Earlier this year, I met an entrepreneur who believed people could become better parents by texting with a software program she’d built. To me, a new mother, it sounded like magic. By corresponding with me, the program would learn so much about my son that it’d be able to predict his future happiness, earning potential, and even his life span. Based on those projections, it would assign me an activity each morning meant to improve those outcomes. In other words, the program, called Muse, would literally turn my son, Kavi, into a richer, happier, longer-living adult than he otherwise would’ve been.
Maybe this sounds ridiculous. But the entrepreneur had caught me at a vulnerable time. I’d believed myself to be an intelligent, capable person, but parenthood had me feeling stupid and kind of unhinged. Kavi was about to turn 11 months old. My husband and I had vowed at the outset not to become hyper-vigilant parents, but we’d lately wondered if we’d instead been too cavalier.
At our last visit to the doctor’s office, I’d been given a questionnaire asking, among other things, whether Kavi had learned at least three words and whether he could respond to at least one simple verbal command. My answer to both: Wait — that’s possible? Also, Kavi was small for his age, which a nurse suggested was because we weren’t feeding him right.
The point being that when I visited this entrepreneur’s website, and it had a picture on it of a fierce little girl in a cape, and the text said something about giving me a superpower, I thought that might do me some good. It might at least better prepare us for the next doctor’s visit. Bring on the questionnaires, I thought.