Advocates Commend Mattel For Scrapping "Aristotle" AI Device For Babies & Children

Date of Release: 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

For Immediate Release
Contact: David Monahan (david@commercialfreechildhood.org617-896-9397)

Advocates Commend Mattel For Scrapping "Aristotle" AI Device For Babies & Children

Boston, MA- Thursday, October 5, 2017- In response to a campaign led by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and The Story of Stuff Project,Mattel has announced it is canceling plans to sell “Aristotle”, the first Amazon Echo-type listening and talking device designed specifically for babies and young children.  Mattel’s announcement came just two days after the groups sent the company more than 20,000 petition signatures along with expert opinions stating the device would threaten children’s privacy and healthy development.  

“We commend Mattel for putting children’s wellbeing first and listening to the concerns of child development experts and thousands of parents who urged them not to release this device,” said CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin.  “This is a tremendous victory for everyone who believes children still have a right to privacy and that essential caregiving functions should never be outsourced to robots.  The backlash against Aristotle should send a strong message to other toymakers and tech companies with plans for their own surveillance devices for young children.”

The advocates’ campaign raised many serious concerns about Aristotle, including that the device might displace essential parenting functions like soothing a crying baby. Child development experts including MIT’s Sherry Turkle expressed concern about the consequences of children forming relationships with AI devices. And privacy experts worried about the wealth of data that Aristotle – equipped with a camera and microphone – would collect from young children and share with Mattel’s corporate partners. Last week, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) and U.S. Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent a letter to Mattel demanding information on measures the company will take to protect families’ privacy and secure data obtained through the device.

"Mattel has admitted what we knew all along: that no amount of tweaks or delays could make Aristotle safe or healthy for children,” said Brett Chamberlin, Program Manager at The Story of Stuff Project.  “We applaud Mattel for listening to the experts, advocates, and parents who raised the alarm. Although Mattel made the right call by pulling the plug on Aristotle, the company has much more work to do when it comes to the environmental and social impact of their products. We hope that Mattel will continue to participate in the conversation around the commercialization of childhood."