An important goal in artificial intelligence is to create agents that can both interact naturally with humans and learn from their feedback. Here we demonstrate how to use reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) to improve upon simulated, embodied agents trained to a base level of competency with imitation learning. First, we collected data of humans interacting with agents in a simulated 3D world. We then asked annotators to record moments where they believed that agents either progressed toward or regressed from their human-instructed goal. Using this annotation data we leveraged a novel method - which we call "Inter-temporal Bradley-Terry" (IBT) modelling - to build a reward model that captures human judgments. Agents trained to optimise rewards delivered from IBT reward models improved with respect to all of our metrics, including subsequent human judgment during live interactions with agents. Altogether our results demonstrate how one can successfully leverage human judgments to improve agent behaviour, allowing us to use reinforcement learning in complex, embodied domains without programmatic reward functions. Videos of agent behaviour may be found at https://youtu.be/v_Z9F2_eKk4.
Human language learners are exposed to a trickle of informative, context-sensitive language, but a flood of raw sensory data. Through both social language use and internal processes of rehearsal and practice, language learners are able to build high-level, semantic representations that explain their perceptions. Here, we take inspiration from such processes of "inner speech" in humans (Vygotsky, 1934) to better understand the role of intra-agent speech in embodied behavior. First, we formally pose intra-agent speech as a semi-supervised problem and develop two algorithms that enable visually grounded captioning with little labeled language data. We then experimentally compute scaling curves over different amounts of labeled data and compare the data efficiency against a supervised learning baseline. Finally, we incorporate intra-agent speech into an embodied, mobile manipulator agent operating in a 3D virtual world, and show that with as few as 150 additional image captions, intra-agent speech endows the agent with the ability to manipulate and answer questions about a new object without any related task-directed experience (zero-shot). Taken together, our experiments suggest that modelling intra-agent speech is effective in enabling embodied agents to learn new tasks efficiently and without direct interaction experience.
Creating agents that can interact naturally with humans is a common goal in artificial intelligence (AI) research. However, evaluating these interactions is challenging: collecting online human-agent interactions is slow and expensive, yet faster proxy metrics often do not correlate well with interactive evaluation. In this paper, we assess the merits of these existing evaluation metrics and present a novel approach to evaluation called the Standardised Test Suite (STS). The STS uses behavioural scenarios mined from real human interaction data. Agents see replayed scenario context, receive an instruction, and are then given control to complete the interaction offline. These agent continuations are recorded and sent to human annotators to mark as success or failure, and agents are ranked according to the proportion of continuations in which they succeed. The resulting STS is fast, controlled, interpretable, and representative of naturalistic interactions. Altogether, the STS consolidates much of what is desirable across many of our standard evaluation metrics, allowing us to accelerate research progress towards producing agents that can interact naturally with humans. https://youtu.be/YR1TngGORGQ
It would be useful for machines to use computers as humans do so that they can aid us in everyday tasks. This is a setting in which there is also the potential to leverage large-scale expert demonstrations and human judgements of interactive behaviour, which are two ingredients that have driven much recent success in AI. Here we investigate the setting of computer control using keyboard and mouse, with goals specified via natural language. Instead of focusing on hand-designed curricula and specialized action spaces, we focus on developing a scalable method centered on reinforcement learning combined with behavioural priors informed by actual human-computer interactions. We achieve state-of-the-art and human-level mean performance across all tasks within the MiniWob++ benchmark, a challenging suite of computer control problems, and find strong evidence of cross-task transfer. These results demonstrate the usefulness of a unified human-agent interface when training machines to use computers. Altogether our results suggest a formula for achieving competency beyond MiniWob++ and towards controlling computers, in general, as a human would.
A common vision from science fiction is that robots will one day inhabit our physical spaces, sense the world as we do, assist our physical labours, and communicate with us through natural language. Here we study how to design artificial agents that can interact naturally with humans using the simplification of a virtual environment. We show that imitation learning of human-human interactions in a simulated world, in conjunction with self-supervised learning, is sufficient to produce a multimodal interactive agent, which we call MIA, that successfully interacts with non-adversarial humans 75% of the time. We further identify architectural and algorithmic techniques that improve performance, such as hierarchical action selection. Altogether, our results demonstrate that imitation of multi-modal, real-time human behaviour may provide a straightforward and surprisingly effective means of imbuing agents with a rich behavioural prior from which agents might then be fine-tuned for specific purposes, thus laying a foundation for training capable agents for interactive robots or digital assistants. A video of MIA's behaviour may be found at https://youtu.be/ZFgRhviF7mY
A common vision from science fiction is that robots will one day inhabit our physical spaces, sense the world as we do, assist our physical labours, and communicate with us through natural language. Here we study how to design artificial agents that can interact naturally with humans using the simplification of a virtual environment. This setting nevertheless integrates a number of the central challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) research: complex visual perception and goal-directed physical control, grounded language comprehension and production, and multi-agent social interaction. To build agents that can robustly interact with humans, we would ideally train them while they interact with humans. However, this is presently impractical. Therefore, we approximate the role of the human with another learned agent, and use ideas from inverse reinforcement learning to reduce the disparities between human-human and agent-agent interactive behaviour. Rigorously evaluating our agents poses a great challenge, so we develop a variety of behavioural tests, including evaluation by humans who watch videos of agents or interact directly with them. These evaluations convincingly demonstrate that interactive training and auxiliary losses improve agent behaviour beyond what is achieved by supervised learning of actions alone. Further, we demonstrate that agent capabilities generalise beyond literal experiences in the dataset. Finally, we train evaluation models whose ratings of agents agree well with human judgement, thus permitting the evaluation of new agent models without additional effort. Taken together, our results in this virtual environment provide evidence that large-scale human behavioural imitation is a promising tool to create intelligent, interactive agents, and the challenge of reliably evaluating such agents is possible to surmount.
Recent work has shown how predictive modeling can endow agents with rich knowledge of their surroundings, improving their ability to act in complex environments. We propose question-answering as a general paradigm to decode and understand the representations that such agents develop, applying our method to two recent approaches to predictive modeling -action-conditional CPC (Guo et al., 2018) and SimCore (Gregor et al., 2019). After training agents with these predictive objectives in a visually-rich, 3D environment with an assortment of objects, colors, shapes, and spatial configurations, we probe their internal state representations with synthetic (English) questions, without backpropagating gradients from the question-answering decoder into the agent. The performance of different agents when probed this way reveals that they learn to encode factual, and seemingly compositional, information about objects, properties and spatial relations from their physical environment. Our approach is intuitive, i.e. humans can easily interpret responses of the model as opposed to inspecting continuous vectors, and model-agnostic, i.e. applicable to any modeling approach. By revealing the implicit knowledge of objects, quantities, properties and relations acquired by agents as they learn, question-conditional agent probing can stimulate the design and development of stronger predictive learning objectives.
Humans spend a remarkable fraction of waking life engaged in acts of "mental time travel". We dwell on our actions in the past and experience satisfaction or regret. More than merely autobiographical storytelling, we use these event recollections to change how we will act in similar scenarios in the future. This process endows us with a computationally important ability to link actions and consequences across long spans of time, which figures prominently in addressing the problem of long-term temporal credit assignment; in artificial intelligence (AI) this is the question of how to evaluate the utility of the actions within a long-duration behavioral sequence leading to success or failure in a task. Existing approaches to shorter-term credit assignment in AI cannot solve tasks with long delays between actions and consequences. Here, we introduce a new paradigm for reinforcement learning where agents use recall of specific memories to credit actions from the past, allowing them to solve problems that are intractable for existing algorithms. This paradigm broadens the scope of problems that can be investigated in AI and offers a mechanistic account of behaviors that may inspire computational models in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics.
Animals execute goal-directed behaviours despite the limited range and scope of their sensors. To cope, they explore environments and store memories maintaining estimates of important information that is not presently available. Recently, progress has been made with artificial intelligence (AI) agents that learn to perform tasks from sensory input, even at a human level, by merging reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms with deep neural networks, and the excitement surrounding these results has led to the pursuit of related ideas as explanations of non-human animal learning. However, we demonstrate that contemporary RL algorithms struggle to solve simple tasks when enough information is concealed from the sensors of the agent, a property called "partial observability". An obvious requirement for handling partially observed tasks is access to extensive memory, but we show memory is not enough; it is critical that the right information be stored in the right format. We develop a model, the Memory, RL, and Inference Network (MERLIN), in which memory formation is guided by a process of predictive modeling. MERLIN facilitates the solution of tasks in 3D virtual reality environments for which partial observability is severe and memories must be maintained over long durations. Our model demonstrates a single learning agent architecture that can solve canonical behavioural tasks in psychology and neurobiology without strong simplifying assumptions about the dimensionality of sensory input or the duration of experiences.