I remember a while back I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about what joys would ensue if we could “Okay Google” parenting. But the truth is, we are already living in a world where technology and parenting are becoming increasingly intertwined. It may sound crazy to say, but did you know that artificial intelligence is already assisting parenting?
It’s impossible to refute that we are living in a growing age of artificial intelligence, data science and machine vision systems. The generation born between 2010 and 2025 is expected to grow in the era of AI, where it will play a vital role in the day to day activities of this generation. Robots are expected to read bedtime stories, and cars will become autonomous to take them from place to place without even needing to learn how to drive – excellent news for the school run!
Although this may seem far fetched, is it expected that infants and toddlers will have recreational AI devices which will help in raising them. According to a survey, 40% of the parents said that they would like to replace a human nanny with a robot.
That said, Kuri is a robot developed recently, that can navigate itself in the home and has the capability to tell bed time stories to kids.
Aristotle – a digital assistant – was recently developed, which detects the baby waking up, and helps soothes the child back to sleep by playing a lullaby. Could this possibly mean the end of sleep deprivation for new parents? Imagine the elation across the land at the prospect of uninterrupted sleep!
Moving on to older children, a tiny robot called the Albert Einstein has been developed based on AI, to help students in their science and maths understanding with the help of interactive games. This AI-based robot can answer educational questions as well as chat with kids about food, weather, games and celebrities etc. Parents having to sheepishly admit that they have no idea about their children’s homeworkwill collectively be breathing a big old sigh of relief!
AI-based toys have built-in cameras and voice recognition capabilities to help parents raise their kids more efficiently. Meanwhile, a robot named Milo has been developed for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder to help them improve social and verbal skills.
The list goes on! An AI based App, Muse was recently developed which uses big data to help parents raise more creative and intelligent kids. It helps parents to plan what they can do to raise their child in a better way. It offers activities tailored to the individual child that are focused on skills development, problem-solving and memory enhancement.
A study was conducted recently by IEEE in 2019, in which the parents of recent times were observed revealed that around 80% parents showed trust in AI-based surgical robots to perform surgeries on their child. More than 50% of the parents were comfortable with their child having a 3D printed heart if needed. Around 50% of the parents said that they felt comfortable to leave their child with an AI-based virtual nurse at a hospital.
With the growing penetration of AI in our next generation’s lives, is this something we need to see as right around the corner rather than some crazy futuristic notion? If that is indeed the case, the strength and scope of AI should be understood and managed carefully.
As with other types of technology (read smartphones too), parents should lead their children’s way into AI, rather than just let it be something that accidentally enters their life without due diligence. A child’s brain cannot set limits for them, and this is yet another area where parents will have to step in as guardian and play their part.
Raising children is an emotion-based responsibility that can never be replaced by technology. Although on paper, the above developments may sound exciting, the darker side means that too much reliance on technology may suppress parent’s natural instincts.
In future years, we will all need to be mindful that AI should only be used just as an assistive tool to improve parenting rather than replacing it completely. And trust me, this is not as far away as you think it might be.