Besides a few electronic toys that I've purchased for my son (such as the dreaded Furby and a dog that sat, wagged his tail, and barked), I really haven't had very much first-hand experience with robots. These weren't my toys, and they were pretty lame toys at that, so I wasn't particularly attached to them. However, this news story claims that robots can have a profound impact on some people: "My friend, the robot."
According to the article, "For many reasons, people bond with robots in a way they don't bond with their lawn mowers, televisions, or regular vacuum cleaners. At some point, this could help solve the looming health care problem caused by an enormous generation of aging people. Not only could robots make sure they take their medicine and watch for early warning signs of distress, but they could also provide a companion for lonely people and extend their independence."
I am much more of a pet person when it comes to having companionship, but a robot would certainly be less difficult to take care of. I thought cats were independent - occasionally fill their food/water bowls and scoop the litter box - but a robot wins the least-maintenance award, nuts and bolts down. As far as bonding with a robot, I guess I can understand that as well, especially if you spend a lot of time and energy focused on it. I'm interested to know if anyone has formed an attachment or special bond with a robot. If so, I'd like to hear about it.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.