The New Barbie
by Julia Robinson
Artificial intelligence technology is taking the world of toys by storm. Collaboration between companies, ToyTalk and Mattel, is developing Hello Barbie, which would be able to converse with children using the artificial intelligence technology. While Barbie will only be able to communicate 8,000 lines of dialogue, this is a huge leap from dolls that could only say a few lines from the push of a button or pull of a string. 
Communication, storing of information, and impact on the next generation are key points to artificial intelligence in Barbie. By using artificial intelligence, Barbie is able to have an actual conversation with a realistic voice. Compared to the current robotic telling of facts that many smartphones have the capability of doing, Barbie’s communication is a two way street that goes beyond simple question and answer. This presents the new idea of technology with personality that could introduce a new way of interacting with computers. Barbie can also remember key information about a child such as if a family member died, if the she has siblings, and what her favorite color is. Having a doll that can remember this information is incredible, but also discomforting in my opinion. Knowing that companies constantly collect information, I would be wary to entrust that conversations Barbie transmits to ToyTalk servers wouldn’t be hacked to steal personal information from inside a family home. In addition to hacking concerns, are concerns for the general welfare of children, our next generation of innovative leaders. For starters, since Barbie does have conversation skills, and tailors to the child’s interests, this could easily harm her ability with social interaction and friends since Barbie is easy to get along with at home. Also, Barbie has dialogue ready as opposed to traditional Barbie where children would supply both sides of the conversation. This decreases the use of imagination, which could keep them from thinking outside the box or for themselves and just follow a guideline or template of life, keeping new ideas and inventions from being recognized.
With artificial intelligence entering the world of toys, it is easy to see how integral technology is in our everyday lives. Keeping this in mind, we have to decide if we want to work towards robots that can think for themselves, or if we need to stay the ones in charge.
 Vlahos, James. "Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child." The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 17 Sept. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/magazine/barbie-wants-to-get-to-know-your-child.html?ref=technology>.