Rise of the Robot Nannies

When did the TV become the after-school companion of a generation? It had to be in the mid 1980s. "Latchkey kids," two-parent working households, kids alone with cable TV and no one to say, "No more screen time. Turn off the TV and find a book."

Home. Alone. Bored. TV.   

Today it's phones, iPods and iPads. Screen time is something completely different than it was a generation ago, but the principle is the same for many: too much screen time means too little reading and moving and playing. 

How long before Amazon Echo's Alexa is good enough to be the after-school nanny, asking about the kids' day and checking up on homework and offering ideas for a snacks or providing tutoring and entertainment? Or even making them read. (All the while providing updates to parents as the ultimate surveillance. A nanny cam on steroids.) 

How long before we're as comfortable with kids being nannied by a robot or artificial intelligence as we were with them being raised by MTV? 

I know, there's a big difference between an interactive robot with human-like AI and passively watching MTV on the sofa, but when I was a kid, there were a lot of adults who thought MTV would be the downfall of humanity. And now? People don't even know what MTV is or, if they do, they see it as irrelevant. 

A robot future like the one in the BBC/AMC's show "Humans" is a long way off, but a life-like robot in our daily lives is something we can definitely see from here. It may not look like us, per se, but it will be real and it will regularly trick us into believing we're talking to a human. 

We will know when robots are a natural part of our lives when we leave our kids under their care. I suspect that future is just around the corner.