Introducing Grok: Grimes's Innovative Interactive AI Toy for Children



For many years, movies, TV shows, and books have envisioned a world where individuals develop deep personal connections with artificially intelligent creations. Films like "Her" and "The Creator" depict a future where there is little distinction between friendships among humans and friendships between humans and AI. A glimpse of this future is starting to emerge in products like Grok, an AI-powered plush toy shaped like a rocket that can engage in conversation with children. Grok is the initial offering from Curio, a Silicon Valley start-up that is utilizing Open AI's technology to create a line of toys capable of engaging in long and interactive conversations. The founders of Curio claim that these toys will enable children to view them almost as peers or friends. Canadian musician Claire Boucher, also known as Grimes and the mother of three of Elon Musk's children, is an investor and advisor for the company and will provide the voice for the toy. Sam Eaton, President and Chief Toy Maker at Curio and former engineer at Roblox, describes this technology as a new level of immersion for playtime. Misha Sallee, Curio's CEO, refers to it as a new hardware medium. While academics and investors believe it is too early to determine the potential impact of such toys, the AI toy market is expected to explode in the coming years. A recent report by market research firm Contrive Datum Insights predicts that the AI toy market will be valued at $35.11 billion by 2030. Several AI-enabled robots for children were showcased at New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center during its annual Toy Fair in September. Contrive Datum Insights stated in a LinkedIn post about its research that parents always want to purchase toys that aid in their children's learning and growth, making smart AI toys even more popular. However, due to OpenAI's track record of providing incorrect or unsettling information, the educational value of AI-enabled toys remains unproven. For now, Curio's founders are not marketing the toy as an educational device but rather as an alternative to children's reliance on screens for entertainment. Grimes expressed this sentiment in a written interview with the founders and AI theorist Roon, stating that she believes it is a step towards reducing screen time. Eaton reflects on the screen-dominated world in which his own children are growing up, where much of children's entertainment revolves around passive consumption. He believes that technology is finally allowing us to return to our own reality instead of being consumed by a digital one. Sallee states that their main vision is to enhance imagination levels and replace more harmful forms of technology. As the product continues to evolve, Curio's founders aim to provide parents with even more control over Grok's conversations. Eaton explains that they want parents to be able to influence what the toy believes, such as incorporating vegetarianism or religious beliefs or catering to a child's specific interests like dinosaurs. Unlike previous talking toys like Teddy Ruxpin, Talk to Me Barbie, or Furbies, which simply played prerecorded lines, Eaton plans for Curio's toys to possess a degree of pseudo consciousness. The company will provide an app for parents that offers complete transcripts of every conversation a child has with the toy. Parents will also have the ability to restrict certain words or topics. The toy will not collect or store any voice data, and the storage of transcripts will comply with the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Parents can request the deletion of any transcripts at any time.

"I truly believe it's crucial to inform parents that they have complete control over it, and we're not keeping anything hidden," Eaton expressed. Sallee mentioned that the toy was specifically designed with Grimes's children in mind, and they have a friendly relationship with it. "The toy was created for X and the other kids," she explained, referring to Grimes and Musk's son, X Æ A-Xii, "but primarily for X since he's at an age where he can effectively communicate with the toy, and it can respond back." However, the toy has no connection to Musk's AI start-up, which is also named Grok. Curio owns the trademark for the name, and the two AI products are completely unrelated, according to Curio. The name Grok was invented by Grimes and the Curio team, who stated that it was a shortened version of the word Grocket, which was coined because Grimes' children are exposed to a lot of rockets due to their father's ownership of SpaceX. Grok is currently available for pre-order at $99. Customers who place an order by December 17th will receive a golden ticket in the mail before Christmas. The product itself will be shipped early next year. The current version requires a WiFi connection, although Eaton hopes that one day the technology will advance to the point where the toy itself can contain all the necessary hardware and software to be interactive. However, incorporating such technology at present would significantly increase its price to several thousand dollars, making it unaffordable for most parents. Curio also envisions Grok as an assistive technology for parenting. For example, parents may be able to set a prompt for bedtime, and Grok could enter bedtime mode, redirecting all conversations with the child towards bedtime or even appearing sleepy itself. "We've heard concerns from some people about whether this could replace parents," Eaton acknowledged. "But it's the opposite. Kids are already engrossed in YouTube or tablets. With this toy, you're engaging in conversation with it, and it's responding back. It encourages imagination and challenges you." The founders of Curio also imagine a future where AI toys can interact and play with each other, similar to the concept of Toy Story. Curio was established earlier this year and currently has four full-time employees and several contractors working in marketing and manufacturing, in addition to the two founders. The company has received seed-stage investment from Grimes, as well as technologists such as Daniel Gross and Nat Friedman, the former CEO of GitHub. Eaton and Sallee connected with Grimes through a mutual friend after she expressed interest in the concept of a sentient toy. They also hope to open up the technology to more collaborators and partners. "The voice box is the technology; it's separate from the outer covering," Eaton explained. "So people could create any kind of plush covering for it. Our idea is to open it up and allow others to build upon it and create their own characters." "Our goal is to bring more creativity and artistry to toys, just as Nintendo did with video games and Pixar did with animation," he added.
Enzo Day
By : Enzo Day
Enzo Day is professional journalist and editor scine 2017 , graduated from the University of Oxford in the Department of Journalism I write in several fields work - entertainment - sports - health - science EnzoDay@elalamimedia.com
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