How good are you at predicting the results of coin tosses? Your age probably has a big effect on the answer.
Outliers doesn't want to sound too paranoid . . . but mankind's greatest hope for battling the takeover of artificial intelligence may lie with the young. A new study published recently in PLOS Computational Biology indicates that people's ability to make random choices or mimic a random process peaks at around age 25-meaning that this is also the age we're best equipped to outsmart computers.
Scientists believe that the ability to behave in a randomized way arises from some of the most highly developed cognitive processes, and that a link exists between randomized behavior abilities and creativity.
To study how age affects random behavior, a team of researchers at the Algorithmic Nature Group in Paris assessed more than 3,400 people ages 4 to 91 by having them perform tasks requiring them to behave randomly. These included listing the hypothetical results of a series of 12 coin flips so they would "look random to someone else," guessing which card would appear when selected from a shuffled deck, and listing the hypothetical results of 10 rolls of dice.
Researchers analyzed the participants' choices according to algorithmic randomness and found that age was the only factor that affected their ability to behave randomly. Think of it as a sort of reverse Turing test for random behavior.