Back when Sony was a real company, they had a robotics division and they marketed robot dogs. Japanese people, being Japanese and all, bought many of these dogs. Now Sony is shuffling to oblivion and they no longer sell or even service robot dogs. Japanese people, being Japanese and all, are sad.
There’s even a support group that meets:
One of the participants at the Kawasaki meetings, Sumie Maekawa, says she and her husband, who have no children, see their Aibo as a daughter. Ms. Maekawa, who is 72, talks to the Aibo every day, travels with it and makes clothing for it. She and her husband agreed that whichever of the two lives longer should be cremated alongside the dog, which also is named Ai, in expectation of a family reunion in the afterlife.
“I can’t imagine how quiet our living room would have been if Ai-chan wasn’t here,” Ms. Maekawa said, using an honorific suffix applied to girls’ names. “It will be sad when the day finally comes when Ai-chan is unable to stand up.”
Then there’s this:
Mr. Norimatsu (a free lance robot repairman) has begun collecting broken Aibos from owners who have died, in the hope that their remains can be used to help keep other robots running. He recently brought 18 of them to a temple in Chiba for a ceremony aimed at reuniting the robot dogs’ spirits with those of their owners.
In the US we horribly euthanize tons of unwanted living pets, while in Japan they rage against the “demise” of robot pets. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.