– Find out how if your girlfriend really will flirt with your best friend when you back is turned?
– Outwit your enemies as they plot against you in the dead of the night?
– Find out just what will happen to your boss if you were to lock him in his office at 5pm with a wedge under the door?
– Just find out how many people it really does take to make your nervous co-worker feel claustrophobic.
Well, you can’t do those things right now but you might also be able to do that in the future thanks to new and improved computer behavior modeling techniques.
Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology department has created a computer model that can predict how people will complete a controlled task and how the knowledge needed to complete that task develops over time.
Frank Ritter, associate professor of IST and psychology, and his research associates, used the Soar programming language, which is designed to represent human knowledge, on a 20-trial circuit troubleshooting task most recently done by 10 students at the University of Nottingham, UK.
Each participant was to identify faults in a circuit system after memorizing the organization of its components and switches. This process was repeated 20 times for each person, with the series of tests chosen randomly each time. Their choices and reaction times were recorded and compared with the computer model’s results.
Much like the students, the computer model, called Diag, learned as it went through each test and developed the knowledge for completing the task quickly and efficiently.
“The model does not merely accurately predict problem-solving time for the human participants; it also replicates the strategy that human participants use, and it learns at the same rate at which the participants learn,” Ritter said.
In most cases, the model came within two to four seconds of predicting how long it would take each participant to solve the problem and it fit eight out of the 10 participants’ problem-solving times very well.
“The project shows we can predict human learning on a fine-grained level,” Ritter said. “Everyone thinks that’s possible, but here’s an actual model doing it. The model provides a detailed representation of how a transfer works, and that transfer process is really what education is about.”
So, you may have to get your potential victim to spend some time with the machine, but once that happens you can predict with comfort and ease.