Thanks to Yskat for sending this in :-
Singapore hospitals may get first robotic seals
The first thought I had was why a robotic animal when one could have a real one - but the article says it is to cut down on allergies, scratches, biting, and other inconveniences like having to work around volunteer's schedules, if they bring in live animals.
That's life isn't it? The whole point of life is that it IS messy and often inconvenient, but that's what makes is special. You can programme a robotic seal to replicate the behaviour of affection, but not affection itself. I'd take the real animal over a well-trained robot, programmed to show affection anytime. Kind of how I think most people would still have rather interaction with real people rather than robots. What's next? Replacing doctors and nurses with robots who don't spread infection, and who would be sure to give the 'right' clinical diagnosis based on the symptoms the patient shows?