Artificial Intelligence

  • Posted on Jul 23, 2018

When my daughter was a toddler she asked to be picked up to look inside the cuckoo clock that was hung in our kitchen. When I asked her why, she told me that she wanted to see the furniture inside. I turned back to the sink where dishes were waiting to be rinsed as I explained that there was no furniture but instead  just the mechanical workings of the clock.  She was not swayed. She put her hands on her hips and stared at me. “It’s a house and there is windows…of course there is furniture inside.”

Younger children often can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. We are not helping…  With the introduction of devices like Alexa and Siri, children are interacting with artificial intelligence and thinking it is a real person. Parents are already expressing concerns when they see a younger child throwing out orders and Alexa readily complies. Unfortunately, not everyone else does….and this leads to some confusion.

David Hill, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics council on communication and media, says that children believe that Alexa could be a small woman inside the machine. They view these assistants as trustworthy and friendly. Psychologists worry that the children may prefer these devices to humans. You can see the problem…  And like my daughter, you’re unlikely to convince these little kids that there is not an actual person inside. They know better.  Curiously, even older children and adults find it easy to confide in these devices. Alexa, after all, does not judge….  It’s really a huge experiment and we’re going to find out what type of an effect artificial intelligence has on our kids. Keep watching- I know I will!

Susan Badaracco MD, pediatrician and author of “The Oath” series

Translate »