Artificial Intelligence Enters Millennial Homes as the 3rd Parent of Your Child

Swaroop Madhavan, Founder and CEO, Parentof Parentof - an AI, Parent tech start-up headquartered in Bangalore. Parentof is working on building the world's largest child data and decision sciences company to usher the smart parenting revolution world-wide.

To the non-parent,thinking of parenting suggests an intuitive,natural process which humans are capable of without needing guidance. A parent on the other hand,will emphatically tell you how lost they'd have been without guidance they'd received from their elders, specialists and well-wishers.

Parenting through the ages has always been like this. From the 60’s Indian mothers who used generous amounts of trans-fat rich Vanaspati to make kids chubbier, to 90’s parents who believed whatever new fad advertisements sold to them, young parents are always on the lookout for ways of parenting they believe applies to their generation. The millennials are no different.

Recent Google statistics say 70% of parents are online and 90% of new-age parents are millennials. The current generation of parents are possibly the most informed and data-oriented parents the world has ever seen. However, as history demonstrates, parenting without the right guidance could have serious negative effects. In the case of millennial parents, that would be the danger of too much information at their fingertips (literally, just a few taps on their smartphones), without the intelligence of what truly applies to their child and what doesn’t.

Young parents are often seen running online searches for any child development question on their mind, and only then consider approaching qualified childcare experts. The dangers of this trend go without saying.We're seeing the birth of the third parent. One who knows many things, and tells you everything, but cannot distinguish helpful information from potentially dangerous ones. The addictive design of smartphones has created this situation, especially the instant gratification one receives when seeking information or knowledge.
However, not all is bleak. Recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning technology could transform our devices into truly reliable sources of intelligence for day-to-day parenting challenges. This idea itself is not new. The lack of reliable data points and supporting infrastructure was a roadblock that could n't be overcome in the Indian context until as recently as 5 years ago. Things have rapidly changed. According to a new study by US-based media agency Zenith, China will have highest number of smartphone users,1.3 billion, in 2018, followed by India with 530 million users. This creates an opportunity for a wide spectrum of data-points required for Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning systems to be trained and made relevant to India.

An intelligent assistant could not only solve problems which the parent or child faces, but also recommend ways in which every child could grow their talents to their fullest potential

AI holds the promise to transform millennial parenting by making it actually 'smart'! Much like how the Google assistant notifies you to leave on time due to traffic conditions, imagine if a digital parenting assistant took your inputs and observations about your child, and using its intelligence, could give you real-time recommendations and analytics about your child’s health, academic capabilities, skill development, career paths and so on.

With access to such tools, young parents would not spend hours poring over internet search results or worry if they are meeting the right specialists if their child seems to have a developmental challenge. An intelligent assistant could not only solve problems which the parent or child faces, but also recommend ways in which every child could grow their talents to their fullest potential.

While there are a lot of success stories on the transactional data models in AI, which revolve around recommendations and retail driven applications, healthcare and education-based models are still in their early stages of development. Innovation in these models requires a combination of scientific validity proven through research, as well as contextualizing ways in which AI will be deployed for each region of the country.

Start-ups in India focusing on the Parent-Tech space have already made their presence felt in the 'Parenting Social Network', and ‘Parenting Content’ models. With the high availability of talent in India, we stand to make a significant impact on the global landscape. Already, the recent Tracxn report about Global Parenting Start-ups lists Indian Parent-Tech companies among ones to watch out for leading to the year 2020.

We are living in exciting times, with self-driven cars, and visions to colonise Mars. Although global tech majors are integrating machine learning into their services, when it comes to AI we still cannot claim that it is ready to replace the human wisdom of child development experts such as doctors, psychologists, counsellors and coaches. Maturity in this space would not be the replacement of such roles. It would be when such experts also use insights provided by this 'Third Parent', as a tool to improve their practice.