Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: googled( 04/10/14)
Turning the Key
By Rachel Malcolm
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Today's presentation was pivotal. She had been working feverishly on the project and had recruited several top programmers.
Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and entered the room, “Ladies, gentlemen, thank you for being here today. I have an exciting product to present. Be the first to witness the next phenomenon.”
Teresa slowly opened her briefcase in order to build the suspense. “Meet the Rave 360. This unit is capable of the most advanced voice recognition system to date. It can recognize the vocal nuances of a two-year old and has instant access to the most powerful search engine.
“My two-year old daughter has been testing the product; it has no trouble recognizing her voice. This morning she googled oranges because she didn't believe me that they grew on trees.” Teresa paused as laughter rippled through the audience.
“I want you to imagine the possibilities. Consider how the Rave will change the way our toddlers receive information. During those years of lightning fast learning, these children will have access to answers for their every question.”
Teresa had her audience in the grip of her hand. She knew when to raise her voice in a call for action or to lower it to a whisper in order to make them lean in.
Frank tapped his pen against the table before raising his eyes to hers. “What kind of security is in place to protect these children?”
“Unlike a computer or phone, the Rave only processes information. It doesn't allow the child to communicate, purchase, or download. It also prevents access to social forums. The websites that it searches are approved. All 6,000 of them.”
“But what about the ethical implications here. Two-year olds should be going to their parents with their questions, not a Rave. Technology is already interfering with relationships. Studies are showing that the younger a child is introduced to these devices the more likely they will become addicted.” Frank leaned back and cracked his knuckles. “Very young children are exhibiting withdrawal symptoms similar to alcoholics.”
Teresa flashed her most confident smile and slowly walked around the table drawing all eyes to herself. “We are setting standards for cutting edge technology that will change the world. If we don't develop this then someone else will. Let's leave the ethical decisions up to the parents. Any other questions?”
* * *
The response had been tremendous and Teresa gave into the impulse to drive too fast. The adrenaline of success coursed through her.
“Mommy's home!” She called out as she stepped into the spacious entry. She sighed when Kara didn't run to greet her.
Exotic aromas enticed her into the kitchen where Marika was preparing a Thai dinner.
“She's in the living room playing with the Rave. I could hardly get her to put it down.” Marika raised her large arms in exasperation.
Teresa found Kara sitting on the edge of the white leather couch. “What are you looking at?” But Kara didn't even glance in her direction.
“Moon,” Kara said in her baby voice. She laughed as a luminescent sphere came onto the screen. The image spun as she ran her finger over it. She touched an icon at the bottom of the screen and the device began to sing.
Teresa watched her daughter as she explored dogs and potties and ponies. “It's time to put away the Rave and get washed up.”
“No!” Kara screamed.
Teresa pulled back her fingers and removed the device, but Kara flew at her in a blur of fury, ripping hair, scratching, and hitting. Marika ran in and pulled her off.
Rushing to the bathroom, Teresa splashed cold water on her face. What had come over her daughter? She looked into the mirror and touched her hand to the bleeding welt on her cheek.
After Kara had been tucked into bed, Teresa mixed herself a drink and walked over to where the Rave had been dropped. She turned it over in her hands while pacing the floor. What am I creating? She wondered as she placed the Rave in a drawer—turning the key in the lock.
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