The day when we walk around with robotic pets instead of live ones may not be that far, claims a new research.
University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Dr Jean-Loup Rault argues pets will soon become a luxury in an overpopulated world and the future may lie in chips and circuits that mimic the real thing.
Rault said though it might sound surreal to have robotic or virtual pets, it could be totally normal for the next generation. He said there were countless patents on robot dogs, and because there is a market for such thing, it would take off in the next 10 to 15 years.
However, he warned that the emergence of robotic pets was a double-edged sword. They could benefit people who were allergic to pets, short on space, in hospital, or scared of real animals, but the ethics of depending on a robot for companionship begs many big ethical questions.
Rault said if people got used to a robotic companion that didn't need food, water or exercise, perhaps it would change how humans care about other living beings.
He added that robot pets of the future could feature bonafide Artificial Intelligence and could learn to think and respond on their own, with social intelligence traits like companionship, love, obedience, dependence.
The study is published in the latest edition Frontiers in Veterinary Science.