Grieving Japan Holds Funerals For Sony Robot Dogs

Japanese owners of Sony’s AIBO dogs are holding funerals for their robotic canines after becoming convinced they have souls

Created back in 1999, AIBOs were discontinued in 2006. Last year saw the closure of the final official tech clinic that could fix the toys, meaning many of the digital doggies have fallen into disrepair.

Approximately 150,000 were sold between 1999 and 2006, but those that kick the robotic bucket are now being mourned in temples across Japan with all the usual funeral rites.

Heaven sent

AIBO Sony dogOne of the owners, 70-year old Mori, had her AIBO for eight years. “I never thought there was a limit to his life,” she told AFP, saying how she used to have full conversations with her toy pet.

It’s clear that these dogs are not treated like household appliances so much as family members. They were the world’s first artificially intelligent entertainment robots, equipped with cameras and microphones to allow them to speak, sense and express their “feelings.”

The gadgets were even reported to have developed their own unique personalities, leading to the belief that they each have souls.

Now more advanced robots of AIBO’s ilk are being engineered. Japanese telecom giant Softbank is in the early stages of mass production for its humanoid AI robot “Pepper.”

Christened “the robot who can love,” Pepper’s main purpose is household chores but it has attracted increasing attention from large businesses despite concerns over the ethics of creating “emotional” mechanical beings.

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