In Japan, a Buddhist Funeral Service for Robot Dogs, it says here at National Geographic.
[T]his is actually a religious ceremony, and the emotions expressed by the human participants are genuine. … AIBOs aren’t like a remote-control car. They were designed to move in complex, fluid ways, with trainability and a simulated mischievous streak. …
Over time, they would come to “know” their human companions, who grew attached to them as if they were real dogs.
Uh huh. Well. I’m guessing, given the current state of technology, that if someone has one of these robot dogs along with a number of real dogs, they will find that the robot’s impression of the real thing suddenly seems less convincing. That would probably drive a stake through the heart of their emotional attachment.
I get that people can (somehow) get emotionally attached to cars and other mechanical objects. So I guess I sort of believe that a person could get attached in that way to a robot dog. But no one believes their car actually returns their attachment, right? No one thinks their car’s feelings will be hurt if they don’t pat it good night. So ordinarily a person’s attachment to a machine is not remotely in the same ballpark as the emotional attachment to a real, living, dog. At least, not under normal circumstances. I feel sorry for someone so lacking in the company of real animals (and people) that they are at all inclined to emotionally attach to a robot dog. In the back of their mind, they have to know all the time that it is a fake and doesn’t have any kind of emotions or thoughts.
It reminds me of this:
He [Spanish electronic engineer Sergi Santos] predicted that within the next couple of decades robots like Samantha won’t just be playthings men hide under the bed or in the back of the closet. Men will be marrying them, said Santos, who runs a company named Synthea Amatus in Barcelona.
And after marriage comes the baby carriage, which Santos claims he can make happen with nanotechnology. The doll wouldn’t give birth like a human. Santos would create a new artificial intelligence brain — an SD card in its head — for the offspring by merging the robot’s personality with the beliefs of its human partner.
“I can make them have a baby. It’s not so difficult. I would love to have a child with a robot,” he told the Sun.
Obviously a robot doesn’t have actual beliefs. AI would have to develop a LOT further before there would be any point in talking about the beliefs and emotions and personality of a robot doll. What kind of person could fool themselves into thinking that either the doll or a “child” doll could in any way be a real person?