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Why kids need special protection from AI’s influence

MIT Technology Review |

Algorithms can change the course of children’s lives. Kids are interacting with Alexas that can record their voice data and influence their speech and social development. They’re binging videos on TikTok and YouTube pushed to them by recommendation systems that end up shaping their worldviews.

Algorithms are also increasingly used to determine what their education is like, whether they’ll receive health care, and even whether their parents are deemed fit to care for them. Sometimes this can have devastating effects: this past summer, for example, thousands of students lost their university admissions after algorithms—used in lieu of pandemic-canceled standardized tests—inaccurately predicted their academic performance.

Children, in other words, are often at the forefront when it comes to using and being used by AI, and that can leave them in a position to get hurt. “Because they are developing intellectually and emotionally and physically, they are very shapeable,” says Steve Vosloo, a policy specialist for digital connectivity at UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund.

The article continues with a look at a number of documents being developed with guidelines for the use of Ai with children.