Move Over Mary Poppins…

I like my connected home.

When I started travelling for work I got a Slingbox so I could control and watch my TV while I was in another country.  As fun as it is to be somewhere else, when you’re there for weeks at a time with work it’s sometimes nice to chill out and do what you would normally do at home.

I now have plug sockets I can control from my phone and lights that turn on when I arrive home if it’s after sunset.  Unfortunately I don’t have a boiler that will play nicely with a heating system or I’d have one of those too.  What I have is convenient for my laziness (the sockets) and propensity for personal injury (the lights).  They’re an addition to something that already works perfectly well.

So… Google is pushing it’s AI towards being a babysitter, something I don’t think I need at the moment.  A European patent submitted by Google reveals plans for a system for “protecting unattended children”.  Some of the alerts that the system will do give are “Your child is approaching an electrical outlet” and “Your child is alone for ten minutes”.

Now, call me cynical, but if the child is young enough to play with sockets then it’s bad parenting to leave them alone.  And one would hope that a parent would notice that they’re without child if they’re not intending to be.

The worrying thing is that I’m sure there’ll be some people who think the AI is doing the entire job.  Who needs someone to keep the child entertained or stope arguments? It somewhat also undermines the skills of proper babysitters.

Google says that the system “may complement or replace conventional methods for protecting unattended children in the home”, according to the patent.  I can’t help but think that some things shouldn’t be replaced though, however good the tech is.  I kind of hope that, if the time ever comes for me, I won’t leave the kids entrusted entirely to technology.


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