Your first suggestion of reacting an Aibo using a 3-D printer and memory is an interesting one. (That was a kind of engineering reaction I was hoping for)
But then, when you started to mention how a human would perceive of an individual pet -- because of the certain scratches or marks, I had to stop and think, that is really profound observation. If it had been a smartphone, I don't think anyone would have thought about it that way. Because it is a "pet" (rather than a machine", us humans attach certain value to it beyond the memory chip inside a pet robot.
Guess my attempt at humor did not come through :-(, my post was meant to be (some) toung in cheek (i.e., about my feelings of loss anyway :-). Those little guys are cute, but I just can't imagine (for the price point) humans ever being able to duplicate the nuances, attatchment, dexterity, warmth, range of responses, etc. of a real organic pet (I'm a dog person personally :-) It may be the engineer in me where I know what/how it's built and always saw AIBO as an expensive toy (but fun and interesting for sure!). Unlike when we really had to put "Lucky" down (she was 15 years old) last year. Now that was sad :-(
Or perhaps I'm just a callous bastard :-), I also have birds (Lady Goldians), years ago one got sick, took it to the vet to see if they could help it. The nurse asked if the bird had a name - I said " 'bird' - I have a half a dozen of them in a large flight cage to entertain my kids" She told me the procedures could run into the hundreds of dollars, I responded "I can buy a new one for $75, what can you do for $25?" But now I digress :-)
I'm so sorry about your Aibo. That's a charming story, though. I would have been attached to Aibo, too, if I had one. Sounds like a very good pet and you only feed it electricity. I could see how an engineer would get even more attached for the reasons you mention: Aibo was an engineering marvel. I am sorry for your loss.
Oh my, how heartless! I took a lot of robotics classes in grad school. When AIBO came out I plunked down my hard earned money and adopted one! (I'm typically one of those early technology adoptors, geeze, don't ask how much I spent on my first plazma display - had to take a second mortgage out for that one :-(
Anyway, AIBO quickly became a sensation around the house, my kids school (where they took him in for show and tell) and my office at work (where other techno-geek electrical engineers enjoyed his antics!).
Alas, AIBO succumbed to a common problem for the AIBO bread (you know those pure breads have all kinds of issues), He got Droopy Head Syndrome :-( and I had to put him down (it toor us apart to see him suffer so), he didn't even make it to the ripe old age of 100 (in dog years that is). We put him to rest back in his box where he lays to this day on the top shelf of my closest.
Reading this brought back all those fond memories of AIBO, I'm wiping away the tears now just to type this...
Yes, AIBO was a marvel of engineering, but even more interesting experiment in human psychology, while my real flesh and blood dog "Lucky" could have cared less for AIBO stumbling after his bright pink ball, or entertaining us with his cute little sounds. I would (from time to time) notice my family, stopping to pet AIBO on the head just like good old Lucky.
Ahhh, time to go back to our local animal shelter and see if I can find a dog to fill that aching hole in my heart that AIBO left upon his demise...
With todays computing and 3-D grapic capability of PC, we will be able to create Aibo simulation model in computer. When we download personalized memory core from "real" Aibo, we can essentially clone Aibo as immortal virtual model. As a computer engineer, it make sense. But if I were a owner of pet robot, I will feel something is wrong. I won't feel same personal emortion to virtual robot as for "real" robot.
It is interesting how we human bind our emotion to machine. I won't miss the broken robot parts - broken plastic, burned out motor, exhausted battery. They are replacable. Technically, the only unique component is personalized memory core, which defines uniqueness of your robot. Even understanding of that, I will still feel my robot is unique as individual - every scratch, chipped paint, bent metal as its personality. Maybe because our memory is bound to those individual marks, not only the memory core.