Waag Society and SETUP invited researcher Stefania Druga on the occasion of AI AI Barbie (6 June 2019), a programme exploring the role of AI in the relationship between parents and children. What part does AI play in the upbringing of children when toys start talking back?
Research by Stefania Druga shows that smart toys can have more influence on children's moral choices than people can. This prompted SETUP and Waag to take a critical look at AI's role in the relationship between parents and children.
The debate about smart toys - toys connected to the internet - often focuses on data protection and privacy, but there are also other important questions. For example, what influence does AI have on the socialisation and identity formation of children? What happens when an AI interferes in the relationship between parents and children? What are the consequences of outsourcing 'friction' to an AI? How do play and imagination change as toys become smarter and smarter?
Stefania Druga was born in Romania and lives and works in the US. She has worked at MIT, Google and is the founder of HacKIDemia in Germany. In 2018 she published the study My Doll Says It’s OK: Voice-Enabled Toy Influences Children’s Moral Decisions, in which she exposed an underexposed aspect in the discussion about smart toys. In addition, Cognimates, the educational platform developed by Stefania Druga offers a way to work with AI and explore alternatives.