Not all robots have faces

Through Twitter, I have become aware of the SNOO. I’m quoting SNOO literature

Unfortunately, babies don’t sleep well on flat, still beds in totally quiet rooms. In fact, over 50% of

babies still wake up once a night after 6 long months. That’s a problem because poor baby sleep

causes the #1 new parent stress: EXHAUSTION!

SNOO gives a perfect 4th trimester of gentle shushing and rocking…all night long. And, it quickly

responds to your babies’ fussies with stronger sound and jiggly motion…

The bed hears your baby cry and rocks them back to sleep! I can probably count the number of times I have slept through the night in the past 6 years on two hands. If used wisely, this machine sounds like an incredible gift to families. (I can also see problems if used unwisely.) If the baby is crying for longer than 3 minutes, then the machine turns off and the expectation is that a parent needs to step in.

This reminds me of Tyler Cowen’s book Average is Over.

Tyler points out that automation is already integrated into American life. “Robots” make some of our decisions, such as which exit to take off the highway.

A natural question is, if I’m about to let a robot drive my car for me, will I leave my baby with a robot while I leave to give a presentation at work? The idea makes me uncomfortable! Babies who don’t get human interaction develop attachment disorders.

However, like Google Maps in our phones, automated smart machines are already becoming part of raising a child. Here’s another example:

Last month, I took my 2-year-old on a plane (our family is fully vaccinated). It was fun at first. I showed her books and stuffed animals. The flight attendant brought her orange juice strategically when she started to get too loud. But then it was time to land. My 2yo was bored with her chair. She absolutely had to sit still, with seat belt fastened and tray table up, for about 20 minutes. We were headed toward an ugly fight and scream fest. So, I brought out the iPad. I let her play Khan Academy Kids on the condition that she sit down and keep her seat belt on. She sat quietly and safely for the entire descent and complained when I took the iPad away from her to walk off the plane. The app she played is designed to hold her attention, and it does. I left her with the robots for a while, and I even got some reading done. (In case anyone is wondering, I do believe that too much screen time is bad for kids.)

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