Conjecturing about the imminent robot revolution isn't even fun anymore. You don't have to make things up, because the robots are settling in all over the place and reality is outgunning fiction every day.
To wit: A new children's toy proposes to let your wee ones grow up with their own A.I. companion - an Internet-connected playmate that can "evolve, learn and grow" with each child.
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The CogniToys project from Elemental Path is an outgrowth of the IBM Watson Mobile App Developer Challenge. Watson, you may recall, is the artificial intelligence that competed on Jeopardy and is now a ginormous research initiative with hundreds of different applications.
The mobile app contest is designed to give developers access to Watson's massive cognitive computing system via the Internet. Further highlighting the story's sci-fi elements, the prototype version of the toy was extruded on 3-D printers for testing with focus groups.
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Robot rebellion jokes aside, the CogniToys dinosaur project is an ambitious foray into the busy "smart toys" arena. The toy - a cuddly green dinosaur for now - uses Watson's cutting-edge natural language processing to converse with kids, creating a unique personality over time based on interaction. Custom modules can be downloaded for educational play, including spelling, vocabulary and math. Age range for the first model is 4 to 7 years old.
The CogniToys campaign is now up and running on Kickstarter (where it's doing quite nicely, thank you) with an eye toward commercial production in November. If all goes well, your pre-schooler could be scheming with a global artificial intelligence by this time next year. What could possibly go wrong?