Coming soon: An artificially intelligent Barbie that will talk to kids about bullying, jealousy, and God

Barbie doll
(Image credit: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Thanks to artificial intelligence, Barbie may soon be way more than just a doll. Mattel has teamed up with ToyTalk to transform the plastic toy into a girl with the personality and conversational abilities to make her the "perfect friend." Barbie will have more than 8,000 lines of dialogue at her disposal that have been mapped out according to conversations that creators think kids might have with the doll. The New York Times offers some examples:

"'Do you believe in God?' a kid might ask.'I think a person's beliefs are very personal to them,' Barbie might reply, Wulfeck said.'I'm getting bullied in school.''That’s sounds like something you should talk to a grown-up about.''Do you think I'm pretty?'[...] Of course you’re pretty, but you know what else you are?' Barbie would reply. 'You're smart, talented and funny.'" [The New York Times]

It gets more advanced: Barbie will also be able to remember information from previous conversations to bring up later. "She should always know that you have two moms and that your grandma died, so don't bring that up, and that your favorite color is blue, and that you want to be a veterinarian when you grow up," ToyTalk's Sarah Wulfeck told The New York Times.

But some are worried that because children can't distinguish between artificial intelligence and actual human life as well as adults can, "children will engage not just socially but morally with these robots," University of Washington psychology professor Peter Kahn told the Times. "In small doses, it just doesn't matter, of course... But the way the world is going, these are not just going to become small, isolated technologies in a child's life. They are becoming a pervasive form of interaction."

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Mattel's original release date was set for November 2015, but, as of February, the Times reports that Barbie's script had not yet been written.

Read the full article at The New York Times.

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