The Military Wants Virtual Parents For Children of Deployed Soldiers

Illustration for article titled The Military Wants Virtual Parents For Children of Deployed Soldiers

You would think that a webcam would be sufficient, but basic teleconferencing solutions to the problem of deployed moms and dads is not enough for the military. They want to go virtual.

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Specifically, the Pentagon is soliciting proposals to "develop a highly interactive PC or Web-based application to allow family members to verbally interact with 'virtual' renditions of deployed Service Members."

Parameters include:

"The child should be able to have a simulated conversation with a parent about generic, everyday topics," the solicitation says. "For instance, a child may get a response from saying, 'I love you,' or 'I miss you,' or 'Good night mommy/daddy.' This is a technologically challenging application because it relies on the ability to have convincing voice-recognition, artificial intelligence, and the ability to easily and inexpensively develop a customized application tailored to a specific parent."

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Like other DARPA-esque endeavors, this task is much easier said than done. And, to be honest, I don't know what to make of it. I understand that deployed parents might not have internet access at all times, but this solution seems preposterous and costly when compared to, say Skype. On the other hand, its kind of touching—like the military's awkward cloak-wearing, bony-fingered way of expressing compassion. [Information Week via Medgadget]

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DISCUSSION

I find this heartbreaking on a maternal level and horrifying on a technical level. What if the enemy hacked in and little kids everywhere tell Mommy/Daddy, "I love you" and V-parent says "I hate you" back. No good can come of this.