Very young children routinely solve causal problems that are still very challenging for machine learning systems. I will outline several exciting recent lines of work looking at young children’s causal reasoning and learning and comparing it to learning in various computational models. This includes work on the selection of relevant test variables, learning abstract and analogical relationships, and, most importantly, techniques for active learning and causal exploration.
Alison Gopnik (University of California at Berkeley)
Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD. from Oxford University. She is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children’s learning and development and was one of the founders of the field of “theory of mind”, an originator of the “theory theory” of children’s development and more recently introduced the idea that probabilistic models and Bayesian inference could be applied to children’s learning. She has held a Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences Fellowship, the Moore Distinguished Scholar fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, the All Souls College Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at Oxford, and King’s College Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at Cambridge. She is an elected member of the Society of Experimental Psychologists and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society. She has been continuously supported by the NSF and was PI on a 2.5 million dollar interdisciplinary collaborative grant on causal learning from the McDonnell Foundation. She is the author or coauthor of over 100 journal articles and several books including “Words, thoughts and theories” MIT Press, 1997, and the bestselling and critically acclaimed popular books “The Scientist in the Crib” William Morrow, 1999, and “The Philosophical Baby; What children’s minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life”, which won the Cognitive Development Society Best Book Prize in 2011, and The Gardener and the Carpenter, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009, 2016. She has also written widely about cognitive science and psychology for Science, The New York Times, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, New Scientist and Slate, among others. Her TED talk on her work has been viewed more than 2.8 million times. And she has frequently appeared on TV and radio including “The Charlie Rose Show” and “The Colbert Report”. Since 2013 she has written the Mind and Matter column for the Wall Street Journal.
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