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Study Shows Toddlers And Robots Learn New Words The Same Way

flickr / Mark Longair

If your kid has ever acted like a malfunctioning host out of Westworld, rest assured it might not be in your head. New research from Lancaster University suggests that toddlers actually learn new words the same way robots do. This may explain why yours has such a deep connection with Alexa. They just get each other.

These findings revolve around the mutual exclusivity theory. Developmental psychologists believe young children learn new words by a process of elimination using what they already know. As Dr. Katie Twomey, a psychologist who helped conduct the study, explains: “our toddler can work out that the new word ‘giraffe’ refers to a new toy, when they can also see 2 others, called ‘duck’ and ‘rabbit.'” Basically, new object, new word assigned.

The team of psychologists then programmed a humanoid robot with simple software and gave it the proportions of a 3-year-old (plus the name iCub). They found that it learned the same way when shown several familiar toys and one new one. Whether kids process information like robots, or robots process information like kids, is anyone’s guess. (This probably deserves further study.) Who knows, these todbots could teach psychologists and experts a lot in the future about how children learn. Or at least show them how the uprising will start.

[H/T] Science Daily