'Electric Sheep' Gaining On Real Pets

In his excellent 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick writes about a world with virtually no real, living animals. Robotic animals are 'kept' by their owners, and given the same feelings and affection associated with real animals:

He ascended … to the covered pasture whereon his electric sheep "grazed." Whereon it, sophisticated piece of hardware that it was, chomped away in simulated contentment, bamboozling the other tenants of the building.
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's electric sheep)

It turns out that several studies show that robotic pets really do invoke the same feelings and reactions as real pets. In a recent study at the University of Missouri, levels of cortisol dropped among adults who petted AIBO, Sony's dog-shaped robot. Cortisol is a hormone that indicates stress. AIBO has some convincing dog-like behaviors; it rsponds when stroked, chases a ball and perks up when it hears a familiar voice.

Purdue psychologist Gail Melson gave AIBO to children ages 7 to 15 for a few play periods; seventy percent felt the robot could be a good companion, like a pet. When AIBOs were provided to elderly residents in independent living facilities for six weeks, residents reported being less depressed and lonely.


(Paro mental commitment robot)

In Japan, a robotic baby seal named Paro is being used in Nanto City, which has an elderly population numbering 26% of all residents. Paro was developed at a cost of $10 million by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Dr. Takanori Shibata, the creator of Paro, has found that interaction with cute, cuddly robots lowered stress, elevated moods and decreased depression. Paro also encouraged communication and social behavior among subjects. Shibata found that brain activity increased 50% in patients with dementia after just twenty minutes with Paro.

New robots like Paro are typical of today's helpful robots. The TMSUK robot helpfully carries your bags in the mall, soothing autonomous fish-bots swim gracefully in acquariums and iRobot's new Scooba keeps you from household drudgery.

Read more about how Robotic pets offer health benefits or Japan's robotic companions. See also the Paro mental commit robot for psychological enrichment website.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/26/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Culture ")

Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.' - Larry Niven, 1972.

Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.' - Bruce Sterling, 1994.

North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.' - Philip K Dick, 1954.

Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...' - Marshall Brain, 2002.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.

Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'

Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'

China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'

Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'

New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'

Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'

Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.'

Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...'

BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.