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Toymaker Mattel Cancels AI Babysitter After Privacy Complaints (theverge.com) 45

An anonymous reader shares a report: Toymaker Mattel has shelved plans to build an "all-in-one voice-controlled smart baby monitor," after complaints about the device were raised by privacy advocates and child psychologists. According to a report from The Washington Post, the company said in a statement that the device, named Aristotle, did not "fully align with Mattel's new technology strategy" and would not be "[brought] to the marketplace." Aristotle was unveiled back in January this year by Mattel's Nabi brand. It combined the smart speaker and digital assistant functionality of Amazon's Echo with a connected camera that acted as a baby monitor. But the Aristotle was intended to be a much more active presence in children's lives than an Echo speaker, with Mattel claiming it would read them bedtime stories, soothe them if they cried in the night, and even teach them their ABCs. A petition asking Mattel not to release the Aristotle gained more than 15,000 signatories.
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Toymaker Mattel Cancels AI Babysitter After Privacy Complaints

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  • This sounds like a godsend for some of those super lazy parents out there. To me it just sounds kinda creepy.
    • Of course it has huge privacy concerns if they don't do the security right, but I kinda want to see what the result of this would be. If you raised your child with a digital AI assistant, what kind of behavior/social patterns would they exhibit?
      • They could be clueless to non-verbal indicators. That is what makes us humans and not stupid "AI assistants". This isn't even "AI". It is just a database hooked up to a voice synthesizer. Christ. This "AI" BS needs to stop.
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Hmm lets see, getting small children accustomed to having unwavering attention and a 'presence' that is always willing to immediate drop whatever its doing an react to them....

        Sure I see that ending well.

  • Maybe they can create something like this without the cloud aspect. This seemed like a pretty cool idea.

    I sometimes leave children's bedtime music on for my baby.

    • Ya know, considering how many people complain that everything comes connected to the 'cloud' nowadays, (whether it needs it or not), you'd think someone would have started up a company that sells untethered products. Seems like there would be a market for that.
      • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )
        There isn't much of a market though. Most people (biggest market) don't care. Somebody managed to get a "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!" cry out on this one which was enough to motivate some of the drones, but that's the exception.
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        That is tough order, some of this stuff really kinda does need the cloud to do what it does.

        Yes you can do crude natural language parsing on affordable hardware these days but out a lot of storage and a huge database its hard to provide answers to generic questions. Its also hard to keep up with current information.

        I agree though there is a lot of 'gratuitously connected stuff'
        It should not require the cloud to tell my light bulbs to dim 50% or my DVR to record CBS at 6pm for 1 hour.

        • I am slowly transitioning from Wink to Homeassistant. Repairing everything is a pain but I agree the cloud is overblown for this and they have had several outages lately. I have read that smartthings has the same issues.

          I'm enjoying

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Maybe they can hook it up to the authorities who can then prosecute those who use it too much. Every bad parenting decision would be subject to over sight, hmm, I wonder how many new parents would want to be subject to outside review for each of the actions in front of the device.

  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Thursday October 05, 2017 @02:50PM (#55317239) Homepage Journal
    "Kill Mommy!"
    "Kill Mommy!"


    uhhh, no, it's saying "Quiero a mami"

  • Bummer. I was earning $50,000 a year in Silicon Valley working on this as my project. What am I supposed to do now for a job?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What am I supposed to do now for a job?

      Ask the prototype for help with your resume.

    • by gnick ( 1211984 )

      I was earning $50,000 a year in Silicon Valley... What am I supposed to do now for a job?

      Sell the cardboard box you've been living in and move the hell out of Silicon Valley. I hear there are great opportunities leasing through Uber.

  • Whiners (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Thursday October 05, 2017 @02:54PM (#55317277)

    "A petition asking Mattel not to release the Aristotle gained more than 15,000 signatories."

      It's a pretty easy fix for a product you don't like or agree with, DON'T BUY IT!

      Petition, please. Some parents may WANT to expose their children to this type of technology and you don't have the right to tell them not to.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Busybodies. We've become a nation of entitled busybodies. Even the laziest, most worthless American can find food and basic shelter, and one half a rung above them you can get a smartphone and blather self-importantly on twitter. You can literally be a functional moron and if your crackpot twitter post finds the right audience suddenly it will catch fire and people think your opinion is meaningful because 10k other morons on twitter retwittered it.
    • Petition, please. Some parents may WANT to expose their children to this type of technology and you don't have the right to tell them not to.

      Conversely, though, Mattel is under no obligation to sell said technology. While I agree that it seems idiotic to kowtow to 0.004902 percent of the population, as a private corporation, Mattel has final say on what products they offer.

      Maybe it's time to create your own AI babysitter.

      Preferably with blackjack, and hookers.

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday October 05, 2017 @03:21PM (#55317459) Journal
    Mattel: "Better not release it this year. Let's wait for next year and see if we can sneak it in."
    • Go caught what, thinking of a completely legitimate product that can succeed or fail in the marketplace on its own merits? Yeah, that damn Mattel!

      Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook know literally everything about me but that AI enabled smartcam is just a step too far! Think of the children!!! Well, someone else's children!!!

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      Mattel doesn't actually build its own electronics, they farm everything out. This isn't unusual, but back when they had a separate Mattel Electronics division, they often rebadged products they hadn't even had a hand in creating. The Aquarius [wikipedia.org] would be an example. If that was the case this time around, then they may have merely decided to cancel the contract, and you'll still see the product as soon as the manufacturer can get someone else to market it.

  • How 'bout we let the parents think of the children instead of doing it for them?

  • by killfixx ( 148785 ) * on Thursday October 05, 2017 @05:53PM (#55318443) Journal

    This certainly felt like the early form of A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

    Not that I want any corporation to be responsible for teaching my children, but having a private, custom version without relying on someone else's eyes; I'll take it.

Tomorrow's computers some time next month. -- DEC

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