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Digital Best Friends: The Evolution of Robodogs and Humanity

Jun. 14, 2024.
11 min. read. 10 Interactions

In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, how can we harmoniously integrate innovations like robot dogs into our daily lives, ensuring they enhance our social and cultural fabric?

About the writer

Sharon Gal-Or

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Sharon Gal-Or - is a writer, architect of change, Pioneer of Transformation, digital nomad, kosmo punk, game inventor, expert on communities, on innovation and management, leadership & sustainability, SingularityNET ambassador, pioneer @ SNET AGI Collaborations for Ethical Frameworks, and USTP ambassador in Israel. To connect, click here.

Credit: Tesfu Asefa

As we stand on the brink of an era defined by rapid technological advancements, a critical question emerges: How do we ensure that our cultural and social evolution keeps pace with the innovations transforming our world? The challenge is not merely about adopting new technologies but integrating them into the fabric of our daily lives in a way that enhances our collective well-being and cultural richness. This journey is not just about gadgets and AI; it’s about evolving our social structures, values, and interactions to create a harmonious and sustainable future.

Going back in history, humans and dogs have co-evolved over thousands of years, forming a unique bond that has shaped both species. This relationship provides a valuable model for how we might approach the integration of new technologies into our lives. As Kate Darling suggests in “The New Breed,” “Looking at our history with animals provides a blueprint for understanding how we might coexist with robots, blending utility with deep, meaningful relationships.” Just as we have come to rely on dogs for companionship, protection, and assistance, we can envision a future where technological innovations, such as robot dogs, become integral to our daily existence. This historical co-evolution minimizes technophobia by highlighting the benefits and symbiotic relationships we can develop with our technological creations.

Robots will increasingly become part of our daily lives, not just as tools, but as companions, helpers, and even friends. The challenge lies not in creating machines that can love, but in designing them to be worthy of the love and trust we might give them.

David Hanson

So, what does the future look like? In the coming years, we will experience various disruptive innovations that will transform our personal lives, local communities, global economies, and societal and organizational structures. From AI-driven healthcare to automated logistics, these advancements will permeate every aspect of our lives, demanding thoughtful integration and adaptation.

  1. How can we ensure the ethical development and deployment of AI technologies like robodogs?
  2. What are the best strategies for integrating AI into cultural practices without losing traditional values?
  3. How can we design AI systems that are inclusive and accessible to all socio-economic groups?

Fantasy Halloween featuring petrobots (Credit: Sharon Gal-Or via Dall-E)

The Next Disruptive Innovation: Robot Dogs

What do you think, will there be a big change, followed by the Automation Tsunami wave, or a continued stagnation? If you’re wondering what the next disruptive innovation to take over the market and every household will be, I bet on robot pets. Yes, every family will soon have at least one. First, they will integrate with our mobile smart phones, until they will completely replace them. 

These robodogs will be more than just companions that follow commands like “sit” and “shake hands.” Imagine this:

A first-generation robodog that every family must have. It can escort you and your family members, ensuring safety with its advanced sensing and decision-making AI system. It comes equipped with an alarm system, GPS, and even an electrifying shocker for protection. Adopted by car manufacturers, it has a special space in the family car, so it can really travel with you everywhere. Companies like Boston Dynamics have already showcased robots with incredible agility and functionality, hinting at the potential for domestic applications. Additionally, military and security sectors have adopted similar technologies for enhanced surveillance and protection, as reported by reputable sources like MIT Technology Review.

It also syncs with your phone and includes a projector. Just tell it what you want, like ordering a pizza, playing hide and seek, or football with your kids. You can even ask for advice on maintaining a healthy, happy family relationship. This integration reduces the need to constantly look at screens, offering a more interactive and engaging way to manage daily tasks and entertainment. The robodog can become the family’s mainstay, bridging dialog gaps for better communication and suggesting healthy, happy activities. This could mark the end of the era dominated by mobile phones and screens, ushering in a new phase where interactive, engaging AI companions take center stage in our daily lives.

Digital Best Friends (Credit: Sharon Gal-Or via Dall-E)

These robodogs will come in various sizes, catering to different needs and preferences, and they will open up a whole new accessories industry. Think of the transformers, how cool can it get?! And think of custom collars, AI-enhanced toys, and even fashionable outfits for your robotic pet. With its continuous open-source ecosystem, this new family Cyber Dog will attract developers who will continuously add extra special features. I can’t wait to see all the short videos shared by everyone, showing off new robodog tricks. Imagine also how these companion pets can become any imaginable animal we have in mind, even dressing them up for Halloween and festivals as integral, accepted family members.

But, wait a minute! I’m actually wondering why Elon Musk didn’t choose to develop a robot dog before making Tesla Optimus. Maybe he missed out on a barking good opportunity. Notable voices like Andrew Yang have highlighted the need for ethical considerations and inclusivity in AI development, underscoring the importance of integrating such innovations thoughtfully into society.

If you think about it, Robodogs have the potential to significantly impact human health and well-being, both mentally and physically. For example, they can reduce loneliness by providing companionship to those who might otherwise be isolated. Studies have shown that emotional bonds with pets can significantly improve mental health, and robodogs could replicate these benefits. For example, PARO, the robotic seal used in nursing homes, has been proven to reduce stress and improve the emotional state of elderly patients. This exemplifies how robot pets can provide meaningful companionship and emotional support. They can also provide physical assistance to individuals with disabilities, helping them with tasks and enhancing their independence.

Adopting social robot pets like robodogs rather than humanoid robots is crucial for the next phase of human evolution. Social robot pets offer a more relatable and emotionally engaging experience. These robotic companions can seamlessly integrate into our lives, providing companionship, teaching responsibility, and enhancing emotional well-being. Unlike humanoid robots, which may create unrealistic expectations and discomfort, robodogs can naturally fit into our existing social structures. Furthermore, the integration of robodogs could signal the end of the mobile phones and screens era. These interactive companions can handle many tasks currently managed by smartphones, such as reminders, entertainment, and communication, reducing our reliance on screens and fostering more meaningful human-robot interactions. By embracing social robot pets, we can create a more harmonious and enriched future where technology supports and enhances our everyday lives.

And what about Robot Cats? Robot Rabbits? Robot Horses? Robot Dolphins? Other Friendly AI companions? And what about Licensed ones, such as Iron-Man, Transformers, Sonic and others? (Credit: Sharon Gal-Or via Dall-E)

Cultural Integration and Ethical Considerations

Is life becoming more like a game? The introduction of robodogs into our homes represents more than just a leap in technology; it signifies a shift in how we interact with and perceive technology within our cultural framework. Here’s how these advancements can foster cultural and social evolution:

Companionship Redefined: Humans and Robodogs

Countries like Japan and China, facing low birth rates and a growing elderly population, are in dire need of solutions to maintain economic growth and care for their aging citizens. Robodogs can be part of this solution. Imagine clips or animations of robodogs interacting with children, the elderly, and even pets. These examples highlight their versatility and friendliness, emphasizing how seamlessly they can integrate into various aspects of family life. Robodogs can teach responsibility to children, provide companionship to the elderly, and even help manage household tasks . Imagine the integration into our daily lifestyle: an hour a day instead of watching another series on Netflix, an elder or a child engages in a conversation with its friendly robodog.

Imagine the integration into our daily lifestyle: an hour a day instead of watching another series on Netflix, an elder or a child engages in a conversation with its friendly robodog.

These robodogs are designed to be eco-friendly, made from recyclable materials and operating on energy-efficient systems. This aligns with the growing demand for sustainable products and reflects a cultural shift towards environmental responsibility . By choosing eco-friendly options, families contribute to a greener planet while enjoying the benefits of advanced technology.

Future upgrades could include enhanced emotional intelligence, language translation capabilities, and advanced home automation integration. This not only keeps the technology relevant but also ensures that it grows alongside our evolving needs and cultural norms. The robodogs of the future could understand and respond to human emotions, bridging the gap between human and machine interaction .

Robodogs can connect families with a broader community of users, creating social networks where experiences and tips are shared. This fosters a sense of community and collective growth, as families exchange ideas and support each other in navigating the technological landscape. The shared experience of owning a robodog can bring people together, fostering a global network of connected users .

To ensure that these robodogs are accessible to all families, plans for affordability could include financing options or subsidies. Making advanced technology available to a broader audience helps bridge socio-economic gaps and promotes inclusivity. By democratizing access to cutting-edge technology, we can ensure that its benefits are felt across all layers of society .

The adoption of robodogs will vary significantly across different cultures. In tech-savvy nations like Japan and South Korea, where there is a strong cultural affinity for robotics and innovation, robodogs might be embraced quickly as part of the household. In contrast, cultures with a strong tradition of human-animal relationships, like many in the Western world, might initially resist replacing real pets with robotic ones. Understanding these cultural nuances is essential for developers and policymakers to tailor the introduction and support of robodogs globally .

Kate Darling reminds us that, as with animals, our ethical responsibilities toward robots will be paramount. We must develop guidelines to ensure these entities are treated with respect and their integration into society is beneficial and humane. “As we invite robots into our homes and lives, we must consider the ethical implications, ensuring they are designed and used in ways that respect both the robots and the humans who interact with them.”

Ethical and legal considerations are paramount in the development and deployment of robodogs. Kate Crawford, an AI ethics researcher, emphasizes the importance of transparency and accountability in AI systems. “We need to ensure that AI technologies are developed in ways that are fair, inclusive, and do not perpetuate existing biases,” she states. The Future of Life Institute also advocates for robust safety measures and ethical guidelines to prevent misuse and ensure the beneficial integration of AI into society.

Ben Goertzel, a leading AI researcher, argues for the importance of creating AI systems that can coexist harmoniously with humans. “The goal should be to develop AI that enhances human capabilities and fosters a collaborative relationship,” he suggests.

Credit: Sharon Gal-Or

A Call to Action

I always like to say that we need to think like gardeners, farmers and custodians of the earth. Just as trees require years to grow and mature, and children need time and nurturing to learn and develop, societal and cultural evolutions cannot be rushed. We must focus on what we can achieve gradually rather than trying to accelerate the process unnaturally. As I wrote in my previous article about “Surviving the Automation Tsunami Wave,” it is likely that things will get worse before they get better. Therefore, the challenge remains: we must develop, regulate, and jointly exploit the most advanced safe AI and AGI technologies while reliably banning unsafe ones for the betterment of humanity .

The future will be shaped by how well we can integrate these technological advancements into our cultural fabric. We must embrace innovations like robodogs & robocats while evolving our social structures and values. By fostering inclusivity, sustainability, and community, we can ensure that technology enhances our lives rather than disrupts them.

The Regenaissance ‘Regenerative Renaissance’ is upon us, where self-production and sustainable practices become the norm, and technology acts as a catalyst for positive change. As we climb the densities ladder and evolve our consciousness, let us use these advancements to create a future that is not only technologically advanced but also culturally enriched and socially cohesive.

Question for Readers: What aspects of adopting social robot pets excite you the most, and how do you think they will impact your daily life? Share your thoughts in the comments below and join the conversation!

References

  • Ahmet Atak, “ETHICAL DESIGN AND RESPONSIBILITIES,” September 2023. Link
  • Andrew Yang, “The War on Normal People.” Link
  • Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, “The Second Machine Age.” Link
  • International Labour Organization, “World Employment and Social Outlook 2020.” 
  • Kate Crawford, “Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence.” Link
  • Kate Darling, “The New Breed: What Our History with Animals Reveals about Our Future with Robots.” Link
  • Kai-Fu Lee, “AI Superpowers.” Link
  • McKinsey Global Institute, “The Future of Work in America.” Link
  • Qiaosi Wang, Michael Madaio, Shaun Kane, Shivani Kapania, Michael Terry, Lauren Wilcox, “Designing Responsible AI: Adaptations of UX Practice to Meet Responsible AI Challenges,” CHI ’23: Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Link
  • Sharon Gal-Or, “Circadian AI.” Link
  • Sharon Gal-Or, “Humanity’s Upgrade — New Features Revealed.” Link
  • Sharon Gal-Or, “Surviving The Automation Tsunami Wave.” Link 
  • The Future of Life Institute. Link
  • World Economic Forum, “The Future of Jobs Report.” 

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4 Comments

4 thoughts on “Digital Best Friends: The Evolution of Robodogs and Humanity

  1. interesting content....

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  2. I would very much like to have at least one robodog. For me, the companionship feature is good enough.

    I think I have read research on pet robots and how to code the AI in a way that it can understand human emotion and then react accordingly. Like when you call your pet in a friendly tone, it will wag its tail to show its affection, but if you shout at it, it will tuck its tail and cower in fear.

    But I have a question: what about affordability?

    I remember a beautiful age when the best Apple phones used to hit the market for under 1000 USD. Sadly, now it's not just Apple, but many of the other ones from the Android camp are above the 1k mark.

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  3. I have no problem when it comes to seeing the application of such petrobots. In fact, the application has a 'need' and a 'want' side. Yet, there is no earthly way that can make such petrobots more eco-friendly and more energy efficient than real animals, no way, dude!

    Even with our current biological petanimals, we are wasting tons of energy and also polluting the environment. Heck, some even argue that cows are one of the major agents in the global warming crisis.

    The first and second laws of thermodynamics assert that what you stated here, which is "we can make petrobots energy efficient and eco-friendly," is nothing but a pipedream if we massmanufucture them in volumes that equates the current number of real pet animals. Sorry, bud, but reality is a harsh bitch.

    Unless we discover some new form of matter that is not governed by the laws of physics in the known and observable universe, mass manufacturing of petrobots will kill the planet in the long run by sucking out all the energy and contributing a nightmarish amount of pollution.

    Discovering such new form of matter is highly unlikely before the age of AGIs and it truly requires a superintelligence.Until then, I strongly warn against such steps. Maybe producing only on-demand petrobots is even a big maybe.

    God, we are wasting an incredible amount of energy on so many useless or low-priority tools. Let's stick, at least for a while, with our biological pets and try to postpone a planet-sized junkyard of tech garbage.

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  4. Very thought provoking.  As an animal lover who shares his house with two feline friends Alfred and Cassie, I would love to have a social robot pet to assist me in caring for my friends. I can see a future where AGI guided robots are able to assist and improve the living conditions of not only humans. While is is very important to ensure that AGI understands humans, the potential to help us humans be more humane is for me, a wonderful opportunity. Imagine for instance, robots in the wild helping to reduce the threats to Elephants from a variety of both man made and natural causes. I see a wonderful future for such robots.

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