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Child Neuropsychology A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed
  • Robots and Child Development: The curiosity cycle- a review

    I have recently been reading a very interesting book on the impact of technology on children.  The Curiosity Cycle by Jonathan Mugan is particularly interesting because Jonathan has a degree in psychology and is a researcher in machine learning.  His area of research is about how robots can learn about the world in the same way that human children do.  He is in a good position to tell us about what is happening with robot development and what we should do about it.

    The book is divided into three parts.  Firstly there is a section on how children construct a view of the world and how this can used to stimulate curiosity .  This section is packed with ideas for parents and teachers about how to encourage curiosity in children.  Jonathan is particularly good at tips for stimulating curiosity in Math, normally a hard subject to be interested in.

    The second section is about how children’s curiosity is shaped by physical exploration (children are embodied creatures- a very current topic) and by interaction with others.  Again there are tips on how to encourage these areas of development.

    Finally and most interesting part for me is how technology is advancing and the impact of this on children’s development.  Jonathan explains in a very thought provoking way how robots and computers are developing and the ways this will shape our children’s lives.   The pace of change he highlights is quite astonishing.   There are going to be many opportunities but also there is some caution -  “Children shouldn’t spend too much time connected since their embodied selves were meant to be out in the sunshine”.  The key point is that while computers and robots are going to be able to do amazing things, where humans have the advantage is in their curiosity.  ”Curiosity will allow your child to go beyond answering questions to asking the right questions and to make inferences beyond the information explicitly given“.

    Overall the book is very clear and readable.  It is thought provoking but also practical.  Jonathan provides a number of media resources.   I would thoroughly recommend to anyone with or working with kids now.  The world is changing and we and our children need to be prepared.

    Published on March 29, 2012 · Filed under: Uncategorized, brain development, robots;
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