These people are petting a machine... and they are enjoying it...
I know, it's cute. But what's interesting is how strongly people react to its behaviors even though they know it's a machine.
It appears that the more machines 'act' like they are alive, the more people treat them like they are alive. It makes you wonder just how advanced robots will have to become before we start to treat them like living things.
It used to be assumed that a machine would have to be extremely advanced to fool us into thinking it was alive, but it's starting to appear that regardless of our knowledge of their "mechanicity", we are compelled to interact with machines as living things, as long as they behave like living things. Our natural sense of empathy is so strongly affected by rudimentary behaviors (which is all this little Pleo is currently capable of) that it over rides our perception of machines as machines.