We have reached the point in the techno-timeline where somewhat realistic robotic pets are a reality. Not like those stupid Tamagotchi keychain turds kids were obsessed with a few years back. Not Furby either.
I mean realistic looking, covered in fur, barking, purring, snuggling-in-your-lap companion robots are here, one brand of which was designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. They’re super expensive, but they are here. Just like your iPhone, they will stay expensive, but will get marginally better each year and dumb people will buy them anyway despite better alternatives being available.
I just want to go on the record as saying I am against robo-pets.
On the surface, I get it. No poop. No expensive vet bills. No stepping in cold vomit at 3 a.m. on your way to the bathroom.
However, what is the real advantage of replacing a real dog or cat with a robot?
None. The answer is none.
When people get a companion animal, that animal has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to learn that (some) humans are pretty cool and when they make friends both parties benefit from the relationship. The wolf gets fed and, in exchange, alerts the cavemen to danger. The cat eats the plague-carrying mice, the pharaoh lets it live in the pyramid and makes a huge cat god sculpture to honor it.
Let’s face it. A robot dog is not going to rescue you from a house fire or sacrifice its life attacking a dangerous intruder, buying you the precious time you need to load your gun and call 911 only to be riddled with guilt the rest of your life for losing both your beloved dog and taking a human life even though you had no choice at the time and now every time you see that spot in the kitchen you start crying, and holy shit, sorry. I have some things I am still working through with my therapist.
More importantly, the robo-pet doesn’t really love you. It’s programmed to. Even if you were deserving of love (you are not), the robot’s love is not real. It has to act that way. It doesn’t need you to survive. You need it. The relationship is artificial and one-sided just like your drunk friends from the bar. It is your robot slave. You are a hollow, lonely person who only bought a robot because real dogs are good at judging people and you know they’d just expose you for the garbage person you are.
It’s like paying a stranger to pretend to be your friend. You are unlovable and you don’t deserve happiness.
“But Dave, I don’t want a Robo-dog. Can we talk about the real techno-elephant in the room?”
Maybe next issue.
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Dave Skorepa is Chief Creative Officer at Aztek Web in Cleveland, Ohio.