Watching her whole body wag with joy (I'm not kidding) is pretty uplifting. You aren't going to get that out of a computer chip.

Re:No comparison (2, Insightful)

Chatsubo (807023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537907)

You are a pile of atoms arranged a certain way. Running an adaptive neural network.

If you make a robotic dog that looks real, and acts all happy when it sees it's owner. What makes it less real than an organic dog?

Re:No comparison (2, Funny)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537945)

The mess that real dog leaves in the corner?

Re:No comparison (0)

Noisllet (915197) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537957)

What makes it less real than an organic dog? The essence if it's creation?

Re:No comparison (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538134)

What makes it less real than an organic dog?

It can't have robotic puppies.

Look on the bright side dude! (3, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538086)

A robot dog is a pile of parts running a program.

At least you won't feel guilty about vivisecting your robot dog... and it is alot less messy.

Re:Look on the bright side dude! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538356)

I guess it's time to start PETR (People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots).

Re:No comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538147)

A robot dog is devoted to its master and programmed to be happy to see him/her.

A real dog is a pile of cells running some genetic code.

Re:No comparison (1)

gamigad (932350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538161)

True, but think of the possibilities when you scale that up to a RealDoll http://www.realdoll.com/ [realdoll.com] Now there's a cuddly feeling. Of course you do have to clean up afterwards.....

Re:No comparison (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538162)

A real dog also runs a program, although the computer is of different nature to the robot dog.

Re:No comparison (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538182)

"A robot dog is a pile of parts running a program."

So is a real dog, except the program is more complex.

Re:No comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538316)

Have you ever opened your dog? Try it sometime. It has a Zilog Z80 with 64KiB (count'em) of ram. That's all is needed for a dog to function. FWIW cats are way more complex and recent models sport a ARM7-compatible processor, with up to 8MiB of memory. So yes, a robot can act the same way.

Some dogs come with faulty firmware which causes them to become extremely violent and, in some exteme cases, attack people. You might have heard about that in the news.

Re:No comparison (1)

peteremcc (913806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538407)

----- robot pets can benefit humans ----- well duh, its called entertainment, thats why they were less depressed... Peter http://peteremcc.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

Maybe not "as good as" but they definitely help. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14537873)

After all, look at how much comfort and companionship a child can get from a simple teddy bear. Same concept, your imagination will create a personality for your little friend if necessary.

Re:Maybe not "as good as" but they definitely help (2, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537904)

Good point, I wonder how a non-intelligent psuedo-pet compares to a more intelligent model so far as the benefits on the human psyche. Anything we associate with comfort and stability I imagine would have a strong bond with how we react to them.

For example a favorite pair of jeans or any similar item. We're not even associating them with a living being but we still tend to personify them and cling to them as something we'd miss even if we replaced them with an identical item.

Re:Maybe not "as good as" but they definitely help (1)

CaptainFork (865941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538129)

When I come home I get turned on by my computer. I browse a bit. Read slashdot. Checkup on a few online strategic games to see how things are going, update my website, code a bit... All these actions are to make me feel alive. To puzzle with tiny bits in my life. A dog, cat, fish etc. would be the same. When I was a child I had an aquarium. I could look at it. I needed to feed the fish. Sometimes I had to clean it up. It usually took several hours but was quite fun. Other times I bought a new fish and put into the tank. We also had a dog. It was always happy to see me. It greeted me when I came from school. I hated when it was my turn to go out with it, especially when the weather was bad, but that's a part of life. And now I pet my computer. It do make me feel happy. Time goes by. I have something to do. Maybe it's not about the pet... maybe it's about having something (slightly) useful to do when we come home from a long day at work. Something relaxing. Something to take our minds away from work and into idle mode... just maybe.

why wonder, did you not have a teddybear? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14537879)

why should this effect not be understandable? when we were kids, we had plush-friends that helped us e.g. falling asleep. now having a moving, mechanic sounding fluffy battery-powered friend, that only seems to express the ongoing of industrialisation / techdom.
i really don't wonder =)

Re:why wonder, did you not have a teddybear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538167)

some girls have a moving, mechanic sounding battery-powered friend...helps them relax I hear

My Pet (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14537887)

No robot can ever replace my pet rock!

Re:My Pet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14537930)

just remove the batteries, and you'll see your robot pet is just as good :)

Re:My Pet (1)

srikantux (865596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538166)

No robot can ever replace my pet cock!!

Latest electronic rock from my gov (alleged) (1)

bobamu (943639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538170)

You could replace it with a spy rock [bbc.co.uk] And you'd never need feel alone again

What do I dream of? (5, Funny)

ShadowMarth (870657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537900)

I wonder how much an electric sheep would cost...

Robot dog or entertainment center? You pick ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14537906)

And what happens when you give the patients brand new 60" LCD TVs instead? Is it really pets, or just the novelty of new toys?

When the novelty is gone (2, Insightful)

Linus Sixpack (709619) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537908)

A cool new thing might make sick and old people less bored. They are people after all. A new robot would make my day!

What happens when every institurion has its IBO? Will they be as interesting as a dog when the novelty runs out? I don't think so.

I'd really worry about a fleet of 'entertainment' robots looking after our sick and aged. Seems like a classic setting for a robot uprising story.

ls

Re:When the novelty is gone (1)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537944)

Seems like a classic setting for a robot uprising story.

Seems like a classic opportunity for an "I, for one, welcome..." post on Slashdot.

Re:When the novelty is gone (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538377)

I, for one, welcome the classic opportunity.

Re:When the novelty is gone (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537958)

If you click on the "History" link, you're brought to a japanese web page...and it looks like a lot of people (relatives) are visiting. If you visited your gramma in the rest home, don't you think she'd be happy?

Just a thought.

You, yes YOU, who are feeling guilty reading this...go visit your gramma.

--
BMO

Re:When the novelty is gone (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537991)

If you click on the "History" link, you're brought to a japanese web page...and it looks like a lot of people (relatives) are visiting. If you visited your gramma in the rest home, don't you think she'd be happy?

A lot of Japanese today have moved into the major metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama) since that's where the jobs are, while the older relatives stay behind in the home villages. And when you have a full-time job and live several hundred kilometers away, you can probably visit no more than a few times per year. I'm sure they are happy for those visits, but then there's some 360 days left in the year without them.

A robot cat would be easy (2, Interesting)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537909)

No trainability whatsoever, and responds to four primal instincts: Sleep. Eat. Kill. Hump. In the case of male cats you can add Fight.

Seriously, I love cats, but contrary to popular belief, they are the LEAST "spiritual" animals I know.

Hump? (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538104)

I have never seen a fixed cat hump anything.

And you forgot three important ones - play, purr, and cuddle. No dog is as cute as a playing cat. And my cats would be on anti-depressants if they didn't get to cuddle with someone at least once a day.

Re:Hump? (1)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538255)

There's an interesting point here. Domestic cats are stuck in a kind of kitten mentality because they have been taken away from their mothers and raised by humans from an early age, which is where the playing, purring and cuddling comes from.

The purring seems to be an instinct sparked by physical proximity more than contentment: any vet will tell you that an injured cat in severe pain will still purr, and purring doesn't necessarily indicate the cat is comfortable.

They're amazingly "well designed" animals compared to us monkeys though - I suspect cats could take over the world if they wanted to, but they just can't be arsed.

Re:A robot cat would be easy (1)

DeveloperAdvantage (923539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538106)

I suppose now you will get bombarded with stories to the contrary...so let me be the first.

One of the cats we have now is the most social I have ever seen. When at home he will actually follow me around from room to room and curl up by my feet while I'm on the computer. He does not just do this for the first few minutes each day, but does it consistently all morning and afternoon. He is the first cat I have seen with such a strong desire to be social with people. He also listens to very rudimentary commands, but, other than the occasional meow, has not yet started talking back.

Re:A robot cat would be easy (2, Funny)

peginald (717763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538124)

A robot cat would also have to be able to detect those with a deep seated fear of cats and then dig their claws into them.

Same Mentality (1)

mercedo (822671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537910)

Yes. Just the same. Owners show the same mentality here.

Real animal (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14537917)

I do understand that not all can have a real animal.. but.. for the rest of you, theres alot of loney pets in diffrent shelters around your country, why not save one? I did, and I cant understand how attached I got to the little one, his now a part of the family. Amazing experience as I never had any animals before, and they dont require alot of maintainance either.. easyer then keeping a flower alive, as pets complain when they need food/water.. :-)

Re:Real animal (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538247)

WEll, plants complain too! They just do it by turning brown.

of course (3, Interesting)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537918)

of course robot pets will work, just like teddy bear [google.com] works. And is much cheaper.

Re:of course (1)

Flaming Babies (904475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538168)

Why not combine the two... [teddyruxpin.com] ?

Drinking Bird (2, Insightful)

giafly (926567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537920)

I once owned a drinking bird [rotten.com] , but I can't say I noticed any health benefits from my robot pet.

I prefer plants instead as they are easy to care for and bring real health benefits [google.co.uk] .

Animal Assisted Therapy (3, Insightful)

sczimme (603413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537921)


But there are some places where they can't live, such as nursing homes. So can a robot pet provoke the same reactions?

Not to nitpick, but this is not always true. I have an elderly relative in a nursing home, and the home itself has a canine companion. (However, I can see how it would be difficult/impossible for individual residents to have pets.)

Second, the effects of Animal Assisted Therapy [google.com] are well known. It makes sense that a replicant (like the Aibo) that offers a subset of relevant canine functionality could offer a subset of the health benefits as well.

Re:Animal Assisted Therapy (1)

Mark J Tilford (186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538212)

Wouldn't an Aibo be an automaton instead of a replicant?

careful, that aibo has DRM! (2, Funny)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537948)

in the future, sony's aibo will spy on it's owners for playing copied DVD's and CD's... it will then use it's wifi to connect to your access point and let it's evil master sony know what you are doing... but really, who has $2k to blow on some pice of crap, robosapien kicks ass anyday!

obl. (2, Funny)

someguyfromdenmark (910971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537963)

I, for one, welcome our robotic canine overlords

Mental Commit Robot For Psychological Enrichment (2, Funny)

Max Threshold (540114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537969)

"Seal Type Mental Commit Robot Paro"

That's exactly what I would have called it. Yep...

Play with it long enough, and you get committed.

Re:Mental Commit Robot For Psychological Enrichmen (1)

Ours (596171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538095)

Sounds like the average "big robot defender" type of anime.
Substitute the troubled teenage pilot with a dog and you'r off.

Now the elderly can club baby seals (1)

blank_vlad (876519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537973)

From http://paro.jp/english/function.html [paro.jp] :
Paro has five kinds of sensors: tactile, light, audition, temperature, and posture sensors, with which it can perceive people and its environment. With the light sensor, Paro can recognize light and dark. He feels being stroked and beaten by tactile sensor, or being held by the posture sensor. Paro can also recognize the direction of voice and words such as its name, greetings, and praise with its audio sensor.
I'm really looking forward to nursing home life now...

This question was posed back in 1973... (3, Funny)

sticks_us (150624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14537986)

...by woody allen (in Sleeper)

"...and after you've moved into your permanent home, you'll enjoy mechanized servants. Until then, you can have a computerized dog."

[rags the robot dog, in computer voice] Woof. Woof. Woof. Hello, I'm Rags.

[woody allen] Is he housebroken, or will he be leaving little batteries all over the floor?

Re:This question was posed back in 1973... (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538125)

No way could futurama exist without sleeper.

um, dr. dr. ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538007)

why does it say dr. dr. ?

" Dr. Dr. Takanori Shibata "

Re:um, dr. dr. ? (3, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538120)

"Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a robotic pet!"

"Yes, yes, calm down. Aibo-leive you."

Can it catch a frisbee? (2, Insightful)

cherokee158 (701472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538024)

I have yet to see a robot dog that can follow my kid down the stairs, eating every single potato chip he drops.

Why spend hundreds of dollars on a anthropomorphic toaster by Sony with a crap warranty when you can own a miracle of millions of years of evolution that will last up to 15 years for next to nothing?

Re:Can it catch a frisbee? (1)

imrec (461877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538174)

"last up to 15 years for next to nothing?"

Assuming minimum 1 turd/day
100$/yr Maintenance (vet bills)
2$-10$/wk Food (dog dependent)

$1500 in Bills
2*52*15 = $1560 in food
1 turd/day * 365 day/yr * 15 yr = 5475 smelly ass turds.

Picking up every single one? (unless, of course, you've got some land)

Anyone?

Re:Can it catch a frisbee? (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538176)

You forgot the few thousand years of genetic manipulation by human breeders.

Let's face it, a real dog is hardly the most natural of beasts in the first place.

Re:Can it catch a frisbee? (1)

edoug (66662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538396)

That's why iRobot is making the "Booma-Roomba Pet Edition!" It's even shaped like a frisbee: throw it and it comes back to you in addition to vaccuming and obeying commands.

Well, duh! (3, Interesting)

MoThugz (560556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538027)

They don't get sick, thus don't have vet fees amounting to hundreds a year (if not thousands). They don't pee, they don't shit. They don't cause lawsuits from the paper boy who just got his gonads chewed. And you can silent a yapping robot pet by taking out its batteries and not get the SPCA on your ass.

So hell yeah... robot pets are definitely better than those damn pesky biological ones!

Re:Well, duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538148)

An empty toilet paper tube has all the "advantages" over a real pet you listed.

It also is free, easily replaced, doesn't take batteries or any power source, and makes a good toy telescope.

Hell yeah, a toilet paper tube is way better as a pet than those pesky electronic ones.

Blue Screen of Death (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538033)

How much stress relief is your robot pet going to give you when he gets the blue screen of death?

At one time, a toy store had a clearance sale on those Virtual Pets, those things with the little LCD screen you hang around your neck, and feed and take care of, for like $1 a piece. Cut little pixelated pandabear. I was like, whoa!, awesome bargain, I figured I could give them to little kids I saw and brighten their day. I bought 20 of them. Came with battery and everything, all you had to do was pull out a little piece of paper to make battery contact and the thing was off and running.

Let me tell you, those were the most ***!^@^#$^#$ annoying things in the world. Even though they had a clock built in, they had no concept of time. Would beep at you constantly, at random, 3 hours, here, there everywhere, all through the night. You wanted to smash the !@@##$$% hell out of them, and this was just with one running.

People are going to feel the same about robot pets. Like shut the @#$%%^ up, you piece of #$%%^^. Its absolutely a braindead idea. Geeks are such incredibly brilliant morons who are long short on common sense, and this is just another example.

Computers and people are a pain enough in this world. The less you have of both, the more stress free your life is. Notice how stressed out you get when your computer is not running absolutely optimal. Exactly. Or when friends are hitting you up to do something for them or bail them out of some bs? Get rid of them all.

Robot pets = more junk for the recycle bin

Robots that do useful but repetitive work over and over with zero maintenance or user input = golden

My microwave = a beautiful thing
My honda rebel motorbike, that cranks up everytime = a beautiful thing
An analog dial thermomenter on my wall, that always words and needs no batteries = a beautiful thing
The brick that holds up my house via compression, and will last for thousands of years and still work =

Aluminum, that is an excellent roofing material, because it never rusts (well not technically, but when it does, it makes a ruby hard surface when oxidized that protects it forever)

Glass, because if not shattered, lasts a million years

A beautiful thing

Whats not beautiful:

Windows computers, that crash and break when you overload them
Linux computers, that are buggery complicated and obtuse to configure or remember a long line of command line params for (nigh impossible if you are diabetic or hypglycemic), and whos man pages are total garbage
Mac comptuers, that you have to reboot everytime you pick a new set of extensions, and freeze with a rectangle and a bomb in them.

All cars, in general, that were never built with any study made by an engineer actually going into a junk yard, and seeing what lasts

Iron, steel because it rusts and turns to junk
Wood, because it rots

Rats, dirt, dust, lint, and spiders, because you always are having to clean up after them (in my computer shop)

You know, in 20 years in the comptuer business, the only piece of computer hardware I have ever had that has never become obsolete and turned to junk, is the ubiquitous standardized power cord. The POWER CORD! All other computer hardware, even keyboards and mice (switching from AT, to PS2, to USB) have become obsolete and crap. But these power cords, as humble as the are, are the only thing that have resisted obsolecene. Why, because its a !@#$ standsard that should never be changed. When you !@#$ with ANSI, you mess us all over.

I imagine now that I have posted this, the morons in the computer industry for no other reason are going to switch to different power cords, just to sell us all more power cords cause we have to buy them, because our old ones won't work anymore.

Re:Blue Screen of Death (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538188)

My honda rebel motorbike, that cranks up everytime = a beautiful thing

Maybe they're aiming these pets at owners of old Brit bikes?

Re:Blue Screen of Death (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538244)

Glass is a viscous liquid. If it's not shattered, it will be a puddle in a few centuries.

You can see the effect in windows just a few decades old where the top is much thinner than the bottom.

Get some brains before you post. So far the crap you have in your head is more useless than rotted wood laced with rat droppings.

Re:Blue Screen of Death (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538334)

Well, a few years ago my whole company went around to every desktop and replaced all the grey power cords with black ones. (or vice versa) I guess the faulty grey power cords sold for years with electronic equipment were not up to snuff.

So I guess there *is* a difference in power cords also! :)

Pfft, robots. (1)

Mister Impressive (875697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538037)

Call me when robot pets get realistic tongues and can lick peanut butter off stuff.

Re:Pfft, robots. (5, Funny)

blank_vlad (876519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538056)

Call me when robot pets get realistic tongues and can lick peanut butter off stuff.
Pervert.

Re:Pfft, robots. (1)

Mister Impressive (875697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538262)

Pervert.

Takes one to know one

;)

Maybe its not only pets... (4, Insightful)

Saggi (462624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538039)

When I come home I turn on my computer. I browse a bit. Read slashdot. Checkup on a few online strategic games to see how things are going, update my website, code a bit...

All these actions are to make me feel alive. To puzzle with tiny bits in my life. A dog, cat, fish etc. would be the same.

When I was a child I had an aquarium. I could look at it. I needed to feed the fish. Sometimes I had to clean it up. It usually took several hours but was quite fun. Other times I bought a new fish and put into the tank.

We also had a dog. It was always happy to see me. It greeted me when I came from school. I hated when it was my turn to go out with it, especially when the weather was bad, but that's a part of life.

And now I pet my computer. It do make me feel happy. Time goes by. I have something to do.

Maybe it's not about the pet... maybe it's about having something (slightly) useful to do when we come home from a long day at work. Something relaxing. Something to take our minds away from work and into idle mode... just maybe.

emphatically yes! (1)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538048)


Why, I still am rewarded with bleated beeps of love and affection from my faithful Petster [aliceww.com] each and every day! ...I just hope Duracell continues to produce "C" cell batteries.

~jeff

yeah right (1)

PerlDudeXL (456021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538083)

I robot pet could never replace my cats. Never.

Kittens! ^_^ (2, Interesting)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538109)

Wake me up when they build a cuddly robotic kitten, that will ride around on my shoulder being cute at people for the rest of eternity!

Re:Kittens! ^_^ (1)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538242)

I don't find cats "cute" but some can be very graceful & colourful. Anyways, I prefer dogs - A burglar doesn't think twice when he sees Tiddles the tabby sitting in the bay window, but when he sees my 4 yr old Dobermann (male, black & tan, looks a bit like this [schwima.com] ) snarling at him through the letter box, fudge gets made.

Of Course (1)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538116)

You can hit them, break them and throw them and they won't complain which is not possible with living pets,Living pets make you feel human and make you care about them.

Next headline (0, Flamebait)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538118)

Realdoll (not safe for work) [realdoll.com] just as good as real woman.

Do only blithering fuckheads have mod points now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538220)

Honestly, bringing up the RealDoll is a valid parallel. How is this flamebait? The moderation in this joint get more dumbass every day.

Re:Do only blithering ... have mod points no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538307)

"Honestly, bringing up the RealDoll is a valid parallel. How is this flamebait?"

I suspect that it was the "just as good as a real woman" crack.

If you'd said, "Will they be telling us that the RealDoll is just as good as a spouse next?" then it might have been funny.

It's also worth noting that RealDolls come in both male and female versions. Talking about just the female version is a bit flamebaitish in and of itself. Maybe you just happened on the day that one of the female readers of /. had mod points and a lack of sufferance.

If your intent was to make a joke, then you need to let the readers in on your intent more.

If you were trying to make a statement...I still don't know what it was. Maybe some context? You know, at least include the statement that you are trying to make?

Try reading /. at -1 some time. You will see a bunch of posts like yours. Only those posts are not made in jest.

Double doctor? (1)

slackah (909787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538131)

Dr. Dr. :>

I've always wanted a Dalek (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538172)

I hope I can get it [wikipedia.org] in my apartment without the landlord seeing it. We aren't allowed to have pets, but the girl that lives next door has a goldfish, so wtf? I can just see me and my Dalek going out jogging through the park with the rest of the pet owners on a saturday morning. Seeing that cuddly Dalek with a big smile on it's face not knowing which poodle to exterminate first is just sheer joy I tell you. We live joyous lives through our pets.

There are 11 types of AI researchers (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538175)

From the PARO Q&A section [paro.jp] :

Q: How did Paro get its name?
A: There are three reasons.
(1) Paro comes from Personal Robot
(2) "Pa", an explosive sound that is easy to remember

Ai-ai-ai!

You can't replace a pet's personality and looks (2, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538187)

Something that will never be duplicated by a robot is a pet's personality and individual look.

Most all these robots look and act the same, its fun for a week and then it is just another gadget.

An old cliche... (1)

In Fraudem Legis (937585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538225)

Robots need love too, you know.

What about pet rocks? (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538232)

Are pet rocks as good as live pets too?

Robots?! No way! (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538280)

So Robot pets eh? I personally own 4 parrots. Now, how on God's green Earth is a Robot supposed to mimic the antics I see on a daily basis that I see in my birds? Now, the birds honking, screaming, talking, coming up with their own sentences, being fluffy, playing in water and stealing my food... can't be replaced by a metal pet that attempts to honk and learn to talk like my birds... I mean, how could I give up a pet that tells ME to goto sleep every night for a robot?!

Sounds like (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538282)

It sounds as though they are basically saying that a fake dog is a poor substitute for a real dog. Not much surprise there.

There is something about the relationship between human and dog that cannot quite be replicated artificially. It is a real two-way relationship: we are accepted into our dogs' homes just as much as they are accepted into ours. It's simply not possible to feel the same way about a piece of machinery, however pretty you try to make it. Artificial intelligence to date still looks very artificial; it's not so much that smart programs are passing the Turing test, but dumb humans are failing it.

Just the other night, I was lying in bed with my pit ..... er ..... Staffordshire Bull Terrier Crossbreed lying alongside me. Her powerful, muscular jaws, packed with razor sharp teeth, were just millimetres from my face. Yet at no time did I feel any cause to be afraid. Not because she was programmed not to harm me, like some robot, but because she had chosen not to harm me. That was a great feeling, but it also made me aware of my own responsibilities to her. As she drifted off to sleep, her legs began to twitch and she gave out a few little high-pitched barks; no doubt she was dreaming her wolf-dreams, running with the pack. And with the light of dawn, she would lick me awake.

No machine is ever going to replace that.

Re:Sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14538340)

****And with the light of dawn, she would lick me awake.***

Please! I am trying to eat my breakfast!

Who's fault (1)

areve (724106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538342)

If my robot catches a virus and bites the kid next door, does it get put down or do we blame Microsoft? As soon as computers are given mobility security really does become an issue. What if someone hacks your robodog to try and kill you. "Hi my name's Chucky, wanna play?"

Misleading title (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538387)

The argument is that robot pets can generate some of the same responses as real pets, just at a much smaller degree. No one is arguing they are "Almost as Good as" real pets.

A lot of people here just don't get it (3, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538408)

This is not supposed to be a replacement for your dog/cat/baby seal (to cute!) but as a substitute for people who can't have a real one.

That "pets" fake or real are good for you is without debate. From a teddy bear to a dog they make us feel secure and give us something to care for. Yet in a way these pets are still a replacement, you don't give a toddler a real pet to take off so you give them a teddy bear instead. If you cannot or do not want to have kids a dog can be used as a replacement.

So why is it stupid to use more robotic teddy bears for older people who need something that reacts. Sure there are well established projects that bring real pets into the lives of the sick or the elderely but this is still out of reach of some people.

Allergies are the simplest reason. What if the patient simply can handle real animals. Should they live in complete isolation?

What if a patient is mentally incapable of dealing with a real pet. A patient prone to uncontrolled rage or just uncontrolled movement in general would be hell on the pets. A robot doesn't mind being flung across a room or being severly beaten.

And what of the other way around? Pets bite. Do you really want a bleeder to be around a real bet wich bites and scratches?

I also seen some experiments where mentally disabled people dealt with robots better then with humans. A robot is never moody never changes it pattern. I forgot the name but one mental handicap makes it very hard for its sufferers to deal with emotion in other people. A robot cat would always react exactly the same making interaction a lot easier for them.

I see this as a very nice tech solution to a problem with no bad side effects. No real dogs and cats won't be replaced for those who can take proper care of them. Yet for those who can't because it would be bad for the human or the pet this provides an alternative.

On the other hand, we should not see this as an excuse to deny people real pets. Why exactly do a lot of homes for the elderly deny them their pets? Oh sure I know the reasons, they just don't seem very good ones. Then again I never vote for the guy offering the biggest taxcut.

Robo Pets- Wave of the Future (2, Interesting)

gadlaw (562280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14538465)

Japan has it right with this. Their robotic technology is getting better all the time and robo pets are developing among a population which seems to be willing to accept them. If only for the mental health benefits this can only be seen as a plus. Companionship without the moral responsibility at least for those who are otherwise unable to take care of a pet any longer because of age or infirmity. People who are otherwise unable to maintain relationships for other reasons because of mental or development problems are another group this can actually benefit. There is a human need for companionship and interaction and this sort of thing seems to be a good evolution toward fulfilling that need.
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