AI is increasingly embedded in children’s toys, tools, and classrooms, creating sophisticated new approached to education and child development tailored to the specific needs of each user. However, special precautions must be taken to protect society’s most vulnerable demographic. Germany has banned AI-enabled children’s toys because they are considered to be spying upon the child, while regulators around the world are just starting to grapple with who should own the child’s data, how long it can be stored,whether it should be monitized. Will people suffer consequences for data collected about them as children?
Issues of privacy are compounded by questions about the impact of AI-enabled toys on cognitive development. Is it necessary to protect traditional creative play? Or is early exposure to AI useful for children who will grow up engaging with AI in the workplace? AI enabled devices are increasingly able to manipulate and addict users, to which children are more susceptible. This is particularly salient given the prevalence of bias in AI, to which children are less attuned than adults.
In absence of clear guidelines, parents and caregivers are left to make decisions about products with incomplete information and complex implications on their children’s health and privacy. As these devices come onto the market, stakeholders need to consider the correct mechanisms to protect children whilst enabling the benefits of “precision education”.
This project will bring together a multi-stakeholder community of governments, academics, business, international organizations, and civil society groups to design best practice guidelines and policy measures for the protection of children. These guidelines will encourage the use of AI technology for the benefit of children whilst also protecting their privacy and their lives from the use of AI across that data. There are four workstreams
(a) developing an initial framework and common vocabulary that defines the ways in which AI is most likely to impact children's lives
(b) identifying risks and opportunities specific to child rights
(c) showing how different actors can protect and enhance child rights
(d) catalyzing action to ensure children are considered and prioritized in the AI age.
The project will include papers, articles, policy frameworks and work plans that expand on the initial framework and provide a comprehensive vision of how to uphold child rights in the AI age. This project is in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).