New Barbie Can Talk Back…But Is That A Good Thing?

by Madison N Nunes


Barbie is now accessorizing with a cute clutch, small computer, stilettos…and Wifi hardware?

Matel has created a new Barbie that can intelligently respond to its owner’s voice. Think Siri from your iPhone, but packed into a disproportionate doll wielded by small children with formative brains. It works by processing the child’s voice and sending it through the internet to create a response. Then, at the end of the day the guardian of the child can (optionally) receive an e-mail with the day’s conversational highlights. Oh, and before you can turn on Hello Barbie, guardians must sign a legal agreement stating that Matel can keep records of the conversations to “maintain service.” Big Brother much? 

As much as we rely on technology here at BUST to get our job done (and to listen to Courtney Barnett’s newest album), we are pretty sure that this is not a step in the right direction when it comes to nurturing young noggins. You may be asking yourself what the harm is in being able to ask a children’s toy where you can find the nearest Chinese takeout, but think about it.  Adding a voice to Barbie leaves little room for those playing with her to stretch their imaginations. Is Barbie going on a date with Ken to Mars? Just ask her. No brain power there. This could be the end of pretending Barbie is an astronaut feminist who makes damn good pot brownies, and we’re left just asking ourselves why. Why is this even a thing?  Seriously.

 The only plus to these internet-savvy dolls is that they’re going to be available in different ethnicities. It’s doubtful, however, that diversity will prevent the dolls from being hacked when someone emerges from their dark basement ready to take vengeance on soccer mom’s everywhere. If U.S. websites can be hacked, what makes Matel think Barbie is safe now that she’s on the World Wide Web. One step forward, two steps back, right? 

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