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A new furless friend

Need I be worried?

The little girl had a twinkle in her eye as she gazed at one and then shifted her attention to the other. Both looked adorable and their glassy incredulous stares made her stomach squirm. She blinked and let out a sigh, “Mom, Dad can’t I keep both? It’s so difficult to choose! One is so cute and the other one seems just so much more companionable.”

Lucky kid, some would think, given the scenario of actually having options. But here’s the thing. She doesn’t have to be the only one. Given the rapid advances in technology anyone wanting to be subjected to this choice is already wondering whether to go in for the adorable robot Jibo or the slightly more advanced Buddy on wheels. And, then there’s Pepper too, the humanoid looking robot.

Buddy, Blue Frog Robotics first robot doesn’t think of Jibo as a competitor simply because Jibo lacks mobility, however that’s hardly a dampener. Jibo’s maker, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, the social robotics pioneer has worked on several robots before. The realization that despite being launched into space, robots were missing in action in people’s lives is what spurred her to make a robot for an even more complex turf, our homes.

Humans have been fascinated with robots for long but trying to do away with every kind of help that a living breathing individual could provide you with, is stretching it a bit too far. I wonder what’s next. A robot to replace specific family members too? Surely someone is working on that already. Simply because it is easier to program machines to do your bidding, isn’t it?

Jibo, the first artificial intelligent robot for the home, may qualify as an interesting friend and personal assistant to have around the house, but a few are wary of how Jibo is the ideal tool for government agencies to spy on families and make them pay for it too. Some are also of the opinion that technology helpers will have a negative impact on human thinking and will power.

Calling Jibo a robot servant is probably maligning its charming innocence. Jibo is not meant for doing grunt work like iRobot’s Roomba or Dyson’s The Eye, both used for domestic cleaning and vacuuming. Jibo is a combination of a personal digital assistant, a camera and a household pet. Don’t forget, it can narrate bedtime stories to your children too. The commercial for Jibo urges us to believe that Jibo is probably the only thing missing in our households and having Jibo will complete our family and add the missing joy and togetherness.

Jibo, Pepper and Buddy are simply the buds of a soon to bloom home robot technology sprint. But would I want to make life so easy for my future children that they simply don’t know how to deal with resistance or hard work or thinking and choosing? Would I like a robot hovering over me capturing and storing my every mood and expression? The thought positively freaks me out. But would I give Jibo and his mushrooming cousins a chance? Just out of curiosity, damn right I would.