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Scientists Tap the Genius of Babies and Youngsters to Make Computers Smarter

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Boy Scientist

Credit: University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley researchers are studying how babies, toddlers, and preschoolers learn in order to program computers to think more like humans.

The researchers say computational models based on the brainpower of young children could give a major boost to artificial intelligence research. "Children are the greatest learning machines in the universe," says Berkeley's Alison Gopnik. "Imagine if computers could learn as much and as quickly as they do."

The researchers have found that children test hypotheses, detect statistical patterns, and form conclusions while constantly adapting to changes. “Young children are capable of solving problems that still pose a challenge for computers, such as learning languages and figuring out causal relationships,” says Berkeley's Tom Griffiths.

The researchers say computers programmed with children's cognitive abilities could interact more intelligently and responsively with humans in applications such as computer tutoring programs and phone-answering robots. They are planning to launch a multidisciplinary center at the campus' Institute of Human Development to pursue their research.

The researchers note that the exploratory and probabilistic reasoning demonstrated by young children could make computers smarter and more adaptable.

From UC Berkeley News Center 
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