Robotic pets will replace their living counterparts in less than a decade as technology infatuation is growing and more people are crossing over to a high-density urban lifestyle, scientists say.
“It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” said Dr. Jean-Loup Rault of the University of Melbourne in his paper published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science on Monday.
Flesh and blood pets will become a luxury commodity in an overpopulated future world with creatures created with chips and circuits mimicking the real things, the animal welfare researcher said.
“It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think,” he added.
In Japan people are becoming so attached to their robotic dogs that they hold funerals for them when they stop functioning, he noted.
Future robot pets may even feature bona fide Artificial Intelligence, which will permit them to learn, to think, and respond independently.
“When engineers work on robotic dogs, they work on social intelligence, they address what people need from their dogs: companionship, love, obedience, dependence,” he said.
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