Written by Venkatesh Ramamrat
We believe Wranga is the answer to all the issues that the digital age parents are facing today. Be it screen time or overindulgence in the world of social media, experts help them to mentor their virtual experiences by informing them of the existing safety tools and also by reviewing the existing content that the kids might come across while surfing the net. As we utilise cutting edge technology including our Patented AI, for rating and review of online content, we find us in the critical position to also be involved in the impact of AI on children.
While a lot of research has been done on how AI impacts society at large, we don’t have a wealth of insights yet, on how AI could affect children and shape their future. Looking at policy in the field of AI, UNICEF has developed this policy guidance which explores AI systems, and considers the ways in which they impact children. Drawing on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the guidance offers nine requirements for child-centred AI:
- Support children’s development and well-being
- Ensure inclusion of and for children
- Prioritise fairness and non-discrimination for children
- Protect children’s data and privacy
- Ensure safety for children
- Provide transparency, explainability, and accountability for children
- Empower governments and businesses with knowledge of AI and children’s rights
- Prepare children for present and future developments in AI
- Create an enabling environment
Going forward, we need to see how technology companies and global policy makers look deeply into creating AI for all, and inculcate an ethic of child centric design.
AI, IOT, Smart Toys Market
- Global Market Insights suggest that the market value of AI in education will reach $80 billion by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 45% , from $2 Billion in 2021.
- As per World Economic Forum, by 2065, 65% of children in primary school today will work in positions that have not yet been created.
- The global market share of such connected toys with a CAGR of 26% and reach 107.02 billion USD by 2030 as per the Market Research Future group
- The State of the Connected IoT report projects 41.6 billion IoT devices will capture persons' data at a tune 79.4 Zettabytes in 2025
Unlocking the potential of AI
- Personalised Education: AI-powered learning tools and approaches are being used to monitor students' level of knowledge and learning habits, to provide a personalised approach to learning.
- Improved Cognizance: AI-based learning tools have shown to improve children’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Addressing Children with Special Needs: They have also proven helpful in improving the cognition of children with learning disabilities and the social skills of children with autism.
- Children's Health: In recent years, progress in research on the role of AI in the early detection of autism, signs of depression from children's speech and rare genetic disorders has made headlines.
- Online Safety: There are also growing examples of the deployment of AI to ensure child safety by identifying online predators and practices such as grooming and child exploitation.
Challenges to child welfare
- Parental Trust: A 2019 survey conducted by IEEE revealed that 43% of US and 33% of UK millennial parents respectively would be comfortable with leaving their children in the care of an AI-powered nurse during hospitalisation. In contrast, millennial parents in China, India and Brazil are more receptive to artificial intelligence where 88%, 83% and 63% respectively would be comfortable with a virtual nurse caring for their child in hospital.
- Privacy and Safety: Children's information including sensitive and biometric data is captured and processed by intelligent devices including virtual assistants and smart toys. In the wrong hands, such data could put children's safety at risk.
- Data concerns: Serious concerns have also been raised over the use of children's data.AI devices are collecting a lot of data while interacting with children, posing major challenges on the privacy front. The issue becomes even more severe when such devices collect biometric information, like their voice, without their consent.
- Discrimination: Other than posing a threat to privacy, civil society representatives and activists have warned against possible discrimination, bias and unfair treatment.
- Unreal Expectations: If a social bot kids interact with always answers in the affirmative, they will develop the need for always getting what they want, and fail to learn to deal with rejections. On the other hand, kids can also be mean with AI toys with no repercussions, which can further hamper their social skills development. Children have shown to regard AI devices as friendly or smart , the social assistance of a robot is thus negatively influenced by misaligned expectations.
- Cultural Context and AI bias: AI systems also have a lot of inherent biases. Without the right safeguards in place, this could mean that children get influenced by unfair systems and might develop regressive social behaviour.
Child Centric Policy and Framework Design
We are observing AI being incorporated into school curricula to equip future generations with coding skills and provide them with adequate AI training. At the same time, children lack a critical understanding of technology and are not really aware of the threats and opportunities that go along with it. Though there is a considerable effort and dialogue in the Global North , Wranga leads the effort to be inclusive of all children and therefore seeking to bridge the digital literacy gap between the Global North and Global South.
We at Wranga , are working with Disney to create an Online safety curriculum for schools, which focuses not only on technical skills but also an understanding of the impact of this technology on children, their rights and wellbeing.As policy level work includes the involvement of stakeholders , we are inculcating the field knowledge and pursuing an effort to involve the children in the process of designing AI while developing AI tools for kids.
To guide us in helping design the future frameworks related to AI and children we refer the following existing guidelines by global leaders.
We represent India at international conferences including the very recently concluded Family Online Safety Institute, recently concluded FOSI 2022 Annual Conference, Trust & Assurance: Online Safety in an Uncertain World.
More global action will be needed to ensure that children's best interests are reflected and implemented in national and international policies, design and development of AI technologies. There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will change the way children interact with their surroundings including their learning, play and development environment. However, it is our responsibility to ensure that this change becomes a force for good.