In about ten years, real pets are going to be replaced by robotic dogs, according to University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Dr Jean-Loup Rault. Due to people’s fascination with technology and gadgets, robopets and virtual pets will soon become a luxury.
Robotic dogs are real
“It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation. It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think,” Dr Rault said.
“Pet robotics has come a long way from the Tamagotchi craze of the mid-90s. In Japan, people are becoming so attached to their robot dogs that they hold funerals for them when the circuits die,” he said.
Seeing the possibility that robopets will become a normality in the near future, Rault now argues that more information about robotic pets be made available to the public.
“You won’t find a lot of research on pet robotics out there, but if you Google robot dogs, there are countless patents. Everyone wants to get ahead of this thing because there is a market and it will take off in the next 10 to 15 years,” Rault wrote in his research published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.
Robotic dogs will soon come equip with artificial intelligence
Rault would also like to know the ethical issues that come with having a robotic pet.
“Robots can, without a doubt, trigger human emotions. If artificial pets can produce the same benefits we get from live pets, does that mean that our emotional bond with animals is really just an image that we project on to our pets?” he asked.
He said that having a robotic dog that does not depend on food, water and a true emotional bond with its human to live, people may change the way they treat their real pets. He also said that it will not be long before these robotic pets will come equipped with artificial intelligence.
“When engineers work on robotic dogs, they work on social intelligence, they address what people need from their dogs: companionship, love, obedience, dependence. They want to know everything about animal behaviour so they can replicate it as close as possible to a real pet.”
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