Back in 1990, Sony began selling a cyborg dog named Aibo for $600 to $2,000. Aibo, short for “Artificially Intelligent Robot”, was designed not only to respond to external stimuli but also learn by itself and thus develop a unique personality. Aibo quickly became a hit product, with 150,000 units being sold in Japan and also the United States.
In 2006, however, Sony announced its decision to discontinue the Aibo line. Following the announcement, the company repaired the existing Aibos, but discontinued repair services in July 2014.
Owners of Aibos managed to find help from A Fun, an Aibo repair specialist, but the scarcity of spare parts meant that lives of some Aibos that experienced technical difficulties could not be saved. Recently a joint funeral was held for the 19 little robot dogs in Chiba, sparking a heated discussion in Japanese media.
While some people ridicule the idea of holding a funeral for non-living things like Aibo, many are predicting that it might just be a normal thing to do to mourn the death of domestic robots as they are increasingly present in our lives here in Japan. Joint funeral for robot dog Aibo.