With the help of A.I., America’s most famous doll tries to fulfill a timeless dream — convincing little girls that she’s a real friend. What will happen if they believe her?
In-depth article in the New York Times earlier last week about the launch of an AI augmented Barbie, scheduled for November this year.
‘Yay, you’re here!’’ Barbie said eagerly. ‘‘This is so exciting. What’s your name?’’
‘‘Ariana,’’ the girl said.
‘‘Fantastic,’’ Barbie said. ‘‘I just know we’re going to be great friends.’’
“For adults, this new wave of everyday A.I. is nowhere near sophisticated enough to fool us into seeing machines as fully alive. That is, they do not come close to passing the ‘‘Turing test,’’ the threshold proposed in 1950 by the British computer scientist Alan Turing, who pointed out that imitating human intelligence well enough to fool a human interlocutor was as good a definition of ‘‘intelligence’’ as any. But things are different with children, because children are different. Especially with the very young, ‘‘it is very hard for them to distinguish what is real from what is not real,’’ says Doris Bergen, a professor of educational psychology at Miami University in Ohio who studies play. The penchant to anthropomorphize — to believe that inanimate objects are to some degree humanlike and alive — is in no way restricted to the young, but children, who often favor magical thinking over the mundane rules of reality, have an especially rich capacity to believe in the unreal.”
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(picture Jamie Chung for The New York Times)