A little over a year after AIBO’s release, My Real Baby became available in stores. In November 2000, I attended a party at MIT to celebrate its launch. The air was festive: My Real Babies were being handed around liberally to journalists, designers, toy-industry executives, and members of the MIT faculty and their guests.
An editor from Wired magazine made a speech at the party, admiring how much advanced technology was now available off the shelf. The robot was impressive, certainly. But it was also surprisingly clunky; its motors whirred as its limited range of facial expressions changed. Engineering students around me expressed disappointment, having hoped for more. As I chatted with one of them, my eyes wandered to ...