This robot nanny could spy on your child
Aristotle, the robot nanny, is Mattel’s latest invention and considered one of the latest evolution of the baby monitor. However, it seems to have a dark, intruding side.
Installing a spy camera in your child’s room that has access to the Internet can be really problematic. This is exactly what Aristotle, a digital nanny companion, brings. It aims to replace tasks that are traditionally met by parents or other adult humans, like recognizing when a kid wakes up, singing lullabies or white noise, answering questions until the child falls asleep, requiring kids to say “please” when asking for something and offering lessons on foreign languages. But it does a lot more, according to Tree Hugger. PSFK describes it:
“[Aristotle] has a Wi-Fi enabled camera that can detect motion and identify objects. Parents can watch the video feed on their smartphones from another room, and even utter commands to help calm a crying or scared child. Among the uses of this clever device include the ability to order baby toys and supplies, dim lights, play kids’ tunes and lullabies, act as a baby monitor, and tell jokes to a child. There are also several child-friendly learning assists, including quizzing toddlers on their ABCs or teaching them their colors with flashing colored lights. It can also help children from kindergarten to 8th grade complete their homework or find age-appropriate entertainment.”
While tech savvies praise the newest invention, people should take into consideration what Aristotle truly means. For instance, the fact that children won’t be getting the face-to-face interactions that they need is worrying. Behind all the bedtime stories and lullabies lies an organic bonding ritual between kids and parents.
Paediatrician Dipesh Navsaria says: “A baby awakening in the night needs more than smoke-and-mirrors ‘soothing’ from a machine. They need the nuanced judgment of a loving caregiver, to decide when the child needs care and nurturing and when the child should be allowed to soothe themselves.”
There also possible long-term effects of children becoming emotionally attached to a robot. Robb Fujioka, Mattel’s chief of product officer, admits: “Honestly speaking, we just don’t know. If we’re successful, kids will form some emotional ties to this. Hopefully, it will be the right types of emotional ties.”
Aristotle also stores information about children. It can track “babies’ feeding, sleeping, and changing patterns, stores and analyzes that data, and prompts parents to buy diapers, formula, and other products from its corporate partners”, according to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Consequently, this data can be shared with other corporations and used to target parents and kids with marketing.
Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, notes: “Companies that offer Internet-connected toys are simply spying on young children. And they can’t even protect the data they secretly gather. They have already lost passwords and personal data and exposed families to ransomware demands. Toys that spy are unsafe for children.”