I'll be the first to admit that this little, er, life form is mighty cute, with its:
...large, expressive, soulful eyes; nubbly organic skin; vocalizations of snuffles, snorts, honks, and coos; and more than 200 realistic biomorphic movements...
And PLEO is more than just another pretty dinosaur baby-face.
PLEO seems to feel and show emotion; he is aware of himself and his surroundings; and he evolves over time as he learns from countless interactions with his environment and with fellow creatures.
Oh, Brave New World!
Is a $349.95 PLEO Life Form by Ugobe really a fellow creature?
Cute, yes. Fun, yes. Funny, yes. Interesting, wildly - given that, we are told, "PLEO develops his own distinct personality, largely based on how he's treated and raised."
So, maybe this is a good thing. People can do nature vs. nurture experiments in their own living room without having to involve actual living, breathing children.
But what about those qualifiers:
A well-loved and nurtured PLEO may become outgoing and playful, while an oft-neglected PLEO may grown up more timid and reserved.
May become outgoing? May become timid and reserved?
You mean I can be really, really nice to my little PLEO and still find it's the bad seed? Could it turn Jeffrey Dahlmer and actually go after me?
And if I get of all those limb, eye, tail, neck, and head biomorphic movements under foot, and give the thing a good, swift kick in its biomorphic arse, it may still grovel over to me to lick my hand? Or turn into a sort of Jurassic Mother Theresa caring for PLEOs, fellow bots, and fellow creatures (goldfish, parakeet, rugrat)?
PLEO's are emotional little beasts, that's for sure,
...capable of expressing a wide range of emotions - happiness, sadness, anxiety, curiosity, moodiness, surprise, and love.
No, no, no-dee-no-no they aren't.
PLEO's can be programmed to mimic the expression of emotions. But unlike, say, a pet or an actual human, they can't actual express a true emotion. And, although I am a complete anthropomorphist - if there is even such a word - in my belief that many of our friends in the animal kingdom have rich, complex and interesting lives, with which (or whom) you can develop a rich, complex, and interesting emotional connection (at least on your side), they're not humans.
And a PLEO is one step removed from this equation: they're not even animals.
You will be amazed at how quickly you establish an emotional bond with this little creature; you will bask in the warmth of his wonderful companionship.
I can certainly see that there could be circumstances in which a PLEO would "break through" to someone with mental illness or some sort of emotional disorder in a way in which human beings or garden-variety animals could not. But I'd only resort to PLEO if those possibilities were exhausted.
And as for it being a "super smart" doll or stuffed animal? (Which is not in the "positioning" but is certainly implied.) Aren't kids better off using their imagination on an object that's more inert - and in their complete emotional and intellectual control?
Other than that, if you have $349.95 (plus S&H) so that you can amaze yourself with the cool technology and the "how do they do that's?", well, that's one thing.
But it's a pretty sad state of affairs if someone has to order a Life Form from Sharper Image so that you can "establish an emotional bond" with it. Just another ersatz, derivative "experience" for us to consume.
I hate to be such a downer before the holidays and all, but selling points are getting creepier and creepier. Is this the way the world ends, not with a bang but with the whimper of a PLEO Life Form?
If you'd like to read last year's crank on animatronics, here's my rant on Butterscotch the Pony.