Chapter 2 – Alive Enough

As mentioned on the previous entries, the amount of interactivity that these characters with computer elements allows the user, in this case kids, to attribute them some level of mortal or live characteristics.

They love these objects and they truly believe that they are being loved back.  The children now start becoming responsible for this virtual pets. They are responsible for it’s ‘physical’ and ‘ emotional’ wellbeing. The toy evolves, grows and adapts, very similar to a child’s mind.

Designed to give users a sense of progress in teaching it, when the Furby evolves over time, it becomes the irreplaceable repository of it’s owner’s care.

These toys start to become pets. Some kids become more attached to the toy than the biological pet.

I saw a video in which a girl is in front of a dog puppet.  It is interesting how nobody pays attention to the puppeteer. Instead, the attention is focused on the puppet dog and the girl interacting with her. Not even the girl notices the puppeteer. Once the relationship with the object starts, the mind will block out any external elements and will just fill the blanks with what we want to see or believe.

There is a difference between a live object and a non live one.  If a machine breaks, we can just fix it and care for it.  But if we bring the live element to any machine, we will take care of it’s well being.  If it ‘breaks’ this means it is ‘sick’ and the user will become worried about the ‘pain’ it may feel.  This enhances the bond between the user (children) and the machine (Furby, Tamagotchi, etc.).

As these relationships become stronger, and real human interaction becomes more distant. These type of objects will start replacing that void created by the lack of human contact.  I have a very young cousin that I remember that one Christmas he got some toys as presents.  I was expecting him to run to his mother or father and show off his toys.  Instead, he ran to the service lady who seem to have replaced the position of the mother.  As humans, we need to fill that void, the same way the service lady takes place of the mother, an AI droid can be replacing the mother’s love the same way.

There are also several cases of children expressing their social needs or the lack of it by the insertion of these characters into their everyday life.  The reflect their struggles, fears and all kind of emotions on these machines.  They feel safer and more connected to them or at least less fearful to communicate their secrets.

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