via Ben Bashford comes what I think is a remarkably intriguing idea from Japan in the form of the Babyloid - designed as a rather upmarket companion for an aging population frequently separated from an extended family.
Beyond the laugh out loud absurdity of what has been likened in some corners as a Webkinz for seniors, it strikes me that the Babyloid reflects at least two insights that bear consideration, namely:
1. That in societies in which family and community have long been inextricably-linked, the appeal of something like the Babyloid is significant in part because we prefer an inanimate presence to an animate absence.
2. That the 100 or so sounds/cues/behaviors programmed into Babyloid present an interesting litmus test. I’d be very curious to see how few of these behaviors are truly required for the doll to function as a suppository for family. My guess is relatively few.