Will We Be Robots’ Pets?

Technology gets more and more incredible everyday. Things that seemed like they’d be stuck forever in the pages of fiction are finding their way into the real world. Cars that drive themselves and invisibility cloaks that bend light are being perfected. Even the Internet, something that seems so mundane and ordinary to us now, is wildly remarkable.

Robotics, in particular, is a field that is rapidly advancing, and producing technology on a sci-fi level. There are robots that have the ability to fold themselves being 3D printed. There are soft robots that can maintain their shape and properly function, even after being crushed by a vehicle. There are even modular robots that can be customized for different tasks as needed.

All of these things once seemed impossible, or absurd, and there were very few who would have expected any of these things to happen. Sure, there were a few people who made predictions, but a majority of people never would have believed that a car could drive itself, or that a self-constructing robot could really exist. But despite how far-fetched these things may have seemed, they eventually came to be.

An unappealing prediction

However, not everything that is predicted or mentioned in science fiction comes true, and sometimes that’s a very good thing. For example, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has predicted that humans will one day become pets to robots.

At the Freescale Technology Forum in Austin, Texas, Wozniak said that artificially intelligent robots will eventually surpass humans. He said, “They’ll be so smart by then that they’ll know they have to keep nature, and humans are part of nature.”

The exact capacity to which we would be pets seems a little unclear, but Wozniak seemed to make a direct comparison to the way that dogs are kept as pets by humans.

Apple’s co-founder isn’t alone on this one. Fortune reports that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk shares a similar sentiment saying that humans will be treated like, “pet Labradors”.

This is a prediction certainly seems hard to believe, as well as mightily depressing. Luckily, we won’t be faced with this problem for another few hundred years, according to Wozniak.

Who will be the pets?

On the other hand, robotic pets are already a thing.  Often suggested for use by dementia patients, robotic dogs, cats, and even seals are available now. Research suggests that they help older people feel a sense of connection and battle loneliness, even when their owners recognize that they are robots rather than animals.

Robot pets are less trouble than live animals. They won’t encourage mental sharpness pr regular exercise the way a live dog or cat might, but they have been shown to lift people’s moods.

Will robots keep us as pets, or will we be so used to the idea of robots as pets that they will be unable to tame us? Only time will tell.