Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds promise as a technology that can be used to improve government and economic policy-making. This paper proposes a new research agenda towards this end by introducing Social Environment Design, a general framework for the use of AI for automated policy-making that connects with the Reinforcement Learning, EconCS, and Computational Social Choice communities. The framework seeks to capture general economic environments, includes voting on policy objectives, and gives a direction for the systematic analysis of government and economic policy through AI simulation. We highlight key open problems for future research in AI-based policy-making. By solving these challenges, we hope to achieve various social welfare objectives, thereby promoting more ethical and responsible decision making.
We consider multiple senders with informational advantage signaling to convince a single self-interested actor towards certain actions. Generalizing the seminal Bayesian Persuasion framework, such settings are ubiquitous in computational economics, multi-agent learning, and machine learning with multiple objectives. The core solution concept here is the Nash equilibrium of senders' signaling policies. Theoretically, we prove that finding an equilibrium in general is PPAD-Hard; in fact, even computing a sender's best response is NP-Hard. Given these intrinsic difficulties, we turn to finding local Nash equilibria. We propose a novel differentiable neural network to approximate this game's non-linear and discontinuous utilities. Complementing this with the extra-gradient algorithm, we discover local equilibria that Pareto dominates full-revelation equilibria and those found by existing neural networks. Broadly, our theoretical and empirical contributions are of interest to a large class of economic problems.
In the realm of multi-agent reinforcement learning, intrinsic motivations have emerged as a pivotal tool for exploration. While the computation of many intrinsic rewards relies on estimating variational posteriors using neural network approximators, a notable challenge has surfaced due to the limited expressive capability of these neural statistics approximators. We pinpoint this challenge as the "revisitation" issue, where agents recurrently explore confined areas of the task space. To combat this, we propose a dynamic reward scaling approach. This method is crafted to stabilize the significant fluctuations in intrinsic rewards in previously explored areas and promote broader exploration, effectively curbing the revisitation phenomenon. Our experimental findings underscore the efficacy of our approach, showcasing enhanced performance in demanding environments like Google Research Football and StarCraft II micromanagement tasks, especially in sparse reward settings.
Contract design involves a principal who establishes contractual agreements about payments for outcomes that arise from the actions of an agent. In this paper, we initiate the study of deep learning for the automated design of optimal contracts. We formulate this as an offline learning problem, where a deep network is used to represent the principal's expected utility as a function of the design of a contract. We introduce a novel representation: the Discontinuous ReLU (DeLU) network, which models the principal's utility as a discontinuous piecewise affine function where each piece corresponds to the agent taking a particular action. DeLU networks implicitly learn closed-form expressions for the incentive compatibility constraints of the agent and the utility maximization objective of the principal, and support parallel inference on each piece through linear programming or interior-point methods that solve for optimal contracts. We provide empirical results that demonstrate success in approximating the principal's utility function with a small number of training samples and scaling to find approximately optimal contracts on problems with a large number of actions and outcomes.
Robot design aims at learning to create robots that can be easily controlled and perform tasks efficiently. Previous works on robot design have proven its ability to generate robots for various tasks. However, these works searched the robots directly from the vast design space and ignored common structures, resulting in abnormal robots and poor performance. To tackle this problem, we propose a Symmetry-Aware Robot Design (SARD) framework that exploits the structure of the design space by incorporating symmetry searching into the robot design process. Specifically, we represent symmetries with the subgroups of the dihedral group and search for the optimal symmetry in structured subgroups. Then robots are designed under the searched symmetry. In this way, SARD can design efficient symmetric robots while covering the original design space, which is theoretically analyzed. We further empirically evaluate SARD on various tasks, and the results show its superior efficiency and generalizability.
* The Fortieth International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2023)
Value decomposition multi-agent reinforcement learning methods learn the global value function as a mixing of each agent's individual utility functions. Coordination graphs (CGs) represent a higher-order decomposition by incorporating pairwise payoff functions and thus is supposed to have a more powerful representational capacity. However, CGs decompose the global value function linearly over local value functions, severely limiting the complexity of the value function class that can be represented. In this paper, we propose the first non-linear coordination graph by extending CG value decomposition beyond the linear case. One major challenge is to conduct greedy action selections in this new function class to which commonly adopted DCOP algorithms are no longer applicable. We study how to solve this problem when mixing networks with LeakyReLU activation are used. An enumeration method with a global optimality guarantee is proposed and motivates an efficient iterative optimization method with a local optimality guarantee. We find that our method can achieve superior performance on challenging multi-agent coordination tasks like MACO.
* NeurIPS 2022 * Authors are listed in alphabetical order
Modular Reinforcement Learning (RL) decentralizes the control of multi-joint robots by learning policies for each actuator. Previous work on modular RL has proven its ability to control morphologically different agents with a shared actuator policy. However, with the increase in the Degree of Freedom (DoF) of robots, training a morphology-generalizable modular controller becomes exponentially difficult. Motivated by the way the human central nervous system controls numerous muscles, we propose a Synergy-Oriented LeARning (SOLAR) framework that exploits the redundant nature of DoF in robot control. Actuators are grouped into synergies by an unsupervised learning method, and a synergy action is learned to control multiple actuators in synchrony. In this way, we achieve a low-rank control at the synergy level. We extensively evaluate our method on a variety of robot morphologies, and the results show its superior efficiency and generalizability, especially on robots with a large DoF like Humanoids++ and UNIMALs.
* 36th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS
Team adaptation to new cooperative tasks is a hallmark of human intelligence, which has yet to be fully realized in learning agents. Previous work on multi-agent transfer learning accommodate teams of different sizes, heavily relying on the generalization ability of neural networks for adapting to unseen tasks. We believe that the relationship among tasks provides the key information for policy adaptation. In this paper, we try to discover and exploit common structures among tasks for more efficient transfer, and propose to learn effect-based task representations as a common space of tasks, using an alternatively fixed training scheme. We demonstrate that the task representation can capture the relationship among tasks, and can generalize to unseen tasks. As a result, the proposed method can help transfer learned cooperation knowledge to new tasks after training on a few source tasks. We also find that fine-tuning the transferred policies help solve tasks that are hard to learn from scratch.
Coordination graph is a promising approach to model agent collaboration in multi-agent reinforcement learning. It factorizes a large multi-agent system into a suite of overlapping groups that represent the underlying coordination dependencies. One critical challenge in this paradigm is the complexity of computing maximum-value actions for a graph-based value factorization. It refers to the decentralized constraint optimization problem (DCOP), which and whose constant-ratio approximation are NP-hard problems. To bypass this fundamental hardness, this paper proposes a novel method, named Self-Organized Polynomial-time Coordination Graphs (SOP-CG), which uses structured graph classes to guarantee the optimality of the induced DCOPs with sufficient function expressiveness. We extend the graph topology to be state-dependent, formulate the graph selection as an imaginary agent, and finally derive an end-to-end learning paradigm from the unified Bellman optimality equation. In experiments, we show that our approach learns interpretable graph topologies, induces effective coordination, and improves performance across a variety of cooperative multi-agent tasks.
Multi-agent reinforcement learning tasks put a high demand on the volume of training samples. Different from its single-agent counterpart, distributed value-based multi-agent reinforcement learning faces the unique challenges of demanding data transfer, inter-process communication management, and high requirement of exploration. We propose a containerized learning framework to solve these problems. We pack several environment instances, a local learner and buffer, and a carefully designed multi-queue manager which avoids blocking into a container. Local policies of each container are encouraged to be as diverse as possible, and only trajectories with highest priority are sent to a global learner. In this way, we achieve a scalable, time-efficient, and diverse distributed MARL learning framework with high system throughput. To own knowledge, our method is the first to solve the challenging Google Research Football full game $5\_v\_5$. On the StarCraft II micromanagement benchmark, our method gets $4$-$18\times$ better results compared to state-of-the-art non-distributed MARL algorithms.