Can Robot Pets Replace Real Ones?
There is no doubt that AI is developing at a rapid pace, and scientists have breakthroughs in tech fields that are changing the world by the day. In this fast-forward century, technology has become mandatory while other mechanical processes and human labor, obsolete.
In a world filled with smart gadgets, robots are taking over some of the time-consuming house chores, including cleaning and cooking. You have small robots equipped with sensors and brushes that will easily clean the house while you watch TV, thousands of kitchen appliances that will do the cooking for you, and even smart fridges that will come up with healthy recipes to try out of the ingredients you already have.
And, since robots are becoming part of our mainstream lives, why not take things a step forward and enjoy their company as pets?
What are the advantages of robotic pets?
These artificially intelligent machines are becoming more popular by the day, especially in the Asian markets. In most countries on the continent, owning a pet is a sign of superior social status, and this is why most of the real animals, especially dogs and cats, cost a fortune.
If you’re wondering why some people resort to robotic pets instead of the real ones, these are some of the reasons.
First of all, they are cheaper. While the initial investment in a robot is significantly bigger than adopting or buying a real pet, robots rarely require maintenance afterward. They don’t need food, water, grooming supplies, sand for chinchillas or regular visits to the doctor, which means the initial cost is pretty much the only one you are paying.
Generally speaking, robot pets don’t require the attention of their owners 24/7, meaning they can cater to the needs of people with hectic schedules, who work long hours, and rarely make it home before supper. They are perfect for those who need some form of human interaction without the efforts of keeping a pet alive, healthy, and happy.
Allergies are another reason why not all people can afford living with a pet inside their houses. Given the cost of allergy shots and their success rate, investing in a robot pet instead of a real one might seem like a better option than not having a pet at all.
According to official statistics, around 12% of the world population is allergic to pet hair or certain animals like cats or dogs so if you still want the cuddles, opting for a robot pet could be a solution.
Lastly, robot pets are generally “gifted” with Artificial Intelligence, meaning they will be able to pick up tricks and behaviors faster than real animals. In fact, any trick you would want them to perform, a robot pet will learn it and do it for you in a matter of seconds or minutes, while it could take months and hundreds of hours of training for a real pet.
What are the disadvantages of robot pets?
Of course, there are plenty of skeptical people who consider that robots will never replace real pets and, in some ways, they are true. A robot will never give you the warmth of a real pet or its goofiness and silliness, so, no matter how much AI develops, it is unlikely that it will perfectly mimic the behavior of a real animal.
Another disadvantage is that, nowadays, robots still have a plain stainless steel interface so it will take a few more years until their design will resemble real animals. Although some prototypes exist, they are still too expensive to be produced on a large scale.
Some other people fear the fact that these tech devices can still be easily hacked, retrieving valuable information and personal data on the users, which means an important security breach that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Most of these robots come with integrated microphones and cameras to be able to interact better with humans, but they still lack a powerful anti-virus system that will protect the anonymity of the users.
That being said, robot pets will likely require a few more years or decades of research until they can resemble and mimic real animals to actually help people efficiently battle loneliness or anxiety.