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Intelligent operating system

An operating system that grows with you
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Being the father of a 2-year-old with a healthy computer fascination, I often find myself wondering why there is not a toddler-OS... Come to mention it why is there not an OS (or at least a GUI) that is appropriate for humans of pre-literacy age? I've tried Sugar and it's getting there, but why not take it one step further? My idea is for a slim-line netowrked OS along the lines of Chrome but which is a lot more intelligent. The fact that it is network based gives it enough longevity to mean that it can grow in complexity independently of the client hardware's capabilities as heavy processing is done server-side. An account is created for a user when they are born and using feedback in the form of webcam input from the client's machine, touch input and sound input from the microphone, the system interacts with the user in a way which is appropriate to their stage of development. For instance, when first born, babies respond to faces and imagery in black, white and red. It is possible to detect the gaze direction of a user and their expression using computer vision algorithms (cf the Human Body Project). Therefore, the system provides appropriate input to encourage the next stage of development such as faces with different expressions (either photographic or in black, white and red) and either senses if the user is copying them or encourages them to pick out the odd expression by looking at it or touching it. In early life, the stages of development are very well defined (i.e. identifying and categorising objects, identifying, copying and reproducing sounds, etc). With a knowledge of the stages of development in a number of areas, the system could adapt to serve the development needs of each individual user and grow with them into something truly useful. By the time they reach maturity, it would know their interests, strengths and weaknesses, preferred ways of working and serve them in ways which are truly valuable to each user. I guess what I'm talking about is the ultimate intelligent agent - an expert system which grows with the user.
dcrow, Dec 30 2009

Wikipedia: Sugar (desktop environment) http://en.wikipedia...ktop_environment%29
The operating system of One Laptop Per Child's XO-1, mentioned in the post. [jutta, Dec 30 2009]

The Diamond Age http://en.wikipedia...iki/The_Diamond_Age
[theircompetitor, Dec 31 2009]

Been there toddler_20mode
This what I came up with when I had my first toddler. [zeno, Jan 01 2010]

[link]






       In order to feel responsive, a graphical user interface must react to the user very quickly and reliably. So, that's just about the last thing in the world you want to be networked or cloud-based - you don't want your screen to freeze when there's a glitch in the network. It can update itself across the network and evolve that way, but keeping the terminals dumb with adaptive, complex interfaces is asking a bit too much.   

       A more basic problem I have with this is that just because we know that a child can perform some test task at a certain stage of development doesn't mean that encouraging that particular task, or the next well-known one on the list, is the best possible thing for the child. It's a toddler version of "teaching to the test". I'll buy that certain things are known to be good - like reading to your child - but that's not enough.   

       Regardless, this could be the next hot thing that frightened parents turn to to give their offspring an advantage, now that we know that those "Baby Einstein" tapes don't work.
jutta, Dec 30 2009
  

       So what you're after is a teaching interface, not an OS that's inherently intelligent?   

       What does that look like? How does it vary from use to use? What happens when it needs to "evolve"? How does it know its user's needs are being met? What if there's more than one child using the system?
phoenix, Dec 31 2009
  

       When I was doing my Computer Science degree in the 80s people were experimenting with expert systems that lived with a Unix shell. It was designed to learn common mistakes the user made and provide a means to correct them.   

       It sounds that emotional computing might be useful for this idea to allow the child to connect and engage with any software. An early success with emotional computing was the Furby, which was designed to be loved by the children that played with it.   

       Fortunately we now know that Furbies are Evil ...
Aristotle, Dec 31 2009
  

       //now that we know that those "Baby Einstein" tapes don't work//   

       Damn, so those squiggles my baby is putting down and erasing on the etch-a-sketch are not iterative attempts for the grand unified theory? Well, I'm filming it all just in case.   

       To phoenix's point, this is not an algorithmic description of how such a system would work, and in the absence of an algorithm, it's a "computers should read our mind" idea.   

       dcrow, if you haven't already, read The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, linked, and published in 1995
theircompetitor, Dec 31 2009
  

       I have indeed read The Diamond Age and like it very much.   

       //It's a toddler version of "teaching to the test"//   

       I am a teacher by profession and as such have an inherent hatred of 'teaching to the test'. In this case, it begs the question: what is the test for a toddler? It seems to me that there are very specific skills which people use to operate and learn effectively in their lives and that those skills, while possibly developed differently in each of us due to the varying stimuli which we encountered whilst developing them, are identical in nature. The jargon of the moment calls them 'thinking skills'. I totally agree that to assume one knows what knowledge is best for a particular individual to know is specious, but knowledge and skills are different. The idea is to encourage the development of skills which can be used to aquire knowledge and understanding. Teach a man to fish and all that...   

       //I'll buy that certain things are known to be good - like reading to your child - but that's not enough.//   

       How do you know that reading to your child specifically is good? Probably because someone tried it or possibly did a 'clinical trial' which showed some connection between reading to your child and literacy in later life. I cannot see the harm in providing opportunities for a child to learn certain skills, as long as it isn't seen by parents as a crutch - like having the TV read them a bedtime story instead of having to do it themselves. And maybe that is a compelling enough argument to never ever develop a system like this - because there will always be those who see it as a replacement rather than a supplement. But you can be sure if it can be done, someone will do it one day... I think my original idea was intended more as a way of creating a better system than a better user. After all - computers are our servants... right? *cue unsettling music*
dcrow, Dec 31 2009
  

       Hey [dcrow] - I got a job-lot of line-breaks wholesale.
Do you want some?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Dec 31 2009
  

       Rather skeptical of the phrase 'healthy computer fascination.' Sounds oxymoronical to me.
RayfordSteele, Jan 01 2010
  

       Hey [AbsintheWithoutLeave], this being my first post on the site I han't realised that single line breaks were ignored by the editor. Hopefully my posts will now be easier for you to read
dcrow, Jan 01 2010
  

       heheh [AWOL] noob been here so long you forgot nobody knows how to do linebreaks right off the bat.   

       [dcrow] type < B R > (except the spaces inbetween) for a CR. Takes a bit of fiddling to figure out what works and what doesn't.
FlyingToaster, Jan 01 2010
  

       Or you can just press return twice.
nineteenthly, Jan 01 2010
  
      
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