Simon the robot has just learned a new skill: transferring a red block from one hand into a coffee cup held by the other. But like an eager preschooler, he wants to know more. "Can I begin here?" he asks, lifting the block high. Simon has two arms, eight fingers, doe eyes, and a monotone voice. With each question and answer, he is doing what roboticist Andrea Thomaz calls "whittling away the hypothesis space," or eliminating information that is not essential. "The idea is that you tell him something, he asks a few questions, you provide a couple examples, then he builds a model," Thomaz says. If the exchange progresses smoothly, Simon is soon folding your laundry.