It's been 15 years since Sony used the DMCA to shut down the community that had sprung up to extend the functionality of its Aibo robot dogs, threatening people with lawsuits and jailtime for modifying their dogs' operating systems.
Now, Sony has brought back the Aibo and with it, revived its view that you can never truly own a product you buy from the company.
The new, $1700 Aibo has a mandatory $26/month subscription fee, tethering it permanently to a Sony server. I will bet you anything that anyone releasing a mod that allows the Aibo to run as a standalone will get both a DMCA 1201 (circumventing DRM) and CFAA (violating terms of service) threat.
Just your latest reminder that in the 21st century, property can only be owned by transhuman, artificial life forms called limited liability corporations, and the rest of us are digital tenants, renting our gadgets on terms unilaterally set by these colony organisms and enforced at our expense by governments that only represent them.
But if you want to go to Japan (the only place aibo is available for now) and throw down $1,700 for an aibo, keep in mind it now requires a $26 monthly subscription. Sony states that this subscription plan is "necessary to utilize aibo," and will allow your robo-canine to connect to Wi-Fi to function, as well as download updates from the cloud, and to back up data. Just like your wardrobe, entertainment, meal kits, vitamins, razors, and everything else, even your fake pet now requires a subscription. Welcome to 2017, aibo.
Sony Wants to Sell You a Subscription to a Robot Dog