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Robot Family in Every Home? 202

cswilly writes: "Yahoo has a story that Sony wants to see a robot animal in every home. I was wondering if Sony has a total cost of ownership argument for these things? Let's see, $2500 for a robot dog + $100 in electricity oven ten years. A real dog costs, say $1/day to feed, lives ten years for $3650 on food, plus $1000 in vet bills. The robot wins hands down." But keeping it in Mom's Robot Oil isn't cheap either...
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Robot Family in Every Home?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 09, 2001 @09:23AM (#2270513)
    Robot family?

    Most families are already like robot families. White, protestant, republican-voting, heterosexual people with 2.5 kids, SUV and a house in suburbia who also go to church every Sunday - not because they believe but because it's expected.

    • Where are my mod points when I need them???
    • Why does that make them "robot families"? Moreever, what is wrong with being whire, protestant, republican-voting, and heterosexual? Is there something intrinsicly wrong about not being gay all of a sudden? Secondly, why are you saying that most families vote republican? With or without the capital R, to make it party specific, the recent election clearly shows that there is almost a perfect slpit - indecision amongst the masses - about how to vote. 2,5 kids, sure that's called a statistic.

      I do, however, agree with your point about Sunday mass. Far too many people don't know their faith, even if they profess to follow it. Regardless, with that point being your saving grace, I still disagree with everything else you said.

      Now, if you would not have made such a blanket statement, I would agree a tad more.

    • Re:Robot family (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bones3D_mac ( 324952 )
      I'm really surprised at all the slashdotter's who are getting their panties in a bunch over this! Seriously guys, I highly doubt he intended this to be a "hate" statement of any kind. He's simply making a point of conformity vs. individualism.

      If anything, the only real crime here is posting a statement like this after the 1960's. ;-)
    • Most families are average.

      Thank you, Captain Obvious.

  • I'd want that, too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcwren ( 166164 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @09:24AM (#2270516) Homepage
    If I sold flower pots, I'd want one in every home. Preferrably 10. That's a stupid statement on Sony's part, really. Anyone who sells anything wants lots of them everywhere. It's called "selling product to make money". Sheeh.

    • That reminds me of a joke, I recently heard:

      A very small advertisement in the New York Times reads:
      If everybody in NYC drank French Apple Wine, we could afford much bigger ads.
    • The problem is the abio is way too damned fragile.
      have someone step on it.. There's a $2000.00 pile of plastic and parts... yippie.... Step on a real dog, you just get about 6-10 holes in your ankle from the bites.. well a wiener dog might just go squish, but I bet it will either wiggle out or at least yelp loudly before you actually get to the squish part. (oh gawd I'm a sick person!) A child is rough with a real pet and an abio interacting with a child will also result in the above-mentioned parts pile. Now, make it stronger and more powerful to handle being tackled by a over-enegetic ADHD 12 year old boy? now we have severed fingers, broken arms, concussions... as an AI cannot determine in a millisecond that the tackling is just playing and not an attack. (the current abio can determine this by flying into a large number of plastic pieces upon impact.) or if it is set not to react to attacks, just movement when a finger is in a joint will cause the above. bio-dog? no sharp edges other than teeth.

      Sorry sony... you cant replace a living pet. you'll never make something that is mostly harmless (tm) and highly durable as a dog.

      Now some of you might whine that dogs attack children and people... only when they are poorly trained and taken care of. 9 times out of 10 the dog is horribly treated by it's owners and has had no formal training or family bonding... (A dog is to live with your family, in your home, and sleep next to the masters bed... not outside on a chain. It has to be tought it is a part of the family pack and that it is expected to protect the children instead of "that damned dog out in the back yard" that barks, and get's no attention. and everyone is horrified when it mauls a cat or get's loose and kills a child..

      If you cant make the dog a part of the family as a child would be then dont get a dog. It has to live in your home (yes even a great dane) and live with the family obeying the family rules. if you cannot or will not do this then never ever own a dog. People that get a dog and don't do what is needed are the cause of every problem people have with dogs... barking dog in your neighborhood? the moron owner is the fault.

  • come and find all things to connected with sex: my sister, brother and my cute robot dog at www.robotdogfamilysex4u.com


  • by psych031337 ( 449156 ) <psych0 AT wtnet DOT de> on Sunday September 09, 2001 @09:26AM (#2270522)
    A sufficiently sized and well-trained dog is able come up with it's own food if you live in a neighborhood sporting enough cats.

    OTOH, the Sony petdogs probably have a setting to disable barking at night.

    • by imipak ( 254310 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @10:30AM (#2270611) Journal
      I have an old Onion InfoGraphic on my wall here - I had to have it there, for when my Aibo-owning sucker^w^w techno-obsessive friend comes round - "Why is Aibo so goddam popular?" I'd link but there's no URL on it and I can't find it at t'Onion...
      • Keeps all those goddam robot cats out of the yard
      • Crude, mechanical simulations of love and affection prepare children for the adult world
      • Marks territory with streams of caustic battery acid
      • Hoping to teach it to say "Rastro"
      • Doesn't vomit batteries back up like real dog
      • No need to drown it in brick-filled sack to shut it up
      • Hoping to train it to tuck in baby from airport videophone
      • Kids kept nagging for a cold, metallic object to hug
      • Won't bite the faces off children unless specifically programmed to
    • Other things a rog (robot dog) cannot do -- jump on you with a lot of enthusiasm (I mean REAL enthusiasm) when you come home from work.. get you up when you are feeling down... sit next to the fireplace looking totally forlorn (trust me, that really makes you think your dog has more problems than you do)... the list is endless. I'd rather have a real dog than a bot...

      Oh .. sorry.. forgot all you g33ks dont GO to work.. 41s0 7#1s 1s 4 S#17 m37#0d 0f c0mmun1c4t10n .. SO USE PLAIN ol' ENGLISH!

    • Sony petdogs probably have a setting to disable barking at night.

      but can you disable its reporting back to Sony on the pirated music you listened to all day?

  • Something to this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YIAAL ( 129110 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @09:26AM (#2270523) Homepage
    I got two kittens a couple of weeks ago. I'm already out $500 in vet bills, food, cat toys, litter, etc., etc., etc.

    I think my vet gets more per hour than my internist. And no insurance hassles.

    Of course, he'll probably pick up robot repair as a sideline if this actually comes off.
  • China (Score:2, Informative)

    by foobrain ( 411652 )
    Sony is talking to sell this dog to everyone in China, not US.
    • Re:China (Score:3, Funny)

      by manon ( 112081 )
      So they will start eating robot dogs instead of real ones? ;)
    • Sony is talking to sell this dog to everyone in China, not US.

      I suppose a robotic dog could also be a recording device... Taking this a step further, the "pets" sold in China could have a special party-loyalty module (or firmware) to help keep track of their subjects.

      Nobody likes big brother using cold and obtrusive monitoring gear, but a friendly robotic "pal" could be an easy sell.
  • RealDoll (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I would like to see the same calculation for a real human versus a RealDoll:


    Think of how much you would save! We need RealDolls in every home!
  • by Nastard ( 124180 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @09:38AM (#2270537)
    Some kind person left a pamphlet on my car, indicating that the world was going to end soon, and that I should beware the mark of the beast. As fate would have it, there is a pretty clear section of this highly informative and exceptionally soul-cleansing literature about robotic animals and their place in God's kingdom. As it turns out, this is clearly mentioned in an obscure and out-of-context verse of the bible. Beware, my friends, the end is near.

    Man, what I wouldn't give to know who that kind person was, so that I might track them down and give them a good thanking.
  • by Mentifex ( 187202 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @09:39AM (#2270538) Homepage Journal

    Free artificial Minds for robots are now available from http://mind.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] in both MSIE JavaScript (for learning about AI) and in Win32Forth (for implementation in robots). Some tweaking or porting to new languages may be required. Ports have already been launched for Visual Basic and Java.

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/mind/ [sourceforge.net] is just one of well over three hundred (300) Open Source AI projects on SourceForge, and the AI "Mind" project is unusual in that it is based on awell-developed and highly original linguistic Theory of Mind (see SourceForge/ Mind/ Docs/ Theory of Mind) drawing upon Chomskyan linguistics and the neuronal feature-extraction for which Hubel and Wiesel won their Nobel prize.

    Onwards to http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix/vinge/vinge-s ing.html [caltech.edu] -- Technological Singularity!

    • AI software that actually works is available free at http://alicebot.org [alicebot.org].

      You'll find little of the new age nonsense about the "singularity" there, too -- just a straightforward, minimalist approach to handling conversation that won the Loebner Prize last year.

      Kino Coursey, one of the participants in the Alicebot/AIML project (see http://alicebot.org/bios/kinocoursey.html [alicebot.org] has already started porting Alice to the AIBO.

      • Now hold on there with "AI software that actually works," as if to imply that http://mind.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] does NOT work.

        The AI Mind at http://sourceforge.net/projects/mind/ [sourceforge.net] is a vastly more sophisticated neuronal-mind-workalike than the admittedly most impressive Alicebot, and the SourceForge "Mind" performs many of its quasi-neuronal functions very well, e.g.: storage of input in quasi-auditory memory; re-entry of the output of the Mind back into the Mind; associative cross-tagging of concepts, lexicon and auditory engrams; simple Tutorial; troubleshooting with print-out option; etc.

        What the AI Mind at SourceForge does not yet do well is keep track of its concepts, because for two years now (since mid-1999) there has been an algorithmic deficiency in the SPREADACT module for the implementation of the theoretically very important process of spreading activation . That problem or final obstacle to True GOFAI is now being cleared up as we switch from harvesting all active concepts simultaneously in sentence-generation, to an interactive generation by syntax interacting word-by-word between the English lexicon and the underlying Psi concepts at the core of the Mind.

        Anyone intensely curious about the very latest Mentifex work may visit http://www.scn.org/~mentifex/mindwork.html [scn.org] to see the AI Mind work-in-progress that has not yet been released because it is not yet stable or otherwise ready. (I hate to do potentially important work and not make it somehow available in the event of, say, my getting run over by a truck.)

        Both Alicebot (congratulations!) and the Mentifex AI Mind may claim some recognition for being included in the 5 September 2001 release of the official Artificial Intelligence FAQ at http://www.faqs.org/faqs/ai-faq/general/part6/sect ion-5.html [faqs.org] under the "Chatbots" heading. I wish the Alicebot team all the success in the world, because we are working towards the same goal. -- Arthur T. Murray.

        • You're right -- that was a bit of a flippant remark on my part; sorry.

          I guess I should confess a certain zeal for the minimalist approach of Alicebot, which is all about dumping conventional NLP and AI techniques out the window, and going whole-hog instead for a really hardcore stimulus-response model. The typical reaction people have to this approach is to say "Isn't that just like Eliza?", to which the answer is "Yes, but several orders of magnitude smarter"...followed by a long explanation (there's a lot on the site [alicebot.org]).

          I didn't invent this, Richard Wallace [alicebot.org] did. But I have to admit a certain enthusiasm for the approach, which sometimes leads me to be a little over-energetic in making claims about it.

          I guess for me the point about "really works" is framed by the Turing Test -- and that is certainly a presumption that ought to be stated up front. Alice won last year's Loebner Prize, which although not an exact implementation of Turing's original experiment is the closest thing the world has right now. In that contest, the main goal is to imitate a human (in Turing's proposal, the goal was a little more constrained and had a scientific control attached). Anything that does reasonably well on that score can be said to "work", from one point of view: a more empirical one. Of course, from other points of view (and there sure are many!), anything that doesn't incorporate structures/concepts/rules that are generally conceived of as being more closely analogous to brain functionality (neural networks for instance) is off the mark.

          So Alicebot has absolutely no neural network, no notion of a lexicon, etc. AIML is about as simple as you can get. This confuses people sometimes -- as though Wallace & others working on this somehow "overlooked" the need for a "learning" mechanism or a syntactic parser or a link with an "ontology of common sense" or what-have-you. In point of fact, Alicebot is just actively rejecting most other approaches, based not only on the disappointing results that they've generally produced, but also just on the premise that it might be (and has proved to be) interesting to pursue this particular, minimal, pattern-matching-based approach. Clearly no approach has "won" hands-down, but Alicebot has certainly proved a lot with a lot less financial backing than some projects (like Cyc). Time will tell...and framing the question better will help (which is what I failed to do in my response -- sorry, one more time ;-) ).


  • (this is where it was described first, long time ago).
    • no it wasn't. The idea of robot pets is as old as the term robot itself, which was coined long before PKD was even born.
    • The word seems older than that. It comes from the czech for slave and has roots to Indo-European words connected to orphan and work.

      robot noun
      A mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance. A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control. A person who works mechanically without original thought, especially one who responds automatically to the commands of others.

      [Czech, from robota, drudgery. See orbh- in Indo-European Roots.]

      robotic adjective
      Word History: Robot is a word that is both a coinage by an individual person and a borrowing. It has been in English since 1923 when the Czech writer Karel apek's play R.U.R. was translated into English and presented in London and New York. R.U.R., published in 1921, is an abbreviation of Rossum's Universal Robots; robot itself comes from Czech robota, "servitude, forced labor," from rab, "slave." The Slavic root behind robota is orb-, from the Indo-European root *orbh-, referring to separation from one's group or passing out of one sphere of ownership into another. This seems to be the sense that binds together its somewhat diverse group of derivatives, which includes Greek orphanos, "orphan," Latin orbus, "orphaned," and German Erbe, "inheritance," in addition to the Slavic word for slave mentioned above. Czech robota is also similar to another German derivative of this root, namely Arbeit, "work" (its Middle High German form arabeit is even more like the Czech word). Arbeit may be descended from a word that meant "slave labor," and later generalized to just "labor."

    • I've always wanted a steel wool sweater.
  • if i wanted a robot one, i'd just make applet and give it an AI... why bother buying one?

    the robot dog is just a "toy", while a real one has life, has feelings, and it's not your "toy", its your "pet". Sometimes it's really hard to treat robots as if they're real things, no matter how smart the AI is... they'd look cool though, but it's just not the real thing
    • Although in some parts of the USA you can't even call them "pets" anymore... they are now "companion animals". For me, I don't see why I'd want a smart, lovable robot in my house. Keep it stupid and make it work. That's what machines are for. So unless RoboRover can mow or vacuum or sort laundry I don't see the point. Can it even solve Rubik's cube?
  • ..which is significantly less than the $2500 put forth in the article. Even the second generation ones were down to $1500, if this price halving keeps up, in about 5 or 6 years, Aibos should be under $30....
  • Someone please tell me why they'd be prepared to shell out thousands of dollars for something which is essentially crude mechanical device governed by a RNG and a state machine?

    I've seen the AIBO being demonstrated and it's surprising how stupid it is and how tiresome it quickly becomes. It is certainly no replacement for a real dog and clearly won't be for a long, long time if ever.

    Even assuming it ever does reach that point, are people really willing to spend more for fake dog than they would for a real one? Who would be so emotionally bankrupt?

    • by rknop ( 240417 )

      Who would be so emotionally bankrupt?

      Sony would.

      Remember, it's big corps like that that bring us DRM, CRPM, DMCA, soon the SSSCA, and other things which are morally bankrupt (indeed often downright evil). Why on earth wouldn't you expect them to be emotionally bankrupt?

      People often form a bond with their pets. This bond can be highly individual and have great emotional depth. Therefore, it is bad for the economy. Thinking, independent individuals are hard for marketing departments to profile. What we need are consumers. Robot dogs can be targeted at consumers, just like prepackaged megacorp entertainment "content". If you are thinking for yourself, you're hurting the economy, and harming the business of the megacorps, so stop it right now.

      Only commies, intellectual property pirates (like library patrons), and dangerous anti-american open source software users would want a real pet when one could have a Market Approved robot pet!! (Warning: reverse engineering or modifying your Robot Pet is a violation of the DMCA, and an un-American thing to do. Rest assured that you will be protected from the dangers of such violaters as they spend 5 years in prison and pay $250,000 in fines.)


      • ... would want a real pet when one could have a Market Approved robot pet!!

        :) You're going to have to sell that line to companies like Purina or Petco. Not to mention the meat-packing industry, which makes tons of money selling their animal biproducts for pet food. One hopes that they agree with Sony's assessment of this matter.

        On the other hand, maybe the pet food companies could go into the software biz...

      • Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
        Am I right?
      • the only problem is that when you start thinking for yourself, the corporation's police come for you in the middle of the night in their black helicopters.

        there is no conspiracy. it's a toy, for god's sakes.
    • here's some reasons why in japan.

      • many apartments do not allow dogs as pets
      • even if you could keep dogs many apartments are too small to make this practical
      • even if your apartment let you keep dogs and it was large enough you'd often be in an urban area with no room to exercise them.

      so you get places that rent dogs by the hour so you can walk them to a local patch of greenery. apparently these are quite popular. i mentioned the aibo to japanese acquaintences recently, as in 'what's all this about,' rather than thinking it weird they just seemed to think that it was a good idea and another cool appliance from sony (as are all the small viao lappies, also designed for people with small desks in small apartments).

  • Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jim42688 ( 445645 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @10:00AM (#2270569)
    Interesting article here [infosync.no] on sony's attempts to standardize robot architecture. At least they're playing nice with whatever competitors they have.
    • You can bet Microsoft won't play nice.

      I probably won't be able to use my XBox controllers with an Aibo, nor vice versa.
  • Thats right folks. Think about it. With enough robot dogs and some typical /. tinkering, we're talking about nightly Battle Bots right in your own living room.

  • They just announced a cheaper $800 model that looks a little more "Hello Kitty" than the previous ones, just fyi. Probably to compete with Tiger's i-Cybie that'll be $200. Duane
  • by neema ( 170845 )
    Last night took my girlfriend out to dinner and a movie. Dinner cost 72 dollars and the movie was about 23. This is just a fraction of the expenses I always pay on this girl.

    Robot Girlfriend, however, will sit at home until I return from where ever I was having fun...

    and the bitch will like it!

    Long live Robot Girlfriend!
    • Funny enough, I just saw a buffy show about -just that- yesterday night...gave me such a craving to see Cherry 2000 again!

      BTW, will somebody please explain why the hell we are still paying for girls? I though that the feminist movement would have them realise that this is clearly a softcore form of protitution by now.
      • by Pope ( 17780 )
        That was a great episode. Did you happen to see the one later in the season when Spike gets the guy to make a robot Buffy? Hilarious, and a little disturbing.

        "You're Anya. How is the money doing?"

    • Didn't you see "The 6th day"?

      I very much liked the virtual girlfriend in that movie.

      (too bad she was female, but that's what the guy choose to purchase.)
  • by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @10:22AM (#2270594) Homepage
    Haven't they already got a protptype working in this home? [whitehouse.gov]
  • Life Expectancy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by th3walrus ( 191223 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @10:24AM (#2270604)
    I wonder what the average life expectancy of one of these is. Cats can live as long as 20 years in some cases. I'd bet this thing would wear out in about 5 if it was kept operational all day long, as a real animal is.
    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Sunday September 09, 2001 @10:51AM (#2270650) Homepage Journal
      Have you ever had a real dog (or cat?) They certainly aren't "operational" all day long unless the Aibo has a "sleep and ignore my master" mode. :)

      This is doubly true for cats. In fact the AI for a robotic cat should be pretty easy to write:
      while true
    • The rechargeable battery in my laptop used to last about 2.5 hours. A year later, I get about 45 minutes out of it. Every laptop I have owned has been this way... batteries just crap out eventually. Laptop batteries are expensive too... I wonder how much Aibo's batteries will cost?
  • But keeping it in Mom's Robot Oil isn't cheap either...

    Yeah, but remember that anchovies are not extinct... yet!

  • having flashbacks to "....windows on every desktop"
  • Bill Gates said the same thing about wanting a computer on every desk or something, like 10 years ago. Someone already mentioned that it's basically called "wanting to sell things" - or BUSINESS. WHy is this news?

    Or is it because it's a robot dog? Does that make it tech news worthy? If I made hi tech stuff and said "I want a flying car in every garage of every home......yeah, I am a true visionary". What BS. Who give sa rat's ass.

    Armitage Shanks would probably go on record saying that they "want a toilet bowl in every home, one day". Now that is true progress.

  • Real dogs tend to scare away robbers, I don't think robot dogs have been found to do that. At least not yet.

    There is in fact a good chance that a robot dog attacking a robber might be legally declared a trap, and that could be very bad for the owner, and maybe the maker. A real dog attacking a robber on the other hand tends to get declared as some sort of hero dog (of corse dogs attacking UPS delivery people get put down, which is sad).

    Besides real dogs make good pool toys, fake ones die in the water :-)

  • Imagine if the things were spyware. Put one in every home, give them wireless networking and GPS, and you've have the perfect setup to be watched 24x7. Now THERE'S the stuff of sci-fi stories.
    • I have an AIBO 210, and not only does it have a built in digital camera but it also supports 802.11b wireless networking via an optional PCMCIA card.

      Some folks have already written software that allows the AIBO send images in real time of what is "sees" to a PC or Mac.

      The new AIBOs (ERS 310 series) have guardog software available (no custom programming required) that lets them watch a certain place or item, taking photos of who ever or what ever moves in its field of vision.

      No word on GPS yet, but these things only have about a two hour battery run time, and they don't move that fast; I don't think they can wander that far afield for GPS to be useful.

      Some useful links :

      AIBO Hackers - lots of free software [aibohack.com]

      Sony Europe AIBO web site [aibo.com]
  • I think Sony would like to see a high priced Sony product in every home.
  • Homer: "What are you going to do. Release the dogs or the bees or the dogs with bees in their mouth so when they bark they shoot bees at you!!"
  • don't most homes *already* have a robot family?


  • How can you reduce the arguments of which pet is most worth to which one has the lowest maintenace cost.

    You think a robot is going to replace mans best friend ?
  • Robot dogs are completely ineffective against door-to-door salesmen, evangelists, and kids selling candy bars. In fact, a robot dog is probably going to make you look like you've got enough extra cash to support whatever brilliant crusade they're on.

    But real dogs are great in this situation. I've got two, a good sized chocolate lab who can stand on his hind legs and look you dead in the eye, and a mixed breed who looks like the bastard offspring of a coyote and a dingo. Neither is too fond of unknown visitors, so I typically take them with me to the door and hold their collars while they're straining and lunging at the salesperson/Jehovah's Witness/whatever. It's amazing how brief their pitches become...

    Also... You can't really blame flatulence on a robot dog. ;)

  • by onesandzeros ( 445024 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @12:18PM (#2270808)
    There are countless dogs and other perfectly good pets waiting to be 'put to sleep' in Humane Societies all over the country and around the world. Go get the real thing. The Sony bot is just going to wind up turned off in a corner and eventually in a landfill.
    • Please mod the above post up. This is the #1 reason not to get a robot pet.

      Truthfully, most (if not all) Humane Society shelters have adopted a "no kill [bestfriends.com]" policy. It's the other shetlers that kill animals because no one will adopt them.

      Every day, thousands of cats and dogs around the country are killed because of overpopulation. There are organizations like Alley Cat Allies [alleycat.org] which set up Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs in areas around the country to humane control a cat population, but it's not enough.

      A $2,500 donation to your local shelter will literally save the lives of dozens of animals. People who spend that money instead on some stupid toy robot disgust me.

  • Two errors (Score:4, Informative)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @12:30PM (#2270834)
    $2500 for a robot dog + $100 in electricity oven ten years. A real dog costs, say $1/day to feed, lives ten years for $3650 on food, plus $1000 in vet bills. The robot wins hands down."

    Firstly, a dog does not cost $1/day to feed. A medium sized dog would probably cost 25-50 cents at most to feed if you were feeding it dry food.

    More importantly, however, since the majority of the costs you attribute to the real dog occur in the future (some of it in the far future) you have to discount those dollars spent in the future to today. For those of you who flunked economics, this means that the value of $100 in 1 year is less than the value of $100 today, the value of $100 2 years from now is less than the value of $100 in 1 year, etc and the decline of value of moneys to be paid/received in the future is exponential. I don't have a calculator handy but you will find that the cost of ownership of a real dog (assuming the already unrealistic cost structure as explained above) is far less than the $4650 you came up with.

    Whereas with the Sony dog, almost all the costs of the dog are up front so the present value/cost of the Sony dog is very close to its $2500 sticker price.
  • ...but... like someone else said, their newer model is $850, not $2500 -- *and* has all the features of the more advanced Aibo II, The newer model is cheaper, but not less functional.

    Sure, this is all fun and games, but the reality is that they've managed to bring the price down from $2500 to $850 in a year. Who isn't to say there'll be more features and a bigger price drop in the years to come? Heck, a few trips to the vet can easily cost $850..

    While I would never replace my dog for a robotic one just yet, I'll probably eat my words in 10 years... The Aibo's in 10 years will probably have hair, be furry, cuddly, and come in various sizes... making it hard to tell if it's real or a robot...

    Anyone who has lost a pet would know... When the pet dies, it's gone, but the pain isn't. Now, consider this -- what if you could get a pet that would live forever? That's tempting...
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @12:43PM (#2270864) Homepage
    For robot researchers, it's great that Sony is making low-priced mobile robots. But as toys, they're not that interesting.

    If they could get up to the marginally useful level, like picking up junk on the floor, customers might leave them on all the time.
    They should at least be able to find their recharging station.

  • Big Brother (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @12:44PM (#2270865) Homepage
    The robot dog will be the equivalent of 1984 telescreens for Big Brother.

    Sony would be the perfect company to do this since they are a major consumer electronics manufacturer, but also have an interest in protecting their copyrights on both audio and video recordings. None of the other major intellectual property giants have the capability to get a dog installed into every home.

    IANAL, but now that the idea has been mentioned in public, is it too late to patent?
    • ``Our vision is a robot for every member of the family,'' said Stuart Wallock, director of marketing and business planning for Entertainment Robot America, a unit of Sony Electronics Inc., of Los Angeles.

  • Microsoft must get their mits into anything that is destined to become ubiqutious. This will probably wake the sleeping giant. Just as most every other innovation has.

    If you have mixed breeds in one house will they fight? <whistle> Here, xbox, here boy! <whistle> <whistle> Here PSX. Now get along and don't fight.

    Very few animals were harmed in the making of this post.
  • by mickeyreznor ( 320351 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @01:17PM (#2270945) Homepage Journal
    real dogs are cute and warm. robot dogs are cold and look robotic. The basic thing is I *can't* love a robot dog the same way I love my dog at home. Yeah, real dogs maybe harder to train, they might need to be housebroken, but so are human babies. We all complain how hard it is to raise kids, but do we even think about replacing them with robotic counterparts? I guess a robotic dog could work as a viable "man's best friend" for someone. But, real dogs all the way for me.
  • In a related announcement, God(Tm) announced that he would sue Sony under the DMCA for reverse engineering the BBCE(Bark Bark Crap Eat) protocol.
    As we all know, the DMCA, which was introduced to save the software industry and the american way of doing things from communists, geeks and other such forms of life.
    God refused to comment on the case of Dimitry Slyrakov because Adobe(Tm) are in negotiations with God to make it impossible to copy/pirate e-books.
  • Why would anyone want one of these?
    Lets see.
    A real dog will shed all over your furniture to improve its insulation every 2 to 3 months and poop on your carpet to make the prints look better. A robot dog obviously cannot.
    A real dog will like your face after you've had a big burger so you'll avoid the embarassment of having food on your face. A robot can only dream of complex tasks like that.
    A real dog will bark all night before your semester exam. You never liked that damn subject anyway. Can you beat that?

  • You must have never owned a dog. They incur way more vet bills than 1000 dollars. Shots checkups, neutering and god forbid something to go wrong. One of my dogs has already had 2500 dollars worth of doggy dental care.
  • Actually, the average dog costs its owner $13,500 over the life of the animal... way too much for me to pay.
  • Hey,

    Let's see, $2500 for a robot dog + $100 in electricity oven ten years. A real dog costs, say $1/day to feed, lives ten years for $3650 on food, plus $1000 in vet bills. The robot wins hands down."

    Let's see, $100 for am inflatable woman + $100 in batteries over 10 years. A real woman costs $45+ to take out for a meal, lives with you ten years for $3,000 in shoes, plus a $1000 engagement ring. The inflatable woman wins hands down.

    Except she isn't alive.

  • The robot dog probably doesn't fetch worth a damn, and I doubt that it does a good job licking your face when you get home from work.
  • Of course, MS will want in on it, too. MSDog(tm) Will have had some "Accesibility Options" added to it and create a seeing-eye dog.

    I can see the headlines now. "Blind Man Hit By Bus When Robot Companion 'crashed' While Crossing Street."

    In addition, in the spirit of smart tags, MSDog will lead its humble owners into microsoft-funded businesses.
  • Buy an Sony Aibo then recoup your money by letting businesses pay you to bring your Aibo over as a customer draw. "``I've been to Hawaii and sat in a hotel lobby and not spent a dime on entertainment, just had a ball when people stopped to talk to me and watch the two dogs playing on the carpet. They're people magnets.''" -- Yahoo News [yahoo.com]
  • These have got to be part of some big Evil Plan. It IS Sony, after all. The robot dog MUST do one of either two things on a specified date:

    1) Ram something worse than the DMCA down your throat.

    2) Bomb Perl Harbor.

    Sorry, I won't take those odds!

    As a side note, if you try to throw one of those fuckers out, you'll probably have a run in with the Robot arm of the PETA.

  • I think that Sony really misses the point of a pet. Humans like affection and loyalty from an independant entity. A robot will never be independant - it's loyalty is as immaterial as that of your shirt, and its affection is, at best, pre-programmed.

    Now, if they could program it to do my laundry, that would be something else...
  • by seanmeister ( 156224 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @07:55AM (#2272711)
    Robot cats are the way to go here... they're much cheaper to make, since they only need to be programmed to sit there and ignore you...

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.