A mass Buddhist funeral for about 100 Aibo “pet dog” devices has taken place in Japan, cementing a growing trend in the technology-obsessed country.
The ceremony for the Sony machines was presided over by an android called Parlo.
“We can still recall his or her figure and smile vividly,” Parlo told mourners who had gathered at a temple in Isumi, a city to the south of Tokyo.
The first ever robot “pet” funeral took place in 2015 (pictured) but since then the number of machines being given the last rites in the manner of a human being or favorite animal has been increasing.
Sociologists believe the rise in popularity of this sort of occasion reflects the fact that growing numbers of elderly and single Japanese people have sought solace in the artificial intelligence of an Aibo dog as an alternative form of companionship.
Between 1999 and 2006, Sony sold about 150,000 of the Aibo pets, which cost about $2,000 each. The company axed its product support service earlier this decade, forcing desperate owners to contact former Sony engineers in a personal capacity requesting they fix their ageing “companions”.
The machines remembered at this month’s funeral were apparently considered to be beyond repair.
However, it’s been suggested that some will become “organ” donors, allowing Aibo owners to cannibalize them for spare parts.