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Specifications:

– A webcam or child monitor
– A speaker that chats back and forth
– LED colored lights
– Artificial Intelligence: Microsoft Cognitive Services, Cortana, Silk Labs
– Meant for: toddlers to pre-teen
– If This Then That (IFTT) platform
– Controlled Zingbee and Bluetooth devices
– COPPA compliance to ensure privacy
– Price: $249

Mattel is the company that gave us amazing childhood wonders like Barbie, Hot wheels, Monster High, Thompson and Friends, Fisher Price, etc. At CES 2017, Mattel unveiled something that might be a bad news for nannies out there. In collaboration with Microsoft and Qualcomm, Mattel is about to bring us Digital Nanny ,or ‘Aristotle’ as they are calling it, to look after kids and help them learn early childhood behavior and assist development at various stages.



This is a first of its kind and is meant at aiding working parents. The Aristotle will consist of a webcam or a baby monitor and a cylindrical speaker fitted with Artificial Intelligence that will chat back and forth with kids. They come with Colored LEDs embedded deep inside to help change colors in response to question and work as night lights.

The big question, however, that keep looming is should we allow a machine to take over the work of a highly experienced person in childcare as we have done with all other tasks? Yes, you will be leaving your child in the care of a machine but the device will have a much vast array of intelligence to help your child develop.

Yes

1. Growth and development: The artificial intelligence will be able to able to answer questions accurately and with precise understanding of how to teach a child of a particular age which is not something most nannies are trained with. In the initial years, children are more apt at learning new things that they remember if well explained. This will prepare them for later on.

2. Curiosity: Children are curious. They ask a lot of questions and want the answer. When nannies don’t know the accurate answer, they make up tales to stop the child from questioning any further. This wouldn’t be the case with Aristotle. The digital nanny will quench children’s thirst for getting their questioned answer and that too with the best accuracy any nanny could provide.

3. Preset commands: Parents can decide what Aristotle will do when the baby cries. It can sing lullaby pre-recorded by parents or let the child cry and learn to stop on its own as decided by parents who will be notified whenever the child cries. This way parents will not have to worry about what their child is doing at home or if the nanny went to sleep leaving their child unattended.

4. Learning languages: Aristotle can work as a language teacher too. It is proven that in the early days of child’s growth and development, they are the easiest to teach new languages. Digital nanny can be set in a way that it will only interact with the child in that specific language at a set hour so that the children learn on the go.

No

1. What about parenting? Your baby cries, you buy him a play toy. The next time he cries, we buy him a video game. Next comes baby tablets, computer and now a digital nanny that will calm and soothe your crying child, teach him to say ‘please’ while you are spending lesser and lesser time bonding with your toddler. Don’t be surprised if one fine day your child calls Aristotle ‘cool mommy’ or ‘super daddy’ for technology is replacing a lot of things.

2. It is a machine: And it can shut down! What happens when your Wi-Fi isn’t working or when the machine experiences a glitch while you are assured that your child is sound asleep? Children shouldn’t be left alone only at the hands of let’s say brains of a machine. Aristotle won’t know if your baby is crying because of colic or if he hurt himself. All that it will do is play lullaby and dim the lights.

3. Too much of machine dependence: There are many a ways in which our childhood was better than our children’s. We played outdoors more often. We could explore the neighborhood on our own. We as parents are more dependent on machines and so are our progeny. They don’t want to go exploring the neighborhood because we told them it could be unsafe. They are mostly at home surrounded by machines to play with. A digital nanny would just be a major step in the wrong direction.

4. Privacy and security: Yes, the company claims complete privacy and security but there are always hackers who are way ahead in cracking all firewalls and reaching out to places we thought are secure. This alone is enough of a reason to not let children stay home alone with a digital nanny.

The artificial intelligence device is top notch. It comes with all state of art features to help children learn and develop. But leaving children alone with an AI device is still too much of risk. There has to be a living, breathing human to keep an eye on children. Parenting isn’t an issue that can be sorted out with advanced machines and technology. This device along with the assistance of a person can be ideal.

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