This Mother's Day, celebrate your mom by replacing her with a domestic AI assistant! Google just announced at its I/O developer conference that they are unleashing a new feature on Google Home that helps kids with their manners. Great. Now if the kids curse at church or in school, it's no longer "Did you learn that from your parents?" but instead, "Did the AI bot teach you that?"
The feature responds positively to children who ask it questions while saying please or thank you. So if a child asks, "OK Google, change the song, please," Google Home will change the song and respond with something along the lines of “thanks for saying please,” “thanks for asking so nicely, or “you’re very polite.”
Amazon's Alexa has a similar feature they are rolling out called "magic word." Clearly this was an issue in the AI world that I was not privy to because I have neither an AI home assistant or children. I do have manners, however, and the times I've been around children using these home helpers have always been a bit jarring. Not only is it weird to yell at a tiny robot and tell them to play "the song from Frozen" over and over again, it gives these kids a sense of authority they don't necessarily deserve. Also, whenever there's been more than one child in a room with an Alexa or Google Home, it's just an eventual countdown toward a yelling match of who can get the AI's attention.
While Google Home and Alexa both say they will reinforce politeness and manners, nothing indicates that there are any repercussions for bad behavior. In my opinion, the thing should shut down or freeze if a kid continually barks orders at it. Or perhaps "the Frozen song" cannot be played if the AI detects two kids shouting over one another. If a kid calls the AI stupid or an screams at it too much, it should hack into the mainframe with all the information it's illegally collected on the kid and make sure they don't get into college. Just a thought.
Anyways, moms, try setting up a Google Home this Sunday and helping yourself a tall glass of whatever wine drowns out the yapping sounds of your children.