Interesting read, thanks for the article.
I loved Teddy in AI (the movie), I think he was a magnificent example of one possible future for machine learning and cultural engagement with our own.
I suspect you are on the money in regards to childrens’ engagement helping, but I also worry about the negative implications — after all, conversation is a two way street.
For example, I get very frustrated using Siri, which I quite enjoy using and find generally very useful. I find my voice rising and my demeanor getting angrier whenever she interprets a word or direction other than my intent, and stop myself just like I would any individual — but does everyone? I don’t like the future implications of allowing myself to train into “being angry at the machine” so it’s a conscious decision for me, but I suspect for many it is an idea completely disregarded, or even actively countered as “it’s just a machine, I’m going to yell at it like kicking a car tyre”. Regardless, the frustration is really rooted in user experience and the efficacy of the system, and has little to do with the perceived “other” of Siri, and that’s hard to remember.
Recently something bugged out a bit on my phone, and Siri’s voice changed pitch some. I was not a fan, I felt like someone had taken my old friend away and replaced it without my consultation. There’s plenty of interesting ramifications in there, too.
I’m rambling, as I love to do, but thanks again for your article, I look forward to more, and to having my own Teddy one day in hopefully not too distant a future.