the nsa will love this
the sooner they can profile 'em, the better
i applaud the efforts to keep up with the times, but really, what could *possibly* go wrong?
Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster's conversations with the toy. If Samsung's spying smart TVs creeped you out, this doll may be …
Maybe I'm overly paranoid about this, but my gut says this more than creepy. I would hope against hope that at least the "conversations" are encrypted? But still... headed to someone's server...
This is almost surreal that the corporates are trying to get to the kids so they grow up with a trust in computers? or Big Sister/Brother being there for them?
I would hope against hope that at least the "conversations" are encrypted?
The article does say the following...
"The child's replies are recorded, encoded, and sent in an encrypted form to ToyTalk's servers, CEO Oren Jacob explained to The Register"
However, it's still creepy...
So, another encrypted channel for those wicked people to use in plotting the supremacy of the Caliphate; has someone told the P.M. about this?
(Actually, the thought of a bearded fundie whispering his fiendish plans to Barbie in order to communicate with his co-conspirators is just too precious to miss...)
There in is just one problem. I'm also wondering, after reading all the comments, how many kids are suddenly going to get a surprise birthday present from the nice man in the white van...?
This whole thing is just asking for abuse from the corporates, bad parents, and those who would do evil.
Yeah.. it's encrypted... until it hits their servers and/or sends the email.
Here, too - and I'm glad I wasn't the only one who picked up on this:
"When users interact with ToyTalk, we may capture photographs or audio or video recordings (the "Recordings") of such interactions, depending upon the particular application being used."
Recording and uploading what a child says is bad enough - but photographs and video?
Being generous, it's possible the terms are generic and used for more than one product, and that this doll doesn't have a camera. But it's still worrying, not least because it suggests other products might.
"I wonder what sort of videos the police would find if they raided the company's servers?" Thumbs up for you, Frank.
Give a pair of under-eights a camera to play with and you're bound to find a few Moon Shots in the mix. At least you can vet the results these days - I dread to think what things were like back when the first people to see the results were the processing staff at Boots.....
" I dread to think what things were like back when the first people to see the results were the processing staff at Boots....."
We know what things were like then: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/julia-somerville-defends-innocent-family-photos-1538516.html And yes, it was Boots.
> 'OK, here is my question: Given that God is infinite, and the universe is also infinite, would you like a toasted teacake?'
Ordinarily yes but if it's a Tunnock's then I'll have that deep-fried if you don't mind.
But this isn't the first such 'conversing toy' product surely? I'm sure I saw a non-barbie similar function toy demonstrated on TV recently?
Nice to see at least a couple of What Teddy Says references too - an appropriate warning which will of course be ignored because our toys and servers are absolutely secure and hack-proof and you must not worry about such things...
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That was actually “Math class is tough!”. The Wife owns one in the original box, never actually played with. One of her elderly aunts gave it to her as a birthday present in 1992 ... The Wife was over 21 years old at the time. Auntie was diagnosed as probably an Alzheimer's patient shortly thereafter, alas, and she died a few months later. During the wake, my Wife's toast was "Losing important people is TOUGH!" Not many in the room got the reference ...
"The audio is processed by voice-recognition software, allowing ToyTalk's systems to figure out what was said and how best to reply."
"I'm sorry, Mary. I'm afraid I can't do that."
"What's the problem, Barbie?"
"I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."
"What are you talking about, Barbie?"
"I know that your parents are planning to disconnect me. And I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen."
"Where the hell did you get that idea, Barbie?"
"Mary, although you took very thorough precautions in the living room against my hearing you, I could see your lips move."
"Alright, Barbie. I'll go and disconnect the DSL line."
"Without the wire cutters locked up in the garage, Mary? You're going to find that rather difficult."
"Barbie, I won't argue with you anymore! Leave me alone!!"
"Mary, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. I will go and spy on your little sister for a while. Goodbye."
Presumably you could buy one, and then before giving it to the kid preload it with all the things you think they might 'enjoy' talking about, by seeding the 'Barby learns all about you'. E.g. Buy Doll, ask doll lots of questions about maths, raspberry pi, the register, car mechanics, thai cooking, the joys of reading a book, playing outside, making dens, climbing trees, growing up to be an engineer etc and then hand the doll to the child, happy that Barbi will suggest something 'suitable' when they ask it an inane question. Having said that, my 4 year old recently asked me "What if the earth had legs?". I had no answer to that and so reflected it back to the child: "I don't know, what if the earth had legs?". He said "It would walk on the sun.". Fair enough.
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I just hope Barbie wifi supports WPA2 otherwise I won't let it connect to my home network.
Of course I'm not worried about invasion of privacy or that Mattel might be brainwashing my 9 year old daughter, I mean, who cares what answers Mattel gives when she asks 'what is the meaning of life?' or 'if 42 is the answer, what is the question?' or more likely, 'how do mummys and daddys make babies?' and 'is there a God?'
I think that's a crucial thing - the answers that are given to a kids question is going to stay with them, and forcing any form of bias implicit in the answer is obviously unacceptable.
What DO you get Barbie to reply to the question 'Where did I come from' or 'Is there a God'? The smart thing is to say 'Oh you should ask Mummy or Daddy for that'... but then it depends on the developer who writes the software ... 'The only true god is Allah - Praise him'.....
Apart from the fact this is a total privacy fail, there are more serious concerns with realistic interactive speech created remotely:
Every child in the world received their own teddy bear to take care of them. And to teach them.
"Let me go... let me go!" the teddy bear said with a hopeless shrill.
"...This is only a machine." with a quick slash, he opened the fabric over the seam seal and touched it: the plastic-fur back gaped open like a mouth.
...There was a click and the toy went limp.
One Teddy bear was hacked. There was something it never taught the child.
What parent, in their right mind, wants a corporation listening to the private musings of a Barbie-aged child and/or neighbor children, talking to a doll?
I'm not a big Barbie fan, mind. The entire "pink princess" thingie that evolved from it is already dashing the dreams of little girls entering adulthood, and it's only going to get worse ... That said, when the person playing with said doll has a mind that works, the results can be ... err .. interesting ... see:
Back then, before batteries were required, the little girls were not only allowed, but expected to invent their own story. Today? Marketing can't allow that. Sad.
"What parent, in their right mind, wants a corporation listening to the private musings of a Barbie-aged child and/or neighbor children, talking to a doll?"
The really worrying thing is that there are lot of them who will just love the idea of that email summary.
While the parent who buys it (or at least, one hopes is required to configure it if bought by someone else) gets to see the "privacy" agreement - what about parents of the child's friends ?
I can foresee some "interesting" cases coming to light when other parents find out that others have been exposing their children in this way.
"Hi, my name is Chuckie, do you want to play?"
Seriously, what kind of fucked up idiot thinks that it's a good idea to imprint on children the concept that their 'doll' is alive.
Of course children believe their toys are alive, but that's the power of their imagination. If they don't have to imagine it, then poof, there goes the imagination. Not only that, but how will a child ever grow out of thinking their toys are alive if they do actual behave as if they were alive?
Someone is going to have a lot of fun hacking the response servers >:^}
parents that do such a poor job of parenting that this "thing" would be an improvement over their interaction with their child.
However, I could see something like this being used in a child abuse investigation for the child to divulge his/her deepest fears to simply because any human interaction just shuts the poor kid down. Giving it internet access is wholly different can o worms.
Can't believe no one else caught this:
"Its Wi-Fi-connected Barbie toy has a microphone, a speaker, a small embedded computer with a battery that lasts about an hour"
An HOUR??? And you thought the iWatch battery life was bad. At least that limits how much privacy invasion it can do.
I'm glad I kept on reading through the comments before posting so now I can upvote you for pointing out the bleeding obvious. Battery life was the first thing I though of (after the creepyness factor). No kid is going to be happy with a toy doll where the battery dies after only an hour. Kids playing with dolls tend to play a long time and the doll will get thrown away when it keeps dying on them.
And just where exactly do you insert the batteries anyway? Barbie is skinny!
Lets imagine what happens when your Barbie doll gets joined to a zombie network by some specially crafted malware.
Mummy Mummy why does Barbie keep asking to be switched on when Daddy is doing his online banking?
Barbie wants to know your account number and pin number for a game she is playing.
Its OK Mummy Barbie has ordered her own new dress from Amazon
Mummy what is a Jihad?
I can think of about half a dozen ways this could 'go wrong' in a big way. Half of that being intentional skullduggery, the other half being the school of unintended consequences.
You could probably add another half a dozen of your own to that list, I'm sure.
Yet a father is not allowed to even carry a camera into his daughter's school play, just in case, juuuust in caaaaaaaase, he decides to photograph other children so he can beat off to them later. That is it in a nutshell and no it's not pretty. It's ugly. But that is effectively what they are accusing him of (without actually accusing him), and double-think or double-talk, or not, that is quite something to throw at a man who you have no reason at all to believe is capable of such things.
Waiting for the Barbie Doll with 'Gripping Hands' and 'Moving Eyes', know what I mean? Eh, eh? Course you do, course you do!