Want to know what the Japanese government has been doing with 12 million dollars for the past two years? Developing Silver Technology, that is, robots for lonely old people. The intuitive baby harp seal, which I encountered at the RoboBusiness 2007 conference in Boston, is equipped with internal motion sensors and responds to petting, scratching and holding. It also emits exceedingly cute seal-like chirps and sheds its "fur"—you know, like seals do. Come on, what's $3500 for a bundle of robotic animal joy? Unfortunately, the seal is only available in Japan, so if you were thinking about buying one for Grandma just so you wouldn't have to visit her anymore, the jig's up.