We all know the saying, “A dog is a man’s best friend”, but what if that wasn’t the case for our future world? Could you imagine coming home to the sound of a digitally recorded bark instead of a wagging furry tail?
Many scientists believe that a world without domesticated pets could be a very real possibility in the near future. The near future meaning 10 to 15 years from now. In an online article published by RT it states, “The reasons for the possible shift from real pets to robotic versions are likely to be caused by the increasing urbanization of the planet”. In an article by The Huffington Post, Dr. Jean-Loup Rault, and animal welfare researcher from the University of Melbourne in Australia, is quoted by saying, “It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could totally be 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”.
Human attachment to robots is not something that isn’t possible. For example, people in Japan are convinced that their robot dogs have souls. In many instances the Japanese people who own robotic pets do not see their pets as robots or home appliances, but instead they see them as real family members. Some robotic pet owners even go as far as to hold funerals for their “pets” when their circuits die. In medical cases, it has been proven that robotic animals can improve the emotional states of patients. For example, a robotic baby seal named PARO has been developed to create positive responses in the individuals who come in contact with it. PARO has been classed as a real medical tool in many countries, including the United States. The reason for using a baby harp seal? No association to the general expectation of domesticated animals like dogs or cats.
I know that as a child I have had robotic pets. I mean, what little girl didn’t ask for a Fur Real Friend cat or kitten for Christmas? Although those toys were fun, thats all that they are, just toys. I personally don’t think that robotic pets will take the place of our real pets that we love and cherish each day. There are so many people in this world who love their dogs or cats or other pets like they are their own children, and in some cases they are their children. You cannot simply replace the love of a real pet with the cold metal of a robotic pet that performs tricks by the click of a button. Could you really pass up moments of real pet ownership like teaching your new puppy to howl? I don’t think so.