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Robotics Japan Sony

The Death of Aibo, the Birth of Softbank's Child-Robot 152

New submitter pubwvj writes: Sony is killing off their robot Aibo, stranding the 150,000 or so owners with no support, repairs or parts other than cannibalism. Now we have another Japanese company, SoftBank, releasing a robotic 'child.' Eventually, they too will discontinue the production of parts and support, beginning the process of killing off all those 'children' that are spawned. As robotics become (far) more advanced at what point will it be murder for a company to discontinue a product line?
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The Death of Aibo, the Birth of Softbank's Child-Robot

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:03PM (#49949617)
    reading this stuff.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure the executives make a killing on this deal, while the engineers scream bloody murder to the marketing department in their cubicles. The marketing department accuses the financial division of suffocating their projects to death, naturally. The scene behind the CEOs door will be pure, murderous mayhem.

    • It becomes murder only after the government makes YOU one of the robots. (Believe me, it's trying.)

      But of course, then it won't be acknowledged.
  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:07PM (#49949637)

    By the time we have to worry about sentience, won't we have good enough 3d printing?

    Of course it's also a little worrying to imagine an AI that's sentient and impossible to murder.

    • By the time we have to worry about sentience

      By the time we have to worry about sentience, we'll have been extinct for over a century.

  • Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:08PM (#49949641)

    OK, I'll bite: when it's sentient.

    This place is going to hell lately.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When will it be murder to not donate organs?

      Same answer.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @09:15PM (#49950141)

      OK, I'll bite: when it's sentient.

      Chimps fit most definitions of sentient. They can use language, and express complex thoughts. They are self aware, and recognize themselves in a mirror. They can work together to coordinate complicated activities. Yet killing a chimp is not considered "murder".

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @09:17PM (#49950151) Homepage

        [...] Yet killing a chimp is not considered "murder".

        Perhaps it should be?

    • It makes the Bennet Haselton era look like a golden age.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The consumer rights aspect is more interesting. The sell these things as something you can bond with. In Europe things like washing machines have to have a 10 year supply of parts..

  • Never ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:22PM (#49949695) Homepage

    It's not even murder to kill a cow to eat it. It's not murder to euthanize your old and sick cat. It is not murder for a woman not to have childrens. Why could it be murder to NOT PRODUCE a robot, which is a even barely an assembly of plastic and metal pieces ?

    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      Is it murder to refuse to perform a heart transplant, even if one is available? Probably not.
      Is it murder to withhold a supply of insulin from someone who needs it to live? Maybe more so.
      Is it murder to voluntarily stop producing new insulin shots while retaining a patent that prevents others from doing it? Complicated.

      Of course if robots never advance to the point that you can consider them alive, it's all irrelevant here.

      • Is it murder to refuse to perform a heart transplant, even if one is available? Probably not.
        Is it murder to withhold a supply of insulin from someone who needs it to live? Maybe more so.
        Is it murder to voluntarily stop producing new insulin shots while retaining a patent that prevents others from doing it? Complicated.

        Of course if robots never advance to the point that you can consider them alive, it's all irrelevant here.

        By that time, however, they'll probably seize the factories and start producing Terminators.

      • by kesuki ( 321456 )

        http://www.technologyreview.com/article/401750/electroactive-polymers/ [technologyreview.com]

        robot muscles are real. this makes human shape robots one step closer.

    • The issue isn't about not producing a robot. It's about not producing spare parts for a robot. Does natural wear and tear on the elements of a mechanical being compare to the natural aging of a human? If so, does the refusal to produce spare parts (or perhaps allow others to produce spare parts) equate to the intentional withholding of medical care to a human?

      This doesn't matter so much when they're just bits of simple code, but should a sentient AI ever come to exist, this may become a much more serious

    • If the robot was sentient, and if you couldn't get parts anywhere else or by 3d printing, and if the robot went through parts unusually fast because of poor design or designed obsolescence, then shutting down the spare parts supply would be murder. Miss any of those "if's" and it's just a business choice, just like shutting down the only hospital that can do organ transplants to extend the life of the rich. In practice someone will take up the task of making aftermarket parts, just like the car industry d
    • Cow - Same basic generic structure and common inheritance chain, very similar basic biochemistry, quadruped limb structure, similar basic brain structure, and many other similarities. So not only is it 'murder' it is 'cannibalism' too. It is only modern convention that stops us eating other humans.

      An old basic rule of xeno-biology is that (by generalization) you can only eat your own relatives.. (life from Earth) :D

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Then it will be able to organize political parties.

  • dumb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quonsar ( 61695 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:32PM (#49949739) Homepage
    This is the dumbest post I've seen on Dicedot.
    • This is the dumbest post I've seen on Dicedot.

      You must be new her... oh.

    • by Yosho ( 135835 )

      No, several years ago there was an article posted by Bonk that consisted entirely of a picture of a snake that was eating its own tail. That one was the worst.

      This one's pretty close, though.

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gibgezr ( 2025238 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:42PM (#49949795)

    That is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. WTF is going on at Dice?

    • That is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. WTF is going on at Dice?

      You posted a comment, right? In their mind, that means more ad impressions. Maybe it's even true, somehow and somewhere down the line; it makes the site more likely to come up in a search.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well, they think that since they posted singularity stupid AI shit last week they should post some this week too.

      seriously, the editors don't even try to EDIT. what's the point of even having them?

      I mean, fuck.. it would become murder to discontinue to produce robot parts??? like what the fuuuuuuuck??? driving over an AIBO is not murder. it's a stupid discussion that should be had only after the subject if the discussion would be capable of being murdered in the first place!

  • by biedenbach ( 1210958 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @08:05PM (#49949889)
    Who murdered Slashdot? Between this and the divide by zero question, I weep for the death of intelligent discussion.
    • This posting is what happens when someone divides by zero. :/
    • Exactly. I've seen boring, annoying and even silly articles on Slashdot, but this one and the divide by zero are a completely different breed. I feel like I'm being subtly trolled. It's reassuring to see at least a few posts like yours.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday June 20, 2015 @05:44AM (#49951093) Homepage Journal

      I actually though the divide by zero post was interesting -- not because I took the suggestion that language designers define x/0 to be 0 seriously, but because I thought it was an interesting challenge to explain to someone who thought this might be a good idea why it's really a terrible idea.

      Also there are applications of algebra to sets of things other than numbers, like the permutations of a Rubik's cube, or to matrices, or to error correcting codes. These applications are called "abstract algebra", although in truth they're really no more or less abstract than the usual kinds of algebra. In these kinds of applications questions might arise that sound really strange, like "Is 1 necessarily different than 0?" Ask 99.9% of reasonably educated people that question and they'll consider it stupid, but press them and they can't provide any better answer than "it just is."

      I think it's always interesting to try to explain something that most people think is "self-evidently" true -- by which they mean they have no idea why it's true. In 1984 when O'Brien torments Winston Smith with the non-sensical assertion that "2 + 2 = 5". But I doubt that a mathematician would find such a statement particularly disturbing; it depends on what you mean by "2", "+", "=" and "5".

      • It isn't that it is self evidently true, it's that by simply posing the question you appear to be so idiotic as to dumbfound the person you question.

        The numeric symbols and arithmetic signs you are using are very clearly and universally defined. It is only when used in certain very specific contexts by people too lazy to make up different symbols to express a non-standard meaning that there is any reason to presume that they mean anything other than the normal and obvious definitions.

        You might as well argue

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          The numeric symbols and arithmetic signs you are using are very clearly and universally defined. It is only when used in certain very specific contexts by people too lazy to make up different symbols to express a non-standard meaning that there is any reason to presume that they mean anything other than the normal and obvious definitions.

          That's certainly not the case for the arithmetical signs, which have non-arithmetical interpretations in many abstract algebras.

          • Which is exactly what I said. Instead of creating a new symbol to represent a different concept an old symbol is being co-opted. Those abstract algebras are edge cases, and if there is no indication that someone wants to speak in those terms the rest of us presume that the normal rules for arithmetic apply. And in many, possibly most cases, people aren't even aware that such non-standard uses are even possible.

      • When simulating analogue systems using digital systems you ideally want both 1 and 0 to be in the same noise margin, so effectively 1 does = 0. Of course in reality you normally have considerably bigger noise margins but 1 still equals zero. /0 is a similar kind of question and a pretty important one given that its at the very heart of calculus h = limit(n --> 0)..

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I should have scrolled down prior to my last comment. Well said...

  • Um, never. That's not what "murder" is, okay?
  • Why shouldn't death come for a robot? Where is it written that robots should be granted immortality, even if they are sentient?

    All things come to an end. Even metal and plastic.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @08:11PM (#49949915)

    Aibo: "I want more life, fucker!"

  • Never (Score:5, Funny)

    by hduff ( 570443 ) <{hoytduff} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday June 19, 2015 @08:19PM (#49949927) Homepage Journal

    But I feel like I died a little reading crap like this on Slashdot.

    • I miss the days when Slashdot tags were sort of a group vote, the more people that entered a tag, the more likely it would show up. Crowdsource publicly visible tagging, But then Slashdot realized that it was used more for people to point out the flamebating, slashvertisement, and just generally fuckwitted posts than it was to actually tag the article's content. A feature that got dropped like a hot potato, and which I am very much missing right about now.

  • The difference is that humans can't live forever due to medical/technical realities (as yet), whereas a robot theoretically could.

    At the moment this is just another case of a supplier refusing to supply proper maintenance support and spare parts when it suits them (bastards), but if robots ever become sentient then it could be akin to murder, by denying the "necessities of life"

    • Fundamentally theoretically humans should be able to live almost forever.. Aging is effectively a suicide program, because to nature once you have reproduced you are disposable..

  • Not in my lifetime, my lifetime, mi lyftm,...Dave?

  • If the robot is advanced enough to be considered alive and sapient/sentient, then it will be able to repair itself using off the shelf parts and/or materials it fabs for itself in your garage. This is in addition to fixing and upgrading everything you own on a regular basis.

    A likely outcome/transition point we will see during the Singularity.
    • Of course, because the last time your arm fell off you replaced it with a the contents of a box filled with napkin rings, hair net requisition forms and an inflatable shark... Sentience doesn't equal infinite utility.
      • by tmosley ( 996283 )
        Yes it does, when it isn't lazy nor bound by bias and social convention, and has direct access to the knowledge and experiences of every robot and AI ever made. You teach one AI how to solder a circuit board, that knowledge gets put into a common repository, and suddenly they ALL know how.

        Saying that a strong AI controlled robot can't do something because a human can't is like saying that a computer can't do huge numbers of calculations in a second because a pigeon can't.
        • You're making a wild assumption that *every* world AI would be one in this scenario, and as such intrinsically absorb any knowledge or experience of another. That is a pretty massive logical jump between *a self aware AI in your garage* and Skynet. If said AI is limited within the confines of a body to interact within the world that does not have appropriate dexterity to use or manipulate said tools, let alone grip them, how do you anticipate it wills itself into infinite utility?
          • by tmosley ( 996283 )
            There are already numerous databases of shared resources dedicated to AI, to say nothing of Youtube how-to videos and text based instructions, which they can read a few million times faster than a human.

            And yes, that does assume that it has both mobility and dexterity. Why on earth would you have an AI robot that didn't have those things? So it can look at you and have deep thoughts? You can do that with a computer and a webcam.
            • Probably because these sorts of projects *begin* purely in a computer rather than a humanoid form? And as such peripherals connected to said computer and within its field of vision or awareness would be the initial extent of its capabilities... Again, you're making the assumption that from day one, we have a Terminator with a hive consciousness... Ability to learn, read, and adapt to differing stimuli is unquestioned and a desired result of a true self aware AI. But there are many steps between "cogito ergo
              • by tmosley ( 996283 )
                You keep using that phrase "day one". I do not think it means what you think it means.

                I never said we would have AGI robots on "day one". I said that by the time with have robots with AGI, they will be able to repair themselves without continuing support from the manufacturer.

                We have shared AI resources RIGHT NOW, including a massive skill repository on Youtube that some AI's are already using to learn tool use.
  • I hear the guys over at 8chan have ordered several dozen of these robotic children and a 55-gallon drum of axle grease.

  • by mbone ( 558574 )

    As robotics become (far) more advanced at what point will it be murder for a company to discontinue a product line?

    Never.

  • Bought a laptop 16 months ago, now the backlight is dead. Of course, they scrapped that division and nobody makes replacement parts. When you get tired of something, just ditch it - no need to concern yourself with support.

    • Sony has pretty much always been the worst in the industry as far as after support of their laptops. They stop providing new drivers almost immediately. That was a real bitch back in the days when you could really only ever get mobile drivers from the OEM because the GPU manufacturer wouldn't supply them. Neomagic ugh.

  • I would note this Freefall comic [purrsia.com].

    Just the robot equivalent of organlegging [wikipedia.org]
  • By the time this could be anything like a problem, if 3D printing isn't in everyone's house like it was supposed to be five years ago, we should just nuke ourselves.
  • I remember the first time I saw an Aibo, and remembered being pretty impressed by its mannerisms. It did stuff like the stretches my dogs do, and would even cock its head off to one side the way a dog does when it's puzzled by something.
  • That's what I'd like to see on Slashdot.

  • at what point will it be murder for a company to discontinue a product line

    At a point likely atleast several centuries (if not millenia) in the future.

  • Honestly how hard is it to make replacement parts. Sony would be smart to release the design files for the plastics. As for electronics, people should have no problem figuring that out. Aibo isn't overly complex.

    We're not without options. Get over it.
  • If the consumer wants to keep their robot around the parts will be there much like you can still get parts
    for cars made in the 1980s. As patents expire robot parts for mass produced robots will be made by secondary sources.
    Sentimental attachment to a sentient being would be far stronger than attachment to a preprogrammed toy.

  • I don't see how eating my neighbor gets me parts for my Aibo - unless he has one, too.

    I think you meant that "cannibalizing" (i.e., removing parts from other currently functional) Aibos might be the only way to get said parts - similar words, two VERY different meanings. Even so, functioning Aibos need not necessarily be cannibalized, as I'm sure there may be one or two broken Aibos lying about for parts, too.

  • So many orphans.
  • Unfortunately SlashDot editors deleted the key take home paragraph and instead sensationalized my submission. Aibo and the 'child' robot are not the point. Murder is not the point. The point is product support. The last paragraph, which SlashDot editors deleted from the submission, was:

    "This leads to the thought that it is time for all products that are discontinued to be forced into the public domain, to be open sourced. If a company is going to discontinue something then they need to release all the infor

    • continue itÃ(TM)s useful life.

      Whatever that's supposed to mean...

      • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

        Poor translation between character sets. It was an apostrophe as in "it's" - no idea why that happened. Looked fine on my end until it posted on SlashDot.

    • "Unfortunately SlashDot editors deleted the key take home paragraph and instead sensationalized my submission. ..."

      Sad, from my perspective its an interesting question. I am developing real Strong AI systems - that are intended to achieve self awareness.. With real Strong AI it is a very complex question. The basic answer is that the core design will become mostly unchanging once working, and that an AI can be moved from an obsolete or broken hardware core to a new one. The machines will generally also car

  • This submission isn't useless, it has a distinct use once you see it.

    It's an example.

    It's a convenient and concise way to illustrate the Full Retard overclocking that's been hyping up, the entitled SJW chronic victim slash terminal offendee complex. This entitlement, the demands and imposed obligation, it draws a plain contrast will all the "IT'S MY RIGHT MY CHOICE" derping that's always going on two posts away, yet the irony seems to whoosh on.

    The expectant arrogance is also ignorant. Even if, IF,
  • Companies EOL lots of products. IMHO, the world would be good if companies would put support information (files, designs, STL files, etc) in escrow for 5 years after EOL is declared, then allow them to be used for 'support and maintenance purposes', even if it keeps competitors from building on their IP, or better yet, open source the information after some time.
  • People should have known this day would be comming, it's been 9 years since they stopped production on the robots themselves, so 9 years later stopping the service is even quite a long time..
    And with 3D printing, it shouldn't be hard to replace parts that are damaged..
    And just think how far robotics would have been if Sony didn't stop the aibo, and they did sell just enough to make a small profit..
    One time there was even the notion that a new aibo would be released which would have a CELL processor inside (

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