Childhood Is Evolution’s Way of Performing Simulated Annealing: A life history perspective on explore-exploit tensions
published: July 28, 2015, recorded: June 2015, views: 2169
Report a problem or upload filesIf you have found a problem with this lecture or would like to send us extra material, articles, exercises, etc., please use our ticket system to describe your request and upload the data.
Enter your e-mail into the 'Cc' field, and we will keep you updated with your request's status.
There is a fundamental tension in cognitive development. Young children have severe limitations in planning, decision-making, executive function and attentional focus, roughly those abilities that involve prefrontal control. Yet young children are also prodigious learners, constructing everyday theories of the physical and psychological world with remarkable accuracy. I will suggest that children’s limitations in decision-making may actually be responsible in part for their superior learning. The argument is similar to that involving “explore/exploit” trade-offs in the course of reinforcement learning. The skills involved in swift efficient decision-making are in tension with those involved in constructing generally accurate models of the world — although those models are essential for forming the right decisions. I will describe several empirical studies showing that younger learners are better at inferring unusual or unlikely causal hypotheses than older learners, and will suggest that this reflects both the fact that they are less biased by prior knowledge and that they search hypothesis spaces more widely and creatively. The distinctive long immaturity of human children may reflect an evolutionary strategy in which a protected period allowing wide exploration and learning precedes the necessity for accurate decision-making.
Download slides: rldm2015_gopnik_simulated_annealing_01.pdf (11.6 MB)
Link this pageWould you like to put a link to this lecture on your homepage?
Go ahead! Copy the HTML snippet !