We introduce PaLM 2, a new state-of-the-art language model that has better multilingual and reasoning capabilities and is more compute-efficient than its predecessor PaLM. PaLM 2 is a Transformer-based model trained using a mixture of objectives. Through extensive evaluations on English and multilingual language, and reasoning tasks, we demonstrate that PaLM 2 has significantly improved quality on downstream tasks across different model sizes, while simultaneously exhibiting faster and more efficient inference compared to PaLM. This improved efficiency enables broader deployment while also allowing the model to respond faster, for a more natural pace of interaction. PaLM 2 demonstrates robust reasoning capabilities exemplified by large improvements over PaLM on BIG-Bench and other reasoning tasks. PaLM 2 exhibits stable performance on a suite of responsible AI evaluations, and enables inference-time control over toxicity without additional overhead or impact on other capabilities. Overall, PaLM 2 achieves state-of-the-art performance across a diverse set of tasks and capabilities. When discussing the PaLM 2 family, it is important to distinguish between pre-trained models (of various sizes), fine-tuned variants of these models, and the user-facing products that use these models. In particular, user-facing products typically include additional pre- and post-processing steps. Additionally, the underlying models may evolve over time. Therefore, one should not expect the performance of user-facing products to exactly match the results reported in this report.
Complex and contact-rich robotic manipulation tasks, particularly those that involve multi-fingered hands and underactuated object manipulation, present a significant challenge to any control method. Methods based on reinforcement learning offer an appealing choice for such settings, as they can enable robots to learn to delicately balance contact forces and dexterously reposition objects without strong modeling assumptions. However, running reinforcement learning on real-world dexterous manipulation systems often requires significant manual engineering. This negates the benefits of autonomous data collection and ease of use that reinforcement learning should in principle provide. In this paper, we describe a system for vision-based dexterous manipulation that provides a "programming-free" approach for users to define new tasks and enable robots with complex multi-fingered hands to learn to perform them through interaction. The core principle underlying our system is that, in a vision-based setting, users should be able to provide high-level intermediate supervision that circumvents challenges in teleoperation or kinesthetic teaching which allow a robot to not only learn a task efficiently but also to autonomously practice. Our system includes a framework for users to define a final task and intermediate sub-tasks with image examples, a reinforcement learning procedure that learns the task autonomously without interventions, and experimental results with a four-finger robotic hand learning multi-stage object manipulation tasks directly in the real world, without simulation, manual modeling, or reward engineering.
Reinforcement learning (RL) provides a naturalistic framing for learning through trial and error, which is appealing both because of its simplicity and effectiveness and because of its resemblance to how humans and animals acquire skills through experience. However, real-world embodied learning, such as that performed by humans and animals, is situated in a continual, non-episodic world, whereas common benchmark tasks in RL are episodic, with the environment resetting between trials to provide the agent with multiple attempts. This discrepancy presents a major challenge when attempting to take RL algorithms developed for episodic simulated environments and run them on real-world platforms, such as robots. In this paper, we aim to address this discrepancy by laying out a framework for Autonomous Reinforcement Learning (ARL): reinforcement learning where the agent not only learns through its own experience, but also contends with lack of human supervision to reset between trials. We introduce a simulated benchmark EARL around this framework, containing a set of diverse and challenging simulated tasks reflective of the hurdles introduced to learning when only a minimal reliance on extrinsic intervention can be assumed. We show that standard approaches to episodic RL and existing approaches struggle as interventions are minimized, underscoring the need for developing new algorithms for reinforcement learning with a greater focus on autonomy.
Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms can in principle acquire complex robotic skills by learning from large amounts of data in the real world, collected via trial and error. However, most RL algorithms use a carefully engineered setup in order to collect data, requiring human supervision and intervention to provide episodic resets. This is particularly evident in challenging robotics problems, such as dexterous manipulation. To make data collection scalable, such applications require reset-free algorithms that are able to learn autonomously, without explicit instrumentation or human intervention. Most prior work in this area handles single-task learning. However, we might also want robots that can perform large repertoires of skills. At first, this would appear to only make the problem harder. However, the key observation we make in this work is that an appropriately chosen multi-task RL setting actually alleviates the reset-free learning challenge, with minimal additional machinery required. In effect, solving a multi-task problem can directly solve the reset-free problem since different combinations of tasks can serve to perform resets for other tasks. By learning multiple tasks together and appropriately sequencing them, we can effectively learn all of the tasks together reset-free. This type of multi-task learning can effectively scale reset-free learning schemes to much more complex problems, as we demonstrate in our experiments. We propose a simple scheme for multi-task learning that tackles the reset-free learning problem, and show its effectiveness at learning to solve complex dexterous manipulation tasks in both hardware and simulation without any explicit resets. This work shows the ability to learn dexterous manipulation behaviors in the real world with RL without any human intervention.
Reinforcement learning has the potential to automate the acquisition of behavior in complex settings, but in order for it to be successfully deployed, a number of practical challenges must be addressed. First, in real world settings, when an agent attempts a task and fails, the environment must somehow "reset" so that the agent can attempt the task again. While easy in simulation, this could require considerable human effort in the real world, especially if the number of trials is very large. Second, real world learning often involves complex, temporally extended behavior that is often difficult to acquire with random exploration. While these two problems may at first appear unrelated, in this work, we show how a single method can allow an agent to acquire skills with minimal supervision while removing the need for resets. We do this by exploiting the insight that the need to "reset" an agent to a broad set of initial states for a learning task provides a natural setting to learn a diverse set of "reset-skills". We propose a general-sum game formulation that balances the objectives of resetting and learning skills, and demonstrate that this approach improves performance on reset-free tasks, and additionally show that the skills we obtain can be used to significantly accelerate downstream learning.
Few-shot classification refers to learning a classifier for new classes given only a few examples. While a plethora of models have emerged to tackle this recently, we find the current procedure and datasets that are used to systematically assess progress in this setting lacking. To address this, we propose Meta-Dataset: a new benchmark for training and evaluating few-shot classifiers that is large-scale, consists of multiple datasets, and presents more natural and realistic tasks. The aim is to measure the ability of state-of-the-art models to leverage diverse sources of data to achieve higher generalization, and to evaluate that generalization ability in a more challenging setting. We additionally measure robustness of current methods to variations in the number of available examples and the number of classes. Finally our extensive empirical evaluation leads us to identify weaknesses in Prototypical Networks and MAML, two popular few-shot classification methods, and to propose a new method, Proto-MAML, which achieves improved performance on our benchmark.
A significant challenge for the practical application of reinforcement learning in the real world is the need to specify an oracle reward function that correctly defines a task. Inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) seeks to avoid this challenge by instead inferring a reward function from expert behavior. While appealing, it can be impractically expensive to collect datasets of demonstrations that cover the variation common in the real world (e.g. opening any type of door). Thus in practice, IRL must commonly be performed with only a limited set of demonstrations where it can be exceedingly difficult to unambiguously recover a reward function. In this work, we exploit the insight that demonstrations from other tasks can be used to constrain the set of possible reward functions by learning a "prior" that is specifically optimized for the ability to infer expressive reward functions from limited numbers of demonstrations. We demonstrate that our method can efficiently recover rewards from images for novel tasks and provide intuition as to how our approach is analogous to learning a prior.
Meta-learning for few-shot learning entails acquiring a prior over previous tasks and experiences, such that new tasks be learned from small amounts of data. However, a critical challenge in few-shot learning is task ambiguity: even when a powerful prior can be meta-learned from a large number of prior tasks, a small dataset for a new task can simply be too ambiguous to acquire a single model (e.g., a classifier) for that task that is accurate. In this paper, we propose a probabilistic meta-learning algorithm that can sample models for a new task from a model distribution. Our approach extends model-agnostic meta-learning, which adapts to new tasks via gradient descent, to incorporate a parameter distribution that is trained via a variational lower bound. At meta-test time, our algorithm adapts via a simple procedure that injects noise into gradient descent, and at meta-training time, the model is trained such that this stochastic adaptation procedure produces samples from the approximate model posterior. Our experimental results show that our method can sample plausible classifiers and regressors in ambiguous few-shot learning problems.
Trust region methods, such as TRPO, are often used to stabilize policy optimization algorithms in reinforcement learning (RL). While current trust region strategies are effective for continuous control, they typically require a prohibitively large amount of on-policy interaction with the environment. To address this problem, we propose an off-policy trust region method, Trust-PCL. The algorithm is the result of observing that the optimal policy and state values of a maximum reward objective with a relative-entropy regularizer satisfy a set of multi-step pathwise consistencies along any path. Thus, Trust-PCL is able to maintain optimization stability while exploiting off-policy data to improve sample efficiency. When evaluated on a number of continuous control tasks, Trust-PCL improves the solution quality and sample efficiency of TRPO.
We establish a new connection between value and policy based reinforcement learning (RL) based on a relationship between softmax temporal value consistency and policy optimality under entropy regularization. Specifically, we show that softmax consistent action values correspond to optimal entropy regularized policy probabilities along any action sequence, regardless of provenance. From this observation, we develop a new RL algorithm, Path Consistency Learning (PCL), that minimizes a notion of soft consistency error along multi-step action sequences extracted from both on- and off-policy traces. We examine the behavior of PCL in different scenarios and show that PCL can be interpreted as generalizing both actor-critic and Q-learning algorithms. We subsequently deepen the relationship by showing how a single model can be used to represent both a policy and the corresponding softmax state values, eliminating the need for a separate critic. The experimental evaluation demonstrates that PCL significantly outperforms strong actor-critic and Q-learning baselines across several benchmarks.