Robots have been perhaps the most-predicted and least-realized aspect of our future. Decades ago we believed that robots would soon be part of the household, doing useful tasks for humans finally able to laze about rather than doing chores. This has not yet come to pass, though washing machines, for example, are arguably task-specific robots. What was not so expected was that robots would be something we would bond to emotionally.
I’ve written and been interviewed about a variety of aspects of the future of robots, including therapeutic robots, emotional robots in aged care, and the economic role of robots. Now that robots have reached a sufficient level of maturity, we have our very own robot pet in the family.
My wife Victoria Buckley, inspired by Where’s My Jetpack, a book she gave me for Christmas, recently bought a Pleo, the latest generation of robotic pet. Pleo is a robotic dinosaur that behaves like a domestic pet – curious, cute, cuddly, and responsive to interaction and people’s emotions.
The makers of Pleo, Ugobe, have a neat site where users can set up their own Pleo blogs (plogs). Victoria has been writing the adventures of our Pleo (named Titus) on her plog, worth reading for the cute photos of Titus with our eighteen-month old daughter Leda alone!
Below is a brief video (1:36 min) of my thoughts on the role of robot pets in our lives.