The 2018 ITGS case study focuses on artificial intelligence (AI), particularly in consumer grade products such as toys and dolls. The case study is only for ITGS HL students and is examined in Paper 3. The scenario provided to students changes each year. (The case study for November 2017 is still Kita Health Tech)
Background technology and examples
In order to understand the case study we need to understand current AI toy technology. MAGS, the software development company in the case study, want to this technology further – so it is important to know what already exists. Below are several examples of AI dolls that incorporate similar features to the doll called Alicia.
Hello Barbie was one of the closest examples to the proposed Alicia doll that could find. According to the manufacturers (Mattel), Hello Barbie can have “two way conversations”. It uses a combination of WiFi and speech recognition technology to generate conversations. The video on Barbie’s official YouTube channel has a good overview of the doll’s features.
As MAGS note in the case study, toys with recording and Internet integration capabilities require special care as they are aimed at children. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood raises some of these concerns. The Amazon reviews of Hello Barbie also make interesting reading. Many of them discussion general technology issues that are relevant to the case study.
The 2018 case study’s primary focus is toys. However, life-like dolls with artificial intelligence (sometimes called androids) can have uses in other areas too. Nadine, created by Professor Nadia Magnenat Thalmann at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, is one example. Nadine’s technology includes face and gesture recognition, plus a voice synthesizer. The realistic face – modelled on her creator – can also express basic emotions. The video below shows Nadine in action, while Forbes has a good overview of her capabilities.
When assessing Nadine’s capabilities we should be aware that the ITGS case study (line 184) suggests social assistance robots are outside the remit of the scenario. However, it seems reasonable to speculate that the cutting edge technology of today may quickly become the consumer technology of tomorrow – so I’d argue studying Nadine makes sense in this context.
Cayla, Party Time Cayla, and Princess Cayla are a series of dolls similar to Hello Barbie.
Cayla connects wirelessly to smart devices in order to enhance the quality of conversations she can have with children. Of course this requirement to use a smartphone raises new social and ethical issues, particularly as the doll is aimed at younger children.
In early 2017 the German government went so far as to ban the sale and ownership of the My Cayla doll, stating that it violated federal law. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) raised similar complaints in the US. This Snopes article has a good level of detail about both complaints.
Other case study resources
- The ITGS textbook website has a lot of case study resources and will be updated with more soon. They cover background technology, example dolls, and the social impacts and ethical issues raised.
- Several of the other artificial intelligence posts on this blog may be relevant to the 2018 case study.
- Several sets of Quizlet flashcards are available for the 2018 case study. This set has nice images to accompany the key terms.
- 5 ITGS HL posters has infographics related to the case study