Friday, September 28, 2007

Fisher-Price Little Mommy

Fisher-Price Little Mommy
Taking a step out of ... my usual things for a bit. This robotdoll is the next big thing from Fisher Price.
Girls can choose and record a name for their very own Real Loving Baby and the doll will actually recognize and respond to her name

I was chatting with a friend, and we have agreed that this is ripe for misuse. Well, we'll see.

There's a saying regarding hosting a session -- Don't ever ask a question you don't already know the answer to [sic]. Any ability to record free form information is an opportunity to fill that vacancy with any nonsense at all. In some cases, that even includes buffer overflow vulnerabilities for your favorite Operating System and Office Suite.

In the case of this robotdoll, I'd consider the ramifications of populating the name variable with any value.

Nonetheless, the concept of this robotdoll gives me the creeps. At $60 MSRP, it's a slight discount from the $99 MSRP of Microsoft's ActiMates, but it uses the same concepts of social dynamics; almost as if it came from a textbook. In fact, if you really want to see the truth of art imitating art, check out this article from 1999:
"When I hear Barney say, 'You're my special friend' -- that's a disingenuous statement," said Allen Cypher, a founder of Stagecast Software, which designs children's programs. "It's a fraudulent claim. It deceives kids into believing that Barney has some emotional attachment to them, and that's not true." Other panelists worried about Barney's "authoritarian tone," or that he discouraged imaginative play. And some said that, while Barney himself was basically harmless, he may be a harbinger of worse to come: an interactive Cartman from "South Park," perhaps, spewing expletives and insulting his owner.

And one member of the audience asked if a child could take Barney apart and "reprogram him to say, 'Please slap me.' "

"These products are designed to prevent that," Strommen said.

When will "These products" no longer be designed to prevent that? It may be sooner than you think. It probably is on your local toy shelf today.

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