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Children used to make computers smarter

March 15th, 2012
by Tania

Baby pushing digital buttonScientists at the University of California are using babies and youngsters to make computers smarter, tapping the cognitive smarts of babies, toddlers and preschoolers to program computers to think more like humans.

The computer models that are based on baby brainpower could create the foundations of artificial intelligence, which has had difficulty handling nuances and uncertainty in the past.

Alison Gopnik a developmental psychologist at UC Berkeley and author of The Scientist in the Crib and The Philosophical Baby said: “Children are the greatest learning machines in the universe. Imagine if computers could learn as much and as quickly as they do."

Using a wide range of props, such as lollipops and spinning toys, children have been testing hypothesis, detecting statistical patterns and drawing conclusions while constantly adapting to changes. Learning languages and figuring out causal relationships are things that children are experts at, but computers are unable to do.

The researchers believe that they can use this cognitive ability to further computer programming, building it more in line with children's cognitive smarts so they can interact more intelligently and responsively with humans in applications such as computer tutoring programs and phone-answering robots.

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