False Beliefs

I’ve been reading cognitive psychology this morning trying to get my projects done for the end of the semester. I ran across an interesting experiment along the lines of Piaget’s conservation of volume.

In the false belief experiment a child is shown a box full of candy while two experimenters are in the room. One of the experimenters leaves and the other replaces the candy in the box with pencils and closes the box. When the experimenter returns the child is asked what the absent experimenter thinks is in the box.

Up until the age of three, children will think that the absent person believes the box to contain pencils because they can’t yet understand that what they know is not somehow also known by the other person as well.

There’s some interesting work at the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Laboratory on an architecture that reproduces the development of false belief in artificial intelligences in Second Life.

In the first example, the AI fails to understand that the absent party has a false belief:

And in the next, an AI modeling an adult does have that ability:

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