Friday, June 7 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Keynote Talk - The Surprisingly Logical Minds of Babies LIMITED
Limited Capacity seats available

By the time children are five years-old, they have solved all the hard problems of cognitive science: problems of face recognition, natural scene understanding, motor planning, navigation, number understanding, causal reasoning, language acquisition, understanding others’ thoughts, desires, and feelings, and understanding right and wrong.  The rapidity, robustness, and flexibility of children’s learning exceeds anything mastered by our most powerful artificial intelligence systems – and yet children achieve this remarkable learning while they appear to be busy climbing on jungle gyms, playing with blocks, and talking to stuffed animals.  Here I will talk about children’s remarkable ability to draw rich, abstract inferences from sparse data – and the puzzling gap between our formal theories of learning and the actual behavior of our most powerful learners.  I will point to the ways that children’s play has provided insight into the ways that they learn (and the many mysteries that remain), and I will show experiments looking at the relationship between uncertainty and children’s exploratory play, and trade-offs between exploration and instruction.  In the second part of the talk, I will discuss how children deploy some of their remarkable learning abilities to reason about their own and others’ goals, abilities, and emotions.  I will also introduce a new, open source, online developmental laboratory (Lookit!), which has the potential to expand both the questions we ask and the populations we reach.  I’ll end with some thoughts about what cognitive science has to offer education – and more importantly, the ways that educators might help transform the practice of cognitive science.  Finally, time allowing, I’ll show a few cartoons.

avatar for Laura Schulz

Laura Schulz

Professor of Cognitive Science, MIT
Laura Schulz is a Professor of Cognitive Science in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. She received her BA (in philosophy) from the University of Michigan in 1992 and spent seven years working in experiential and alternative education, primarily in Oregon. She... Read More →