Home Technology Embodied’s AI robot Moxie designed for kids – with limits

Embodied’s AI robot Moxie designed for kids – with limits

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Embodied’s AI robot Moxie designed for kids – with limits

Artificial intelligence could become your child’s new best friend. California-based Embodied has created Moxie – a robot companion designed to support social, emotional and cognitive development in children ages 5 to 10.

While AI can often feel mysterious, Moxie – with its blue body and big, curious eyes – provides a tangible application of the fast-growing technology, to the tune of $799. Outfitted with sensors, microphones and a camera, the robot uses play-based exercises to help children learn how to identify and better manage their emotions.

With kids experiencing increasing feelings of loneliness, especially after being isolated during the pandemic, the company announced it created Moxie so the next generation could have a trusted friend to help with those anxieties.

CEO and founder Paolo Pirjanian, a former NASA scientist, said talking to Moxie is very different than an AI chatbot. “93% of our communication is nonverbal, is body language, intonation of voice, facial expressions. Moxie has those capabilities. So it’s very different AI than what we see in the mainstream right now.”

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One concern is children could bond too much with Moxie, foregoing real human interaction. To prevent that, Embodied has implemented use limits.

Artificial intelligence could become your child’s new best friend. California based Embodied has created Moxie – a robot companion designed to support social, emotional and cognitive development in children ages 5 to 10. (Embodied / Fox News)

“The whole goal is to teach skills that are going to improve the kid’s day-to-day life, so we actually have activities where Moxie will help a child practice,” Rachel Baynes, the head of clinical research for Embodied, shared. “Like, ‘How do you make a friend? Let’s think of some questions together.’ But then, the next activity is Moxie encouraging the child to go and use those skills.”

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Embodied is also taking a very conservative approach to content. Not every parent has the same level of comfort with their child learning about certain topics, so the company has built guardrails around anything that could be sensitive. In the future, though, parents will have the option to select what topics Moxie can and cannot address.

That conservative approach also applies to data privacy as well.

Little girl on iPad while sitting on couch

Not every parent has the same level of comfort with their child learning about certain topics, so the company has built guardrails around anything that could be sensitive. In the future, though, parents will have the option to select what topics Moxi (Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Security and privacy is paramount for us. We encrypt everything we do and then destroy that information,” said CTO Mario Munich. “We probably took the strongest position, but we are dealing with children.”

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The plan is to eventually expand to other populations, like the elderly, to address loneliness and cognitive decline. Embodied predicts in the foreseeable future, everyone will have an AI companion.

Elon Musk

As AI use grows, so does the fear of catastrophe. Industry leaders, including Elon Musk and the Embodied CEO, recently signed a letter calling for a six-month pause in development. Pirjanian asserts it’s not the technology that will cause harm, but t (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo / Reuters Photos)

However, as AI use grows, so does the fear of catastrophe. Industry leaders, including Elon Musk and the Embodied CEO, recently signed a letter calling for a six-month pause in development. Pirjanian asserts it is not the technology that will cause harm, but the intent behind it.

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“AI can save the world. But it’s so powerful that in the wrong hands, it can also destroy many things,” Pirjanian said. “If it takes pausing for a little while to think through the consequences, then so be it. As a business person, I would rather not have to do that. But ethics has to trump that.”

His solution?

“We must build better humans.”

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