Kids Run the Darndest Experiments: Causal Learning in Children and Implications for AI with Alison Gopnik

EPISODE 548
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About this Episode

Today we close out the 2021 NeurIPS series joined by Alison Gopnik, a professor at UC Berkeley and an invited speaker at the Causal Inference & Machine Learning: Why now? Workshop. In our conversation with Alison, we explore the question, “how is it that we can know so much about the world around us from so little information?” and how her background in psychology, philosophy, and epistemology has guided her along the path to finding this answer through the actions of children. We discuss the role of causality as a means to extract representations of the world and how the “theory theory” came about, and how it was demonstrated to have merit. We also explore the complexity of causal relationships that children are able to deal with and what that can tell us about our current ML models, how the training and inference stages of the ML lifecycle are akin to childhood and adulthood, and much more!

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Thanks to our sponsor SigOpt

SigOpt was born out of the desire to make experts more efficient. While co-founder Scott Clark was completing his PhD at Cornell he noticed that often the final stage of research was a domain expert tweaking what they had built via trial and error. After completing his PhD, Scott developed MOE to solve this problem, and used it to optimize machine learning models and A/B tests at Yelp. SigOpt was founded in 2014 to bring this technology to every expert in every field.

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