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Toying with the Singularity: AI, Automata and Imagination in Play with Robots and Virtual Pets

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The Internet of Toys

Part of the book series: Studies in Childhood and Youth ((SCY))


To grasp the emerging possibilities of new developments in the Internet of Toys, paying critical attention to the layered relationships of material technology and intangible imagination is needed. This chapter explores children’s imaginative and playful engagement with toys that demonstrate AI or autonomous behaviour (here robots and virtual pets). It takes a workshop on the design of a new robotic gaming platform as a central case study. Paying close descriptive and analytical attention to moments of interaction with such toys is essential to fully grasp the complex relationships between global technological imaginaries—in this case of AI and artificial life—and the material and embodied workings of imagination in play.

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The robot workshop was part of a project with Reach Robotics to prototype their Mecha Monsters toy (now marketed as MekaMon) and was funded by REACT, a Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Industries. REACT ran from 2012 to 2016 and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK: Thanks to Silas Adekunle, CEO of Reach Robotics, for his enthusiastic cooperation; and many thanks to Penny Giddings for setting up, planning and running the workshop.

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Correspondence to Seth Giddings .

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Giddings, S. (2019). Toying with the Singularity: AI, Automata and Imagination in Play with Robots and Virtual Pets. In: Mascheroni, G., Holloway, D. (eds) The Internet of Toys. Studies in Childhood and Youth. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-10897-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-10898-4

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

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