AI-powered Hello Barbie riles privacy advocates

Occurred: February 2015-

Can you improve this page?
Share your insights with us

Mattel's Hello Barbie doll uncessarily exposed children to the commercial exploitation of their data, according to childhood advocates and privacy experts.

Developed by Mattel and technology partner ToyTalk and billed as 'the first fashion doll that can have a two-way conversation with girls,' the WiFi-enabled Hello Barbie was equipped with a microphone, voice recognition and 'progessive learning features' and was programmed with 8,000 lines of dialogue. 

However, childhood and privacy experts took issue with ToyTalk's privacy policy, which the company to listen to and process kids' conversations 'in order to provide and maintain the Service, to perform, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, or for other research and development and data analysis purposes.'

Experts also took issue with algorithms replacing human actions. 'Computer algorithms can’t replace - and should not displace - the nuanced responsiveness of caring people interacting with one another,' according to pediatrician Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MD, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.


Operator: Mattel/ToyTalk
Developer: Mattel/ToyTalk
Country: USA
Sector: Consumer goods
Purpose: Interact with children
Technology: Voice recognition; NLP/text analysis
Issue: Privacy