Andrew Pollack's Blog

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Latest conversation with my 7 year old

By Andrew Pollack on 10/11/2006 at 07:28 AM EDT

Talking with my youngest daughter has always fascinated me. She's a geek in all the good sense of that word. She may be the most natural engineer I have ever met. Here's a conversation from this morning, word for word:

Caitlin: Can you open the garage door? Use the special button. I am pretending it only works for you and nobody else.
Me: Actually, there are things that work that way. It's called 'biometric security'. It means things that only work when they can identify something unique about your body.
Caitlin: Like a fingerprint! I'm going to build a robot with biometric security that only listens to me.
<pause>
Caitlin: It will use my handprint.
<pause>
Caitlin: That won't work. I am still growing.
<pause>
Caitlin: My voice! It will use my voice.

Then she headed off for second grade.....

See what I mean?


There are  - loading -  comments....

My own thoughts on this are...By Bob Balaban on 10/11/2006 at 08:21 AM EDT
Very cool!
Tell her to figure out whether there's anything about her eyes that are unique
to her.
Most excellentBy Rob McDonagh on 10/11/2006 at 08:32 AM EDT
If she starts up her own company, let us know so we can get in on the ground
floor.
I'm curious...By Nathan T. Freeman on 10/11/2006 at 02:01 PM EDT
Did it not cross your mind to point out that her voice will change as she grows
as well?

Ask her what she'll do to keep you from just hiding a recording device on her
robot that you can retrieve later. :-)

In any event, that's an awesome conversation.
That would be in line with her thinking. She has a history of this...By Andrew Pollack on 10/11/2006 at 02:37 PM EDT
Recently when I called her from Phoenix and told her I was sitting down for a second because it was so hot, she commented that Phoenix was in a desert. She asked where the water came from for all those people. I told her about deep wells, and a 300 mile long open canal -- like a man made river (the Central Arizon Project) that brings water from the Colorado river. She decided that there were still too many people and they'd empty the river on hot days. I had to explain the use of dams to keep a bunch of extra water around. She thought that was a good idea, but worried that there would be too much of that water in the river evaporating from the sun in the desert for all those miles. She suggested that someone could build a really big tunnel, really deep in the ground so it wouldn't be hot, and then they could make the water go through that instead.

Now, keep in mind nobody had explained to this child the idea of aquaducts. She was just making this stuff up on the fly, solving a problem she decided that the rest of us weren't smart enough to tackle.

She had just turned 7 years old less than month prior.

-- I could tell a hundred more stories like that, going back to three years old.
My own thoughts on this are...By Andy Broyles on 10/11/2006 at 03:50 PM EDT
While I generally don't buy into this 'new agey' type of thing, my mother
pointed me towards this site...

http://www.indigochild.com/

scroll down to the bottom and read about the attributes of an Indigo Child.

Interestingly, I see several child of people whom I respect technologically
(you, Rocky, etc) fitting parts of this dscription perfectly. Your
conversation is a perfect example.
Looks like bullshit to me.By Andrew Pollack on 10/11/2006 at 04:20 PM EDT
The description would fit most of us, and most children at one time or another. It is a classic use of The Barnum Effect.
My own thoughts on this are...By Andy Broyles on 10/11/2006 at 04:36 PM EDT
I pretty much agree with you on this...I just wanted another's opinion.

However, I would wonder if you doing anything special for your daughter's
education.

I have a 10 yr old daughter that is currently in 5th grade in a public school
that has had a less than optimal experience so far. She is an honors student
and in a gifted program, but she has had issues with dealing with the
repetitiveness of a lot of the school work assigned by the teachers and with
the 'immature' nature of the majority of her age peers.
Not an issue so farBy Andrew Pollack on 10/11/2006 at 04:37 PM EDT
We have an excellent school system here.
There are a few biometric techniques that are not effected by ageBy Ian Randall on 10/12/2006 at 10:24 PM EDT
I agree that she sounds like a natural engineer.

However on the topic of biometric identification, many years ago I worked for a
company that designed and built Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) amongst many
other things.

They did some research into a means of remotely identifying people as they
approached the ATM, so they could greet them with an appropriate opening
response and perhaps dispense with the need of a credit card and PIN.

One of the techniques they explored involved essentially smelling the persons
dna, although that was not always reliable if the wind was too strong. But a
persons dna isn't effected by age and can't be easily copied.

Another technique was to sense a persons aura, using a type of Kirlian
photograpy. Each persons aura is unique and the research team was able to get
a reliable identification from between 10 - 20 metres away. A persons aura is
not effected by age and other environmental factors.

In fact the technique was so interesting that it drew the attention of the CIA,
who wanted to explore if the range could be extended for satellite tracking of
'persons of interest'. I don't know how that research panned out for them, but
they seemed really excited about that potential at the time. If they did get
it to work, perhaps al-Qaeda have developed an effective counter measure.
She will like that books..By Stephan H. Wissel on 10/14/2006 at 03:01 AM EDT
We were just finishing reading the 12 books of "A series of unfortunate events"
to my 6 year olds (book 13 just came out yesterday in the US). One of the
heroes is Violet, a young girl with outstanding invention skills.
:-) stw


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