This is bumped from the comments.
Steve Gurney is a leading edge thinker, publisher and advisor in the arena of aging services.
Here is his take on Paro the Baby Seal Robot.
July 9th, 2010
One of my clients made a big deal about having the first Paro in the US a few years ago. I didnt get it, it just looked like a stuffed animal to me. Then I had a chance to see their residents interact with Paro first hand, I was truly amazed.
My 7 year old son is allergic to dogs, we would love to have a living breathing dog in our house but its not feasible for health reasons. Would a Paro in our house be a nice addition? It might.
We wouldnt use Paro as a babysitter for our children, it wouldnt be an excuse not to engage in conversations or activities together. Just like a pet, it would be something for individual and family interaction and with our friends. For eldercare settings with some extra budget, looking for something unique and different, Paro MIGHT work the same way.
I agree its a bit bizarre to have a “emotional” relationship with a machine, probably just as bizarre as engaging in a “conversation” with a bunch of people on a blog instead of in a classroom. I would love to be able to look everyone in the eye, shake their hand and see your physical reaction to my opinion on topics. However, technology has brought us together in a different way, Paro might deliver some benefits sans pooper scooper.