Sunday, February 3, 2019

Robot Dogs and Cats? Seriously?


Mum may have to cease reading me excerpts from the newspaper because some of the stories are quite disturbing.  I mean I’ve heard people say that reading the paper is plain ol’ depressing, but this latest story has got me bummed. 

Have you heard that people worry about robots taking over the world a la the Terminator movies?  I’m sure you’ve read articles about robots doing folks out of their jobs, right?  Well, this story is about robots doing us animals out of our jobs.  That’s right, and it’s not things like heavy lifting, guarding the house, sniffing for bombs or drugs, pulling wagons, fetching balls, or digging holes. We animals might stand for that—well all except maybe the ball fetching and hole digging.

It’s much worse, and it’s bad for dogs and cats.  There’s some weird technology called animatronics. It refers to using robots to emulate people and animals.  Technically, a human-like robot is an android, but an animatronic dog or cat?  That is beyond the pale.

Companies have developed robotic dogs and cats to provide emotional support to humans. I’ve already told you what I think about mascots, humans who dress up to look like animals, but robots?  How can a robotic cat provide emotional support?

You’ll have to find a video to get the full impact of this atrocity, but a robotic cat purrs and meows.  If you pet its face, it will nuzzle your hand and even raise its paw to wash its face.  They say it will roll over on its back for a belly rub, but I don’t believe it. The company bills them as therapy robots that can provide comfort to the elderly.  Are they serious?

You know, Puddin’ can be a pain, especially when she takes over my dog beds, but I still love her.  I know I’m not the one who scoops her pan, but how hard can that be?  Well, yes Mum has to clean the cat hair off the couch and the bedspread too, but still.  And then, there’s the occasional hairball. No matter, I’m not buying it.  A robot cat won’t move back and forth between Mum and Dad’s laps to share the love, and I can’t see it leaping and playing with cat toys.  Nope, no way we’re letting any robots in the Royal Abode.

As for robot dogs, Mum and I watched a video of a Companion Pup by Hasbro.  It opens its mouth and barks and turns its cute golden head, but it doesn’t roll over, lie beneath your desk, lick your face, or any of those critical touchy-feely things. I do more, so much more than this silly robot does. Can you take it for a walk?  Nope. Can you train it to come, sit, stay or shake?  Don’t think so.

Apparently, some pet parents think it’s inconvenient to take us dogs for walks, and they don’t want to use those little plastic bags for you know what.  I do understand that if a person isn’t very mobile, we dogs can be a problem. So, less able folks should get special dispensation to have robot dogs.  For that matter, they should go for the robot cat, since it does way more than any of the robot dogs we’ve seen.

Let it be known that Lord Banjo is mightily displeased with the idea of robotic cats and dogs, and forbids any further mention of them. Should a robotic animal appear in the Kingdom, rather than “off with their heads,” it will be “out with the batteries.”

Good news for dog lovers!  Lord Banjo’s columns will be included in his new book coming out in 2019.  He welcomes fan mail at inkpenn119@gmail.com.

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