Studying, decorating, training for a run – we put a high value on goals that require work. Effort makes a reward more satisfying, more valuable even. Although this all sounds very 'grown-up', we have similar motivating beliefs from a very early age. This is one of a series of videos shown to 10-month old babies. The red character is seen weighing up the effort of leaping a chasm to join his blue or yellow friends. Jumping to the yellow buddy requires more effort, implying a greater reward. After seeing this, the babies expected red to reunite with yellow instead of blue when there were no obstacles in the way. Researchers are now using these simple principles to train computer models, with the aim of producing artificial intelligence that learns to 'think' more like an economist, or a 10-month old.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.