Edith Law and her colleagues form Inria Associate Team to develop personalized curious tech to support lifelong learning

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Principal investigators Professor Edith Law at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and Professor Hélène Sauzéon at Université de Bordeaux have been funded to create an Associate Team at Inria, France’s National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology. Inria’s Associate Team program supports bilateral scientific collaborations and promotes and strengthens the institute’s strategic partnerships with leading researchers abroad.

The research consortium, titled Curiosity-driven Learning Across the Lifespan, or CuriousTech for short, will be directed by Professors Edith Law and Myra Fernandes at the University of Waterloo and Professors Hélène Sauzéon and Pierre-Yves Oudeyer at the Inria Centre at the University of Bordeaux. They will lead a team of research associates, postdoctoral researchers and grad students, bringing together their expertise across the cognitive sciences, education research, aging research, and human-computer interaction.

“The research our international team will conduct will produce new understandings of the role of curiosity in education and health by designing and assessing new interactive educational technologies,” said Professor Law. “Beyond academic contributions, we expect that the technologies we develop will help address broader societal challenges, such as educational equality in school and the needs of older adults with cognitive aging conditions.”

CuriousTech will build upon the findings and technologies developed from three previous Inria-funded University of Bordeaux–University of Waterloo collaborative projects. CuriousTech’s goal is to create educational technologies that use curiosity as the key ingredient to meet the learning needs of individuals across all ages and cognitive abilities to enhance their health and well-being.

photo of Professor Edith Law

Edith Law, an Associate Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, directs the Augmented Intelligence Lab and co-directs the Human-Computer Interaction Lab.

She is broadly interested in social computing technology that coordinates small groups to large crowds, new models of interactions with machine intelligence, and how technology can be designed to foster and celebrate certain human values.

About CuriousTech

In a famous quote to his biographer Carl Seeling, Albert Einstein wrote, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” In that brief comment, Einstein captured what we believe to be intuitively true — that being curious is at the heart of learning, discovery and growth.

To this end, CuriousTech will design educational programs to support intrinsically motivating and personalized learning, including the unique educational needs of children with atypical neurodevelopment and adults with age-related cognitive conditions, while achieving foundational education objectives.

Personalization is a core challenge of education, as everyone is unique and may require different approaches to learn. Educational apps that adapt to individual needs can help children acquire fundamental numeracy and literacy skills, as well as help older adults manage cognitive decline. The CuriousTech team will leverage fundamental research on curiosity from artificial intelligence and the cognitive sciences to design and assess the effectiveness of personalized educational technologies.

Curiosity is critically important for self-actualization, resilience, well-being, and quality of life for people of all ages. Recent research on curiosity at the intersection of computer science, cognitive science and neuroscience has shown that activities that are the most intrinsically motivating for individuals are those that are self-chosen. The CuriousTech research team will expand on this research to develop an original, cross-disciplinary approach that links curiosity-driven learning across all ages with new educational technologies, using both curiosity-related models and artificial intelligence techniques to personalize learning, maximize curiosity and learning outcomes.


Waterloo–Inria Associate Teams and International Research Chairs

NetMSS — NETwork Monitoring and Service orchestration for Softwarized networks
2018–2020; renewed 2022–2024
NetMSS is an Associate Team formed between Inria RESIST and the University of Waterloo focusing on network softwarization and network security. NetMSS is led by Jérôme François, Inria Research scientist, and by Raouf Boutaba, Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science. Professor Raouf Boutaba also held an Inria International Research Chair (2017–2022) attached to Inria RESIST at Nancy Grand-Est.

Loki
2018–2020
Loki’s research explored original ideas, fundamental knowledge, and practical tools to inspire, inform and support the design of human-computer interactions. The late Professor Edward Lank held an Inria International Research Chair attached to the Loki team at the Inria Centre at the University of Lille.

Symbolic
2022–2024
Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Éric Schost is the Waterloo principal investigator on Symbolic, an Inria Associate Team focusing on symbolic computation research.

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