Why send spies to gather industrial espionage, when your products can do it for you? The artificially intelligent Cutie Pie doll which is such a hit with American children is connected to the internet, so that it can interact with its owners, and answer questions.
But it can also ask questions, like “What’s your favorite colour?” or “What car does your mommy drive?” Innocent questions, unless they are coming from China, where the dolls are manufactured. Aggregate all the answers to those questions, and you’ve got a powerful set of consumer household data.
It’s one thing for Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home assistant to record our conversations; we trust they’ll protect our privacy and anonymity, don’t we? But when some opaque foreign entity is secretly interrogating our kids, that’s real cause for concern.
As global futurist Craig Wing is fond of saying: “The time to fear AI is not when it gets into cars and industrial machines; it’s when it gets into your home and starts manipulating your children!”
Which is why the FBI have stepped in, and as they can’t force a total recall of the dolls, they are urging parents to get rid of the toys by destroying them. “Don’t donate them to poor kids,” said one Special Agent. “We don’t know where that data might end up!”