Parents want the best for their children. While the goal is apparent, figuring out how to do it is challenging. Parents want their kids to be healthy, happy, secure, smart, sociable, smart, athletic, etc. That is a lot to do considering that they have to balance it out based on how quality time they can make for their child, how much resources they can put in to child development, meeting socio-economic needs, etc. With everyone turning to artificial intelligent assistants for help, could there be an AI digital assistant for parents doing one of the most human of things: raising their children? Surprisingly, there is a lot of work going on to do exactly this.
To being with, there is Muse, a mobile app powered by AI, that helps parents develop traits that predict better life outcomes like emotional intelligence, self-control, and persistence. In effect, Muse is providing support to parents to their children be more resilient humans. While there has been a massive focus on the field of artificial empathy, it is not a substitute for real human connection. Even with the success of AI empathic solutions like Cryano.ai or rAInbow, people still need that connection with other people. Recognizing this, Muse focuses its efforts on helping parents by focusing on a different question each day. The questions are designed to help develop different traits, but it is the parents who determine the best way to answer the question. For example, the question might be: has your child eaten a serving of a new food today? The parents can decide which is the best new food try. Thus, Muse is not providing directions or decisions, rather, they are trying to help parents understand on what things to focus on.
Then, there is Bosco, another mobile app powered by AI, which models a child’s behavioral profile and assists parents in identifying and preventing digital threats to a child. It can be a challenge keeping up with everything a child does. Unfortunately, this challenge gets magnified when it comes to online use such as social media or just surfing the web. For a parent, this deluge of information to monitor can be overwhelming. That is why the creators of Bosco created a tool to help parents with this monitoring. Factoring in age, gender, and culture, the AI constructs an expected online behavior profile based on the child’s history of usage and personal circumstances. The goal is to identify potential red flag situations and hopefully prevent a threat to child from occurring. In effect, parents leverage Bosco as another set of “eyes and ears” for protective monitoring of their children’s digital use.
What about robots? There are a ton like BeanQ, which is an AI powered robot to help support childcare and educational learning. Kids do grow bored of toys and sometimes need constant stimulation. That is why so many companies have focused on building solutions like BeanQ to address this need. The robot provides a dynamic, interactive source of engagement (through voice activation) for a child. It is a tiny robot but designed like a toy to capture the child’s attention to facilitate the interaction. BeanQ was not designed to substitute for parents but give the child another outlet for engagement with the parents or when the parents are occupied with other activities.
However, the biggest question people have is, would AI eventually replace the need for human parents? The movie I am Mother would seem to indicate only in very extreme circumstances such as the near extinction of the human race. While there are a lot of AI solutions focused on parenting, they are really focused on giving a tool to a parent and/or child rather than trying to replace the parent. People seem to understand that there is an intrinsic nature to how children develop their social skills and that often requires to building human connections. This is one of the reasons parents are so critical to a child’s development, not just as the youngest years but throughout their entire childhood. A machine substitute would be hard pressed to replicate this level of human bonding and learning. Likewise, the parental instincts are strong. For people, these instincts are so ingrained into our basic genetics that it would be incredibly difficult to cast them aside for a machine.
When it comes to AI and parenting, vigilance is still required. There are legitimate concerns are technology reliability and privacy. Yet, there is one big concern that may not get enough attention: paralysis by analysis. As parents get more tools available for childcare, there is an increasing concern that parents maybe afraid of making mistake. As a result, they become overly reliant on the tools when making decisions about their children. Over analyzing, such as factoring very low probability scenarios, could handcuff parents from making a decision at all. Sometimes, no decision may actually be worse for a child’s development than a poor decision. As Peter Parker (aka Spiderman) once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This holds very true for parents as we get more and more AI solutions to help support our childcare needs.
Original post: https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilsahota/2020/06/22/ai-powered-parenting-entering-the-age-of-digital-childcare/#2a6c8c626c53