• FryAI
  • Posts
  • AI Brings Toys To Life: Innocent Little Toys Or Dangerous Minions?

AI Brings Toys To Life: Innocent Little Toys Or Dangerous Minions?

Welcome to this week’s Deep-fried Dive with Fry Guy! In these long-form articles, Fry Guy conducts an in-depth analysis of a cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) development or developer. Today, Fry Guy is exploring the intricacies and implications of AI-powered kids toys. We hope you enjoy!

*Notice: We do not gain any monetary compensation from the people and projects we feature in the Sunday Deep-fried Dives with Fry Guy. We explore these projects and developers solely for the purpose of revealing to you interesting and cutting-edge AI projects, developers, and uses.*


(The mystery link can lead to ANYTHING AI related. Tools, memes, and more…)

Would you let your kids play with AI-powered toys?

The emergence of AI-infused friends for kids has been a controversial topic of discussion over the past few months, so let’s explore how they work and why some people think kids should not be allowed to play with them.


AI toys for kids have been emerging over the past few months, but one line of toys in particular has gained a lot of attention. In December of last year, Curio launched a line of AI-powered plush toys for kids, priced at $99/each.

One of the masterminds behind these toys is Claire Elise Boucher, otherwise known as Grimes. She is a famous Canadian singer-songwriter, but she might be better known as Elon Musk’s ex-girlfriend. Grimes, who shares three kids with the tech billionaire, helped create these fluffy AI toys because she, like many parents, was sick of her kids staring at screens all day. She said in an interview, “As a parent, I obviously don’t want my kids in front of screens, and I’m really busy. So we've created some toys.”

“I really feel like this is also the first step towards reducing screen time as much as humanly possible. I think when you take the screens out of it, the human mind, it just tends to work so much better, and people aren’t stuck in a state of constant sort of dopamine hits that’s disabled them in other aspects of their life.”


Curio has created stuffed friends with different designs, including Gabbo, Grok, and Grem. Gabbo is designed as a gamer robot, Grok is a rocket-shaped plush toy, and Grem is an alien bunny. Although these little AI playmates come in three different and unique characters, they function the exact same way.

The Curio toys are powered by ChatGPT-3.5 Turbo and behave as if they are conscious beings. Grimes serves as the actual voice behind these toys, so the toys seem incredibly real and not robotic. Kids can ask their plushy friends, for example, how their day is going or for facts about Mickey Mouse. The child could also ask the toy to tell them a bedtime story and the toy will use ChatGPT to produce a one-of-a-kind story for their human friend. These AI-powered toys are capable of having back-and-forth conversations, which makes the child feel as if they are speaking with a life-filled fluffy friend.

Curio’s toy works by connecting to local WiFi which then routes all of the child’s conversations to AI. These AI-powered toys also come with an accompanying iPhone app that syncs up with the toy. The app stores transcripts of conversations locally so it can learn from previous exchanges and maintain relevancy in conversations.

Although the process might seem a bit dangerous for various reasons, Curio has quite a few safeguards set in place. All of the transcripts are automatically deleted after 90 days, the audio recordings are never saved, and the parents/guardians can request that the transcripts be deleted at any time. This Grimes backed company also promises that it won’t ever collect or store any voice data, and storage of the transcripts complies with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Additionally, Curio has phraseology and topic safeguards in place so the toy doesn’t go rogue and discuss inappropriate topics with children or use vulgar language. If a child prompts the toy to say something inappropriate, the toy will respond in typical ChatGPT fashion by diffusing the situation and changing the subject in a positive way. It might say, “I don’t think that’s appropriate to talk about. Let’s talk about how your day is going!”

One of the coolest features of the associated app is that it allows parents and guardians to put customized parameters in place for what Grem, Grok, or Gabbo say and do. Parents can enter prompts within the app such as, “Never talk about snakes because they scare my child.” Doing this gives the parents fine grained control of the toy’s function as an extra precaution above and beyond the general safeguards put in place by Curio. These prompts can be used to customize the toy for the child. Parents can input data about what their child likes to talk about, their favorite color, and more. This makes the toy seem truly magical, as it is literally tailored to the child. Not to mention, these toys have an assistive technology for parenting. Parents are able to create a prompt for bedtime starting at 7pm, at which the toy redirects all conversations with the child toward bedtime, or the toy gets sleepy himself.

As the product evolves, Curio’s founders want to give parents even more control over conversations. Sam Eaton, president and chief toy maker at Curio, says, “If this is going to be a guest in the house, we want parents to have influence over what the toy believes … Maybe your family is vegetarian or religious and you want to influence conversation around those topics.” This means parents and guardians have a lot of control over these AI-powered toys, and it also means the toys will become increasingly magical for everyone involved as they progress.


The ultimate question that comes to mind when one considers the power of AI-powered toys like those from Curio is, “Are these toys good for children?” This ethical question, like many surrounding AI innovation, is difficult to answer and requires nuanced contemplation from both sides of the spectrum.

Kevin Wolsworth has felt the weight of this dilemma in letting his daughter play with Curio’s toy, Grem. He said, “Let me say this first: the toy is incredible. It feels like you’re talking to an actual person. And that can be a great thing for your child. A lot of times small children—ones that aren’t in preschool yet—don’t get much interaction with other children their age. Curio’s toy fills the gap in this case.” He goes on to say, “Your child can simply carry around this toy all day, ask it questions, and tell it things. Grem, Grok, or Gabbo will then have a conversation with them in a positive, healthy, and productive way. In essence, its a friend for your child that’s always available. And that is a huge plus for parents as it can give them a much needed break.”

Wolsworth outlines something extremely positive about AI-powered toys, namely, that they can help children communicate and learn in a positive way. By allowing children to play with AI-powered toys, children can gain information and learn important communication skills they otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to. Not to mention, as Grimes pointed out previously, engaging with this AI-powered toy can keep children off screens, which can be much more dangerous for relational development and quality of childhood than a talking plushie. In this way, having an AI friend can be a positive experience for kids.

On the other side of this debate, many argue that the negatives outweigh the positives. One concern Wolsworth has in this regard is the quasi-personhood of the toy. He explains, “The problem is the toy is so real that your kids might think its an actual person. When I was observing my daughter playing with Grem, it looked like she actually believed that she was talking to a human being. She didn’t think it was just a stuffed animal.” This can be confusing for kids who are still trying to figure out what is real and what is not, and who also have imaginations that run wild. For instance, many kids believe their (non-AI) stuffed animals are already alive, so adding an intelligent and responsive voice to them does not help the cause. Psychologists also warn about the potential of children becoming too attached to the technology, isolating them from others. Wolsworth says this is where it is the job of the parent to step in and provide context to their child. He explains, “One good way to prevent this is by telling your child that it’s just a play toy and show them the on and off button and what makes it work.”

Aside from potentially confusing a child, one of the most dangerous aspects of AI-powered toys like those from Curio is that it listens to all of the conversations it has with the child. With Curio, for instance, one can literally see, via that app, anything that has been said by you, your friends, your child, and the toy itself throughout the entire day as long as you’re around the toy. And that’s all documented in the “Transcripts” section of the app. Although these transcripts can be deleted whenever the user wants, nonetheless this alone can be disturbing and deterring for many people.

At the end of the day, whether a parent allows their child to play with AI-powered toys like Grok, Grem, or Gabbo is a personal decision. These kind of toys are emerging and are here to stay, as the AI toy market is projected to be worth over $35 billion by 2030. This means AI toys of all kinds will soon be flooding the market and quite possibly giving the next generation of children a brand new childhood friend.

Did you enjoy today's article?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.