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An initiative of Google and Test-Achats

Don’t Fall for Fake

About those bots

Children are interacting with more and more nonhuman “voices” coming out of devices, apps, and sites these days – mostly at home, but perhaps increasingly at school. Sometimes they’re called “chatbots,” sometimes “virtual assistants,” often just “bots.” This is a simple Q&A activity designed to get children to think out loud together (or simply with you) about interacting with bots.

Goals

Learn about this interactive technology showing up in more and more places  in students’ lives.

Identify experiences with bots of various kinds.

 Analyze the impact these technologies can have on daily life – both positive  and negative.

Let's talk

More and more people use bots these days. Have you heard that word used? Some people call them “chatbots” or “virtual assistants.” They’re used for a gazillion things: playing games, checking the weather, answering questions, getting directions, notifying you when time’s up, etc. Sometimes they have a human name, other times their names just describe what they do, such as Dog A Day, a bot that sends a photo of a dog every day. Bots can be on mobile devices, online, in cars, or they can be special devices people keep in different rooms of their home. Let’s chat about what experiences your children have had with bots and get our thinking about them rolling. Here are some questions for us to consider: 

  • Do you know what a bot is? 
  • How many of you have talked to a bot? On what kind of device? 
  • Who wants to tell us what that’s like? 
  • What do you think bots work best for (examples to get people thinking: ask for the weather report, get the news, play a game, ask for information)? 
  • Bots use what’s called AI, or artificial intelligence. In a way, AI learns from what you ask so it can get better at helping you. To do this, bots sometimes “remember,” or record, what you ask and say. Does that make you think about what you’d tell a bot? If so, what would you tell it and what kind of information would you keep to yourself? 
  • Do you think it’s like talking to a human being? How is it and how is it not like that? 
  • How do people you know treat or talk to their bots? 
  • How would you talk to it? Would you be kind, or would you sometimes yell at it? 
  • Is it okay for people to yell at bots? Why or why not? (Is it like practicing a certain kind of interaction?) 
  • Sometimes really little kids think bots are humans. What would you tell a little sister, brother, or cousin to help them understand what they’re chatting with? 
  • If bots can learn from us humans, can you think of something we shouldn’t say because you wouldn’t want your bot to learn it? (Hint: Think back to the activities in “Share with Care” and talk about how they relate to this.) 
  • Is it possible to classify information as “good or bad” or “real or fake”? How can we try to answer these questions?

Note: Try to keep the discussion open-ended; this activity is designed to engage critical thinking, not deliver any conclusions.

Activity

After the discussion, on your home devices, search for images of bots and information (including news coverage) about them. Search terms might include “bots,” “chatbots,” “digital assistants,” or “virtual assistants.” Decide in family if the information is good and write a one-paragraph summary about

Takeaway

Critical thinking is one of the best, most long-lasting “tools” we have for keeping our tech use positive – and the great thing is that it’s a tool that gets better every time we use it. Thinking out loud together is a powerful, fun way to use and improve that tool

Vocabulary 

Bot

Also called a “chatbot” or “virtual assistant,” this is a piece of software that operates online or on a network to automatically answer questions, follow commands (like giving directions to your new friend’s house), or do simple tasks (like play a song).

Phishing

An attempt to scam you or trick you into sharing login information or other personal information online. Phishing is usually done through email, ads, or sites that look similar to ones you’re already used to.

Spearphishing

A phishing scam where an attacker targets you more precisely by using pieces of your own personal information.

Scam

A dishonest attempt to make money or gain something else of value by tricking people.

Trustworthy

Able to be relied on to do what is right or what is needed.

Authentic

Real, genuine, true, or accurate; not fake or copied.

Verifiable

Something that can be proven or shown to be true or correct.

Deceptive

False; an action or message designed to fool, trick, or mislead someone.

Manipulation

Someone controlling or influencing another person or situation unfairly, dishonestly, or under threat. Alternatively, things you find online may be manipulated, such as a photo that has been edited to make you believe something that isn’t true.

Fraudulent

Tricking someone in order to get something valuable from them.

Firewall

A program that shields your computer from most scams and tricks.

Malicious

Words or actions intended to be cruel or hurtful. Can also refer to harmful software intended to do damage to a person’s device, account, or personal information.

Catfishing

Creating a fake identity or account on a social networking service to trick people into sharing their personal information or into believing they’re talking to a real person behind a legitimate account, profile, or page.

Clickbait

Manipulative online content, posts, or ads designed to capture people’s attention and get them to click on a link or webpage, often to grow views or site traffic in order to make money.