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Thought Leadership

AI Assistant for Children Pulled Before it’s Release | The Rising Concerns Over Privacy

By November 7, 2017 No Comments
Privacy with Amazon Alexa and Aristotle

Mattel recently pulled it’s AI Baby Monitor, “Aristotle” just before it’s release. Marketed as an Amazon Echo for kids, the company faced rising concerns about privacy. The device was created to serve as an enhanced baby monitor– featuring a camera, night light, and white noise skill that would deploy when it heard a child’s cry.

Parent’s, lawmakers, and doctors alike grew anxious when they learned that the device would collect information from the child’s bedroom, and send it to their cloud.

However, storing private information isn’t just the purview of Aristotle.

The exact same concerns apply to other home assistants like Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. We’ve touched on the need for a neutral player in the market (queue Mycroft AI) that doesn’t force you to share your data.

That’s right. We have an opt-in clause for sharing your data. Which means you can still have a AI personal voice assistant, but don’t have to worry about sharing those private moments with big corporations. And no one is keeping recordings from your child’s room.

After we mitigate privacy issues, it’s important to think about the role technology will play in children’s lives. Personal assistants stand to become some of the best tutors and teachers out there, if for nothing else than their consistent presence and ability to answer questions. However, the way kids interact with these personal assistants is of particular interest.

Can children differentiate human communication skills from their communication style when speaking to an AI? Are they able to understand you can’t throw out demands to people like you can with your home assistant?

Here at Mycroft, we’re dreaming up possibilities where a parent can customize how a child interacts with their assistant. What would a “manners mode” look like within a device?

Of course there comes a time when a child is able to easily differentiate, and this mode would no longer be needed. Good thing our tech is open – and can be customized at any point.

NPR gave some tips we feel are worth mentioning. While technology is a great addition to youngster’s life, there are right and wrong ways to interact with it.

  1. Don’t be bossy – for kids that can’t understand communication style will differ when speaking to an AI and to actual humans, it’ll likely be good practice to use manners in every situation.
    1. This includes saying please and thank you as you would within the real world.
    2. Children will pick up on the communication style of their parents, so it’s a good habit to build for them to be polite as well.
  2. Join the conversation – dig deeper into what your kids are learning, and flush out the conversation. NPR noted that these systems are passive, so when children interact with them they’re brushing on a variety of topics, but not necessarily reaching a high level of complexity on any one.