We get it. Being a parent is a heck of a lot of work. You have to pay attention to your kid’s ever-changing physical and emotional needs, provide developmentally appropriate toys and learning opportunities, figure out all their likes and dislikes, remember to re-up on diapers and wipes – and then later, TEACH THEM LIFE LESSONS. (When will it end?)
Well, toy giant Mattel is here to help – or, maybe just freak everyone out – with a new AI-enabled “connected kids room platform” called Aristotle – named, of course, for the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. From what we can tell, it’s kind of a glorified, hyper-intelligent baby monitor, which is actually a lot creepier than it sounds.
Here’s the gist. According to Mattel, Aristotle is designed to evolve and grow with your child from infancy to adolescence, using an “always on” platform that watches, listens and learns to interact with your child. In other words, this machine can recognize when a baby wakes up and will respond with white noise, a lullaby or night light; it can log wet diapers and feedings via a phone app or voice commands; it can search for coupons for kids’ products and toys you want and order them online for you. And this is where it gets even weirder: Aristotle uses voice recognition software to learn your child’s voice and can respond to their questions, teach them the ABCs, help with homework, or give them foreign language lessons. It can remind your kid to say “please” and tell them to finish cleaning their room before they get to watch television. You get the idea.
So yeah, this thing is basically a robot nanny/virtual assistant that collects information on your babies and children, and apparently we’re not the only ones feeling a bit creeped out by the concept. Privacy advocates and lawmakers are weighing in with the concern that Aristotle not only violates children’s privacy, but that Mattel isn’t taking enough steps to ensure that family privacy and personal data will be protected when the product is released.
Of course, we get the appeal of buying something that could help with the messy business of parenting – after all, we’re busy people! But honestly? Call us old-fashioned, but some parts of parenting – like, you know, playing games, helping with homework, teaching basic manners – are just better done IRL.