Sense,Human brain,Artificial neural network,Humanoid robot,Robot,Human,ICub,Research,Learning

Robots are helping to uncover how kids learn about the world around them

November 30, 2016
in Kids

There’s a lot of focus on looking at the means by which humans learn and using these insights to make machines smarter. This is the entire basis for artificial neural networks, which try to replicate a simple model of the human brain inside a machine. However, the opposite can be true as well: Examining robots can help reveal how we as humans absorb and make sense of new information. That’s the basis for a new research project, carried out out by researchers in the United Kingdom. Looking to understand more about how young kids learn new words, they programmed a humanoid robot called iCub — equipped with a microphone and camera — to learn new words. Their conclusion? That children may well learn new words in a similar way to robots; based less on conscious thought than on an automatic ability to associate objects. “We were interested in finding out whether it’s possible to learn words without a complex reasoning ability,” Katie Twomey, a psychology department researcher from the U.K.’s Lancaster University, told Digital Trends. “To explore this we used the iCub humanoid robot, which learns by making simple links between what it sees and what it hears. Importantly, iCub can’t think explicitly about what it knows. We reasoned...

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