A critical look at AI in toys

Karien Vermeulen

In May 2018 Stefania Druga presented the first results of her research "My Doll Says It's OK: Voice-Enabled Toy Influences Children's Moral Decisions". This research prompted us to look critically at the influence of AI in the relationship between parents and children. To do so, we start the project 'AI AI Barbie' together with medialab SETUP, supported by the SIDN Fund in the Netherlands.

With 'AI AI Barbie' we design new frameworks for responsible use of AI in toys with parents, children and experts from different disciplines. By 'responsible' we mean: the abiity to understand and reflect critically on the technological concepts behind this development.

We do this in a hands-on manner: we 'hack' smart Barbies and set new rules for her behaviour. By diving into the technology, we are working on raising awareness about this theme and thinking about alternatives. In addition to this practical approach, we also take a more artistic approach.

It is a structured exploration for us to think about the question:

What role do we want AI to take in our families?

AI that reaches us now still uses codes written by people and is often developed for and by a commercial company. It is therefore tangible and understandable but not flawless and certainly not without an agenda.

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