Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a form of artificial curiosity which can learn to complete complex tasks even when it isn’t immediately clear what actions might help it meet its objectives.
Computer scientists are programming machines to be curious, learning to explore their surroundings and be inquisitive.
George Konidaris, computer scientist at the Intelligent Robot Lab at Brown University told Science: “Developing curiosity is a problem that’s core to intelligence. It’s going to be most useful when you’re not sure what your robot is going to have to do in the future.”
Although 8 in 10 employees say curiosity is an important work trait, just one in five say they are curious, according to an international stugy by Merck. “Innovation and technological progress do not appear out of the blue. They always develop out of a person’s sense of curiosity about something new. Scientific curiosity and the joy of discovery are thus our most important resources when it comes to finding answers to global challenges such as the aging of our society or population growth,” says Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck. “That’s why curiosity should be a key aspect of our everyday work.”
Read the State of Curiosity Report here.
The president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science argues for the value of curiosity-driven science pursued without regard for immediate application. Barbara Schaal, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and president of AAAS, called for more effective communication and public engagement by scientists in explaining their work, both to policy-makers and to the general public.