There has been much research exploring the strong and very real emotional bond between humans and domesticated canines. Dogs are known, after all, as "man's best friend." No one's saying that about cats.
So we find it extremely unlikely that looking into the eyes of a robot dog will yield the same heartwarming vibe as looking into the eyes of a beloved pet that sometimes secretly pranks you by affectionately licking your face after drinking toilet water.
But there may be none of that in the cold, metal world of the future, if Australian animal welfare researcher Dr. Jean-Loup Rault is to be believed.
From The Telegraph:
"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. ...
"In Japan, people are becoming so attached to their robot dogs that they hold funerals for them when the circuits die."
Isn't that sort of like holding a funeral for your computer or smartphone when it dies? Not that there's anything wrong with it.
The value proposition for robot dogs is compelling -- they don't poop, they don't shed, they don't attract fleas or ticks, and you don't have to worry about them if you go on vacation or even stay somewhere overnight.
But robot dogs will never lick your face after drinking toilet water, and that alone is irreplaceable.
(Related article: If dogs could talk, here's what we'd ask them)
This story, "Robot dogs can never replace real dogs" was originally published by Fritterati.