PBS Kids has unveiled Lyla in the Loop, a new interactive animated series incorporating AI-assisted conversations with its main character. According to the broadcaster, AI will not only feature in the show’s production but the ethical use of the technology will be addressed in one of the series’ episodes as well.
The series, aimed at kids ages four-eight, will debut on PBS Kids on February 5, 2024.
How will the show be using AI? Show producers will create interactive episodes that integrate AI-assisted conversation with Lyla. During these episodes, Lyla will ask viewers questions and the program will then use responsive AI technology to understand what the viewer says and respond accordingly. Which specific technologies will be used to collect answers or craft responses weren’t specified in today’s release. Episodes will then be researched to assess children’s learning and engagement before being released to audiences sometime thereafter.
And how is the series going to address the “ethical use” of AI? According to a PBS Kids release, the show will feature a storyline in which Lyla “helps her sister navigate the ethics of creating an art project… showcasing an age-appropriate example of current questions surrounding the use of real-world AI tools.”
Who’s making the show? Lyla in the Loop was created and is showrun and executive produced by Dave Peth. Emmy-winning studio Pipeline Studios (Elinor Wonders Why, Alma’s Way) is animating the show. Fracaswell Hyman is executive producer and head writer with Monique D. Hall serving as story editor, Huy Tran as director, Laurie Rabin as supervising producer, Trina Sanyal as associate producer, Joon Chung as script coordinator, and Nneka Bolden as digital producer.
Technical support: The show will consult with several external advisors including Amon Millner, PhD, associate professor of computing and innovation at the Olin College of Engineering; Nermeen Dashoush, PhD, clinical assistant professor, early childhood education, Boston University; Yenda Prado, PhD, education researcher, University of California, Irvine; V. Scott Solberg, PhD, professor, department of counseling and applied human development, Boston University; and Cosette Strong, Strong Consulting Group.
Synopsis: “Lyla in the Loop follows Lyla, a dynamic 7-year-old girl who lives in a big city with her close-knit family, fantastical blue sidekick Stu, and a host of relatable and quirky characters in her community, who use creative and strategic problem-solving and critical thinking skills to address a range of everyday problems together. The new series will debut in both English and Spanish.”
What are they saying? Series creator, executive producer, and showrunner Peth said in a release:
Kids are natural creative problem-solvers, experimenting and investigating the world around them with joyful curiosity. Lyla in the Loop celebrates and encourages kids and the grownups in their lives to recognize those innate abilities and see them as a powerful tool to help others, express themselves, and solve all kinds of problems in everyday life.
Executive producer and head writer Fracaswell Hyman added:
Finding stories and issues our audiences can relate to is paramount to creating the relatable world of Lyla Loops. When viewers can connect to and identify with characters, they’re more likely to absorb and retain the curriculum. Working with a diverse group of writers who share authentic stories and interrelationships that ring true is where we find inspiration, humor, and heartfelt moments that may spark new ways of looking at ourselves and our friends.