As part of our group’s presentation on AI I began researching into Toys and Games that incorporate AI systems in their design. While I was reaching I came across an interesting book written by an MIT professor science and technology professor who has studied the relationship between children and their electronic pets and computer toys over three generations. In the book titled “A Study Guide for Psychologists and Their Theories for Students” Professor Sherry Turkle explains, children that play with “computer toys” have “a tendency to see computers systems as sort of alive.” She explains that she first began to notice this trend in the 1990’s with emergence of virtual pets. Turkle says she saw “a blurring of boundaries with the toys that require an interaction that necessitates some form of nurturance from the child.” There is a form of mutual recognition and the children want to know how they can make the toy happy.
Another old toy the Furbie, added a new dimension by involving conversation. Turkle says this added an element of companionship and she says that some children “reflect their emotional attachments to the toys and their fantasies that the toys might be emotionally attached to them. As AI infused toys continue to rapidly evolve and become more popular, researchers are just begging to ask how these new AI infused toys will affect the psychological processes of children.
After reading through parts of this book I began to think about of some the ethical implications of AI infused toys. Considering the potential for psychological harm, one question that I thought was interesting was whether or not the government should require business to do some form of testing to determine the psychological safety of their products before they are sold to public. In my opinion it will be necessary in the future require new laws, but at the moment I think that the technology is has not advanced to the point where it has the capability to have serious psychological impact. I believe that the trends will continue and people will become more emotionally attached to their AI infused toys.