Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 23, 2005
Toshiba just unveiled its new robot, ApriAttenda, which can talk with its owners as well as follow the owners around by recognizing their voice and/or appearance in a crowd of people. The robot, as per Toshiba, brings us closer to the times when machines (and ApriAttenda looks super cute!) will function as our “life support partners”, by caring for the elderly and babysitting the children.
As more such machines come out, I wonder if they could, potentially, take place of our human companions of today: dogs, cats and other humans.
Consider: You don't need to take a robot for a walk in the park, or pick up his poop. You don't need to worry about leaving your robot alone when you go on a trip.
And a robot can't just drop you because his social network has gotten too large, and he can no longer keep in touch with all of his friends.
Seriously, so many people already are socializing through machines nowadays that I won't be surprised if some of them shut out the real world completely when robotic life support partners become available (and good enough). Lots of people spend hours writing their blogs and interacting with people in their online social networks -- people they'd never met and will never meet.
Robots could, potentially, displace even more real-world interaction. After all, unlike real people, cats and dogs, they will always be agreable, and they will never scratch or bite you.