Funeral Held for Robotic Dogs

May 3, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. funeral /ˈfyu nər əl/ (n.) – a ceremony for someone or something that died
Example: We attended her grandfather’s funeral.

2. accompany / əˈkʌm pə ni / (v.) – to go with another person
Example: My friend will accompany me to the pet shop.

3. personality /ˌpɜr səˈnæl ɪ ti/ (n.) – one’s character or how a person behaves
Example: The teacher has a very pleasant personality.

4. cease / sis / (v.) – to completely stop something
Example: The company ceased its production because of bankruptcy.

5. attachment /əˈtætʃ mənt/ (n.) – the state of having strong emotions toward something or someone
Example: Some people show strong attachment to their pets.


Read the text below.
A head priest in Japan held a funeral for robotic dogs that are already malfunctioning.

In January 2015, the priest blessed 19 robotic dogs called Aibo. The ceremony was held at the Kofuku-ji temple in Chiba prefecture, Japan. The head priest prayed for the dogs, accompanied by their owners and some engineers from A-Fun, a company that repairs Aibos. Each of the robotic dogs had a tag showing the name of its owner and where the unit came from.

Aibo stands for Artificial Intelligence robot. This series of robots was created by Sony and first released to the public back in 1999. These robots could interact with their owners and develop a personality of their own.

In January 2006, however, Sony announced that it would no longer produce the robotic dogs as part of its cost-cutting initiatives. Although the production had stopped, the company still offered repairs for the robotic dogs. But by July 2014, the company ceased repairs for Aibos altogether.

Even though Aibos are just robots, owners still ended up developing an emotional attachment to them. After Sony ceased its repair services, most owners felt abandoned by the company. This led to the establishment of Aibo support groups. Members of these groups help each other when it comes to prolonging the life of their Aibos. But because the spare parts of Aibos have become very scarce, many of the robotic dogs can no longer be kept alive.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think having a funeral for the robotic dogs is a good idea? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think some people got easily attached to their robotic dogs?

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, can robotic animals still become popular nowadays? Why is that so?
·         If you were to create a robotic pet, what would it be? Please discuss further.

May 3, 2015