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curiosity gap

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The curiosity gap is the detection that new and valuable information is available, sparking people’s desire to access it. The term curiosity gap refers to the psychological effect created when someone is aware of that discrepancy and is motivated to resolve it. Curiosity is an important component of intrinsically-motivated learning. It’s what drives babies to explore their surroundings as soon as they are physically able, and it's what makes older children and adults continue to want to learn more about the world around them.

The curiosity gap is explored in a number of areas in business and technology. Marketers study how human curiosity works in an attempt to drive readers to access content. That may be accomplished in an open and straightforward way, or not. A common practice is hyperbolic clickbait titles that hint at some information that the readers will gain. Unfortunately, the titles tend to overpromise while the content underdelivers.

A current focus in artificial intelligence is the attempt to replicate the human capacity for curiosity in software, to enhance self-directed machine learning. A curious AI system might detect that its information is incomplete in some particular scenario and then seek out or develop a means of finding the information it lacks. Curiosity is one component required for artificial general intelligence (AGI, also known as strong AI), the representation of generalized human cognitive abilities in software so that, faced with an unfamiliar task, an AI system could find a solution.

This was last updated in June 2019

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