AI and Children’s Brains

Experts say the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) will make most people better off over the next decade, but many have concerns about how advances in AI will affect what it means to be human, to be productive, and to exercise free will.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals, which involves consciousness and emotionality. AI is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience. Psychologists generally do not characterize human intelligence by just one trait but by the combination of many diverse abilities. Research in AI has focused chiefly on the following components of intelligence: learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, and using language.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a research priority for a growing number of countries. Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to enhance productivity and innovation around the world. The expected benefits promise to be transformative, but the negative repercussions could be magnified in developing countries, where the livelihoods of many people are precarious and social institutions can be fragile.

Artificial intelligence and human development

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada stated that AI’s influence will be widespread because it can be integrated with other technologies and applied to almost any activity that involves information and communication technologies. In an effort to improve understanding of how to ethically and equitably implement AI in the development context, IDRC has published the white paper: Artificial intelligence and human development. It outlines the potential benefits and risks of this new technology and presents a proactive research agenda to address challenges posed by AI that are of particular concern in the developing world.

According to the online platform Frontiers in Psychology (FIP), recent years have been marked by important developments in artificial intelligence (AI). These developments have highlighted serious limitations in human rationality and shown that computers can be highly creative. There are also important positive outcomes for psychologists studying creativity. It is now possible to design entirely new classes of experiments that are more promising than the simple tasks typically used for studying creativity in psychology. In addition, given the current and future AI algorithms for developing new data structures and programs, novel theories of creativity are on the horizon. Thus, AI opens up entirely new avenues for studying human creativity in psychology.

Children’s Brains may hold the Secret to building better AI.

Four-year-old children can learn things even the most intelligent machine cannot. It is time AI researchers took note. The mathematician and computer science pioneer Alan Turing hit on a promising direction for artificial intelligence research way back in 1950. Everyone remembers that Alan Turing proposed the imitation game to test whether a machine was intelligent. If a human being sat at a keyboard and couldn’t tell whether she was talking to a machine or a person, then the machine would have passed “the Turing test.” This has been known as the Turing’s intelligence test. However, almost no one remembers that in the very same paper Turing suggested that the key to achieving intelligence would be to design a machine that was like a child, not an adult. “Instead of trying to produce a program to simulate the adult mind,” he wrote, “why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child’s?” He pointed out, presciently, that the real secret to human intelligence is our ability to learn. Learning has been at the center of the new revival of AI. For the last 15 years or so computer scientists and developmental cognitive scientists have been trying to figure out how children learn so much so quickly, and how to design a machine that could do the same. Now AI researchers are finally putting Turing’s ideas into action. They are realizing that by paying attention to how children process information, they can pick up valuable lessons about how to create machines that learn.

This article is provided by Dr. Ralph Kueche (Child Psychologist). Dr. Kuechle is a Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychologist who specializes in treating children and their families who may be struggling with mood and behavioral issues. Learn more about Dr. Kuechle.