Machine learning,Natural language processing,Christmas,Toy

Caution: AI And Big Data Reaches Our Kids' Christmas Toys

December 22, 2016
in Kids

Not to be a Grinch or a Scrooge, but you’d better watch out when it comes to some of this season’s hottest Christmas toys. Last year, I wrote about Mattel’s Hello Barbie, which responds realistically to your child by using natural language processing, machine learning and advanced analytics to parse what a child says and respond accordingly. In order to do this, the toy has to record what the child says, send it to a cloud-based server, and receive instructions back. On Barbie, there’s a “listen” button the child has to press to start recording what she says in order to get a response. Mattel claims that only they and their tech partner (currently) have access to these recordings, but with the newest generation of talking toys, the audience is a bit larger. In fact, advocacy groups have filed a complaint with the FCC that some of this season’s hottest toys, including My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot, are violating children’s privacy. That’s because these toys are constantly in listening mode — much like Siri and Alexa on our phones — and sending it to Nuance Communications, a speech recognition...

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