AIBO Robot Mortuary Rites in the Japanese Cultural Context

Elena Knox, Katsumi Watanabe

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In 1999 Sony released the AlBO Entertainment Robot, selling more than 150,000 units worldwide until 2006. By 2014, Sony had stopped offering upgrades and maintenance for the product, and owners were faced with the fact their pet-like robots would 'die'. Some shrines and temples in Japan hold ningyo kuyō or mass funerals for dolls and other toys. At the suggestion of a small Japanese tech-repair company called A-Fun, one temple began offering a Buddhist funeral ceremony for AIBOs. Approximately 700 AIBOs have so far received a funeral service. This paper surveys A-Fun's maintenance services for old AIBOs, the AIBO funerals, and Sony's new 2018 AIBO release, in the cross-disciplinary context of human-machine relations in Japan and elsewhere. Drawing on the author's interviews with key actors, it articulates links between philosophy and neuroscience to explain tendencies toward zoomorphism in robot design. Perceiving presence (sonzai kan) and sensibility (kansei) in objects is a culturally contingent phenomenon. Whereas ways of conceiving the partly animate are largely absent from Western philosophy, in the case of AIBO ownership in Japan there is a reverential mindfulness of the technology's inherent contradictions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2018
    PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
    Pages2020-2025
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)9781538680940
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 27
    Event2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2018 - Madrid, Spain
    Duration: 2018 Oct 12018 Oct 5

    Publication series

    NameIEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
    ISSN (Print)2153-0858
    ISSN (Electronic)2153-0866

    Conference

    Conference2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2018
    CountrySpain
    CityMadrid
    Period18/10/118/10/5

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    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Control and Systems Engineering
    • Software
    • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
    • Computer Science Applications

    Cite this

    Knox, E., & Watanabe, K. (2018). AIBO Robot Mortuary Rites in the Japanese Cultural Context. In 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2018 (pp. 2020-2025). [8594066] (IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1109/IROS.2018.8594066