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Children Could Make Computers Smarter

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  By Rick Nelson, Executive Editor, March 27, 2012

Smart devices, and their developers, may be reprogramming the operating systems of children—that's the conclusion of at least one set of parents whose one-year-old daughter thinks a print magazine is a broken iPad.

However, children might be returning the favor and be contributing to the reprogramming of computers. As Yasmin Anwar of UC Berkeley writes, "People often wonder if computers make children smarter. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are asking the reverse question: Can children make computers smarter? And the answer appears to be ‘yes.’"

UC Berkeley researchers, it turns out, are trying to replicate in machines computational models based on baby brainpower, thereby helping artificial intelligence deal with nuances and uncertainty.

Anwar quotes Alison Gopnik, a developmental psychologist at UC Berkeley, as saying, “Children are the greatest learning machines in the universe. Imagine if computers could learn as much and as quickly as they do.”

This spring, UC Berkeley psychologists, computer scientists, and philosophers will launch a multidisciplinary center at the campus’s Institute of Human Development to conduct further research into what babies and preschoolers can teach computers.

Here's hoping they will be successful, but perhaps they should confine their research to children from birth through one and three through five, omitting the two-year-olds. I don't want my computer throwing tantrums.

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