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Is artificial intelligence the future of pets?

Go1 AI Robot Dog attends the 2023 Texas Black Expo Day 2 at George R. Brown Convention Center on May 20, 2023, in Houston. (Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Humans have probably heard the phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend.”

Now, it could be “AI is a man’s best friend.”

Artificial intelligence has been a major topic of conversation as it continues to advance and become integrated with everyday life.

For people who grew up in the 1990s, the concept may not be a wild one. After all, we did have Tamagotchi handheld digital pets.

The more recent AI pets are a little more advanced than the electronic pocket pets.

Boston Dynamics and other companies have gone viral several times on social media with videos of their lifelike robot animals. Many of them can run, jump and even follow basic human commands.

China-based company Unittree boasts a robotic companion named the Go1. It walks on all fours as a dog or cat would, and has a following feature so you never have to worry about the robot running off.

According to the company website, there are other options, as well, like the Go2, which comes with a self-charging base for your AI pet.

Dr. Harvey Castro is a Dallas, Texas-based medical professional, and is an expert in AI in health care.

Castro says there are pros and cons to the possibility of artificial intelligence pets.

“While robotic pets offer continuous companionship, low maintenance, elimination of allergy exposure, and even mental health support, AI ‘companionship’ can also be limiting,” Castro said in a statement.

Castro added, “AI pets cannot replicate the complex and rich experience of caring for a real animal.”

He also says they may not be the best for people when it comes to being active. “Unlike real pets, A.I. pets don’t encourage owners to engage in physical activity, like walking or playing,” Castro said in the statement.

Castro also mentioned the potential risks related to data privacy and dependency on AI pets for companionship, which could lead to the neglect of real-life relationships.

“The long-term psychological and emotional effects of having AI pets, especially on children, are yet to be fully understood,” Castro said in the statement.