Child with VR goggles on

When (and why) children are smarter than adults, and AI too

Understanding children may also be the key to genuinely intelligent machines
Young children are actually better at learning unusual or unlikely principles than adults. Professor Alison Gopnik's research relates this pattern to computational ideas about search and sampling, evolutionary ideas about human life history, and neuroscience findings about plasticity.

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. 

Her hypothesis is that the evolution of our distinctively long, protected human childhood allows an early period of broad hypothesis search, exploration and creativity before the demands of goal-directed action set in.

This event was held on Wednesday 11 September at the University of Sydney.

The speakers

Alison received her BA from McGill University and her PhD from Oxford University. She is an internationally recognised 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 also written widely about cognitive science and psychology for ScienceThe New York TimesScientific AmericanThe AtlanticThe New YorkerThe Times Literary SupplementThe New York Review of BooksNew Scientist, and Slate, among others. Her TED talk on her work has been viewed more than four million times.

Céline joined the University of Sydney in January 2018 and is only the second woman in history to be Head of the School for Physics. As an astroparticle physicist, Céline has worked around the world, most recently as Chair of Physics at the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology at Durham University, in the UK, for seven years. She has previously held academic positions in physics at the Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique Théorique in France, CERN in Switzerland, and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Event image: Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash

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