Learning in the Time of Generative AI – May 16th, 2023

I listened to a podcast recently with Ezra Klein (find it here) about adopting a beginner’s mind and how we may lose the beginner’s mind as we age. During this episode, he talked with Dr. Alison Gopnik, who focuses on children and their development and how they learn. This conversation was illuminating to me and got me to think about things in several ways. 

Specifically, the concepts of explore versus exploit in our development from children to adults. As children, we are exploring and obtaining information, playing with information, and we don’t know what to make of certain things that adults take at certainty. There is value in this type of play for children as it eventually leads to the exploitation of the knowledge you get from exploring. 

There is a spectrum of moving from exploring to exploiting that we value and expect in our development. A lot of the time, we see this as gaining intelligence as we move from exploration to exploitation. Once we have the knowledge and know how to use it, we exploit it to earn a living and create useful things in the world. 

The tenet of this conversation was that the explorer side of ourselves, or the beginner’s mind, is something we shouldn’t necessarily see as getting past that as we grow into adulthood. We shouldn’t discount the child’s consciousness as they have more of the explorer’s brain because it is helpful to us as adults. We lose that explorer’s brain to some degree. 

The main takeaway from this comparison of explorer and exploitation is that as we access more of our explorer’s brain, we might see more possibilities to deal with all the uncertainty and changes happening, including with generative AI. 

This is just touching the surface of this episode; continue the conversation with me below.