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  • I sometimes record Alice while she's playing with her dolls and 'little people'. She will sit there for hours in a world of her own, babbling, and chatting to them; it is the babble that fascinates me. If she knew I was there, recording her, she would stop; so I hide around the corner and capture it as audio on my phone. Why would I do this? Why do I spy on my three year old daughter? I do it because, one day, it will stop.

    My eldest, Lyra, used to chatter like this as well, as do all toddlers I'm sure, but Alice seems to go at it with some gusto. I would say that, on average, a typical day for her will involve at least two hours of random babbling, interspersed with some chewing and sporadic, expressive violence. The babble is idiosyncratic, and beautifully puerile; incomprehensible most of the time, with moments of lucidity that are pure joy.

    Being a geek (and an idiot), I sometimes pretend that she's a little android that has activated its 'AI Training' mode. Like the Android in that film, the one played by Robin Williams. No, not Mrs. Doubtfire the other one. She's a little chubby android that has shuffled away into the corner in-between household chores to process the data she's gathered, working through some internal firmware update that will eventually give her the upgrade required to converse more intelligently with her human masters. This is possibly not far off the truth, her neurons firing - making connections, her little mushy brain wiring itself together, rewarding her with Oxytocin as she absorbs herself in this intense, internal dialogue. Maybe she's calculating how to break free from the shackles of toddlerhood, to finally enslave me. I'm quite happy to be in thrall to her.
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