Mattel's parenting takeover continues with Alexa-like dystopia

www.theregister.co.uk | 1/3/2017 | Staff
Click For Photo: https://regmedia.co.uk/2015/02/18/helllo_barbie.jpg?x=1200&y=794

Today in “what could possibly go wrong?”, the company that gave the world the infamous “Hello Barbie” now wants its Amazon Alexa look-alike in kids' bedrooms.

To wild applause from consumer gadget media, Mattel is pitching its Aristotle (with a female voice because that's how Greek philosophers roll these days) as a virtual assistant with artificial intelligence.

Parents - Bloomberg - Something - Purchase - Diapers

Designed for dystopian parents terrified of having to learn child-care themselves, the lady-Aristotle is pitched to Bloomberg as something that will “help purchase diapers, read bedtime stories, soothe infants back to sleep, and teach toddlers foreign words”.

At the same time, it's going to avoid the kind of vocabulary that made “Amazon Alexa Gone Wild” a viral hit (a misunderstanding that led to Alexa spouting porn search terms to a toddler).

Suckers - Breath - Launch - Part - US

Suckers holding their breath for the mid-year launch so they can part with US$300 for the geegaw are promised encryption between Aristotle and the various cloud services (including the obligatory app), a host of complementary products (including partnerships with retailers hoping to hitch a ride to flog nappies), and whatever else the company can think of.

If the Vulture South tone seems excessively snarky, it's because in the hothouse of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, nobody seems to be asking “hang on, didn't Mattel have trouble with Hello Barbie?”

Toy - Talk - Partnership - Mattel - Register

Developed by Toy Talk and flogged in partnership with Mattel, The Register noted at launch in February 2015 that the artificially intelligent (there's that word again) airhead sent recordings of kids' voices off to remote servers under the usual reassuring “improve your service” bromide.

Our focus at the time was security and privacy – as @munin Tweeted in 2015, “It is flat-out wrong to subject children to...
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