|Picture (c) Elemental Path|
He was talking about Elemental Path's new line of smart toys for children which will be powered by IBM Watson (the same machine intelligence that won the quiz show Jeopardy), and which the company says will enable the toys to hold meaningful conversations with children, and to evolve with a child as he or she grows.
There's an article on the toys here and the project can be found on Kickstarter if you want to buy one.
It's easy to get this sort of thing out of proportion, and to start sounding like an old person. But (crazy idea) why not encourage kids to go out and talk to other children instead?
The toy is intended to contain specific educational content, and I'm probably overthinking things again, but who gets to decide what content? Will the Jesuits release their version? Do you get to pick the world view of your toy (libertarian, creationist, objectivist etc) or are they all plain old liberal secularists?
I can see some potential therapeutic uses for the toys (with autistic children for example), but beyond that it feels like a bad idea. I admit I bought my kids a Furby when they came out, but the thing about Furbies is that they were endearingly rubbish. These toys have the potential to be just too good: childminder, pacifier, teacher, friend...
Note: according to the article, none of the founders of the company is a parent.