Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: October 11th, 2015
Since there have been toys, we have wanted them to speak to us. But in the past five years, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and speech recognition have given the devices around us smartphones, computers, cars the ability to engage in something approaching conversation. Artificial intelligence for children [is arriving] most prominently in the pink, perky form of Mattels Hello Barbie. Hello Barbie is by far the most advanced to date in a new generation of A.I. toys. Every one of Barbies potential conversations was mapped out like the branches of a tree, with questions leading to long lists of predicted answers, which would trigger Barbies next response, and so on. The writers marked important questions with "flags," and this enabled Hello Barbies most unnerving power: She could remember the answers and use them for conversation starters days or weeks later. "She should always know that you have two moms and that your grandma died, so dont bring that up, and that your favorite color is blue, and that you want to be a veterinarian when you grow up," [ToyTalk writer Sarah] Wulfeck said. For psychologists ... the primary concern with A.I. toys is not that they encourage kids to fantasize too wildly. Instead, researchers worry that a conversational doll might prevent children, who have long personified toys without technology, from imagining wildly enough. Hello Barbie ... is limited by programming and public-relations concerns. Mattel, rather than kids, ultimately controls what she can say.
Note: Will this new toy have similar issues as other "smart" objects?