Posted by: crudbasher | March 15, 2012

Implications Of Computers That Can Learn

This is a fascinating article on several levels. Researchers are studying how very young children learn in the hopes of having computers learn the same way. After reading the article I came to several conclusions.

  1. The researchers claim that children learn the most quickly in free-form play. In other words, in exploration rather than directed learning.
  2. They also found that children tended to accept evidence no matter what direction it led. This makes sense as they have very few preconceptions at that age.
  3. Having computers that can learn in the same way as babies, coupled with their vast speed, coupled with direct access to the Internet will cause them to evolve very quickly. It is entirely possible that the first real Artificial Intelligences will not be created, but evolved. I would not be at all surprised if the scientists who do this won’t completely understand how it all works.
  4. This is all related to a big trend in technology which is our machines are becoming aware of the world around them and beginning to understand it.
  5. A computer able to observe and learn would make a great lifelong tutor.  See my post last week called How Personalized Learning Will Take Off.

Of the other thing to take away from this article is the realization that children learn much more from self-directed exploration rather than structured instruction. That sort of blows away the factory school pedagogy doesn’t it?

There is a video that goes along with this article.


    • UC Berkeley researchers are tapping the cognitive smarts of babies, toddlers and preschoolers to program computers to think more like humans.


      If replicated in machines, the computational models based on baby brainpower could give a major boost to artificial intelligence, which historically has had difficulty handling nuances and uncertainty, researchers said

    • “Young children are capable of solving problems that still pose a challenge for computers, such as learning languages and figuring out causal relationships,” said Tom Griffiths, director of UC Berkeley’s Computational Cognitive Science Lab. “We are hoping to make computers smarter by making them a little more like children.”


      For example, researchers said, computers programmed with kids’ cognitive smarts could interact more intelligently and responsively with humans in applications such as computer tutoring programs and phone-answering robots.

    • A growing body of child cognition research at UC Berkeley suggests that parents and educators put aside the flash cards, electronic learning games and rote-memory tasks and set kids free to discover and investigate.


      “Spontaneous and ‘pretend play’ is just as important as reading and writing drills,” Gopnik said.

    • Adults, meanwhile, stop using their powers of imagination and hypothetical reasoning as they focus on what is most relevant to their goals, Gopnik said. The combination of goal-minded adults and open-minded children is ideal for teaching computers new tricks.


      “We need both blue-sky speculation and hard-nosed planning,” Gopnik said.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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