Over 15k concerned parents, psychologists, and privacy experts have signed a petition to keep Mattel from releasing Aristotle, an Amazon Echo-like device for kids.
Mattel says Aristotle is designed to provide parents with a “platform that simplifies parenting, while helping them nurture, teach, and protect their young ones.”
“Absolutely f*cking not.” — Parents
With a built-in speaker and camera, the device is meant to be placed in a child’s room to answer their questions, soothe them, and even teach them foreign languages — essentially like a hyper-intelligent, humanoid baby monitor.
The problem is, there are no long-term studies about how this type of technology affects child development, and parents are rightfully concerned that letting a robot teach their child how to be a human will encourage babies to bond with inanimate objects instead of real people.
AI assistants today aren’t exactly a model for human empathy — and while you and I can easily decipher the difference between robot and person, the distinction could get pretty blurry for kids exposed to this kind of tech from their earliest days of consciousness.
The more we think about it, the ickier we feel
Mattel describes Aristotle as a baby product that “grows with your child.”
In other words, we’ve got humans learning how to be human from a simulation that’s also learning how to be human.
And if that’s not enough to keep you up at night, consider the privacy concerns tied to a device that’s been listening and watching you from the time you could talk: what kinds of information could it collect? And what could a company do with it?
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