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Authors:Aidan Curtis, George Matheos, Nishad Gothoskar, Vikash Mansinghka, Joshua Tenenbaum, Tomás Lozano-Pérez, Leslie Pack Kaelbling

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Abstract:Integrated task and motion planning (TAMP) has proven to be a valuable approach to generalizable long-horizon robotic manipulation and navigation problems. However, the typical TAMP problem formulation assumes full observability and deterministic action effects. These assumptions limit the ability of the planner to gather information and make decisions that are risk-aware. We propose a strategy for TAMP with Uncertainty and Risk Awareness (TAMPURA) that is capable of efficiently solving long-horizon planning problems with initial-state and action outcome uncertainty, including problems that require information gathering and avoiding undesirable and irreversible outcomes. Our planner reasons under uncertainty at both the abstract task level and continuous controller level. Given a set of closed-loop goal-conditioned controllers operating in the primitive action space and a description of their preconditions and potential capabilities, we learn a high-level abstraction that can be solved efficiently and then refined to continuous actions for execution. We demonstrate our approach on several robotics problems where uncertainty is a crucial factor and show that reasoning under uncertainty in these problems outperforms previously proposed determinized planning, direct search, and reinforcement learning strategies. Lastly, we demonstrate our planner on two real-world robotics problems using recent advancements in probabilistic perception.

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Abstract:People often give instructions whose meaning is ambiguous without further context, expecting that their actions or goals will disambiguate their intentions. How can we build assistive agents that follow such instructions in a flexible, context-sensitive manner? This paper introduces cooperative language-guided inverse plan search (CLIPS), a Bayesian agent architecture for pragmatic instruction following and goal assistance. Our agent assists a human by modeling them as a cooperative planner who communicates joint plans to the assistant, then performs multimodal Bayesian inference over the human's goal from actions and language, using large language models (LLMs) to evaluate the likelihood of an instruction given a hypothesized plan. Given this posterior, our assistant acts to minimize expected goal achievement cost, enabling it to pragmatically follow ambiguous instructions and provide effective assistance even when uncertain about the goal. We evaluate these capabilities in two cooperative planning domains (Doors, Keys & Gems and VirtualHome), finding that CLIPS significantly outperforms GPT-4V, LLM-based literal instruction following and unimodal inverse planning in both accuracy and helpfulness, while closely matching the inferences and assistive judgments provided by human raters.

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Abstract:Despite the fact that beliefs are mental states that cannot be directly observed, humans talk about each others' beliefs on a regular basis, often using rich compositional language to describe what others think and know. What explains this capacity to interpret the hidden epistemic content of other minds? In this paper, we take a step towards an answer by grounding the semantics of belief statements in a Bayesian theory-of-mind: By modeling how humans jointly infer coherent sets of goals, beliefs, and plans that explain an agent's actions, then evaluating statements about the agent's beliefs against these inferences via epistemic logic, our framework provides a conceptual role semantics for belief, explaining the gradedness and compositionality of human belief attributions, as well as their intimate connection with goals and plans. We evaluate this framework by studying how humans attribute goals and beliefs while watching an agent solve a doors-and-keys gridworld puzzle that requires instrumental reasoning about hidden objects. In contrast to pure logical deduction, non-mentalizing baselines, and mentalizing that ignores the role of instrumental plans, our model provides a much better fit to human goal and belief attributions, demonstrating the importance of theory-of-mind for a semantics of belief.

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Abstract:When humans cooperate, they frequently coordinate their activity through both verbal communication and non-verbal actions, using this information to infer a shared goal and plan. How can we model this inferential ability? In this paper, we introduce a model of a cooperative team where one agent, the principal, may communicate natural language instructions about their shared plan to another agent, the assistant, using GPT-3 as a likelihood function for instruction utterances. We then show how a third person observer can infer the team's goal via multi-modal Bayesian inverse planning from actions and instructions, computing the posterior distribution over goals under the assumption that agents will act and communicate rationally to achieve them. We evaluate this approach by comparing it with human goal inferences in a multi-agent gridworld, finding that our model's inferences closely correlate with human judgments (R = 0.96). When compared to inference from actions alone, we also find that instructions lead to more rapid and less uncertain goal inference, highlighting the importance of verbal communication for cooperative agents.

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Authors:Nicholas Roy, Ingmar Posner, Tim Barfoot, Philippe Beaudoin, Yoshua Bengio, Jeannette Bohg, Oliver Brock, Isabelle Depatie, Dieter Fox, Dan Koditschek(+10 more)

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Abstract:Machine learning has long since become a keystone technology, accelerating science and applications in a broad range of domains. Consequently, the notion of applying learning methods to a particular problem set has become an established and valuable modus operandi to advance a particular field. In this article we argue that such an approach does not straightforwardly extended to robotics -- or to embodied intelligence more generally: systems which engage in a purposeful exchange of energy and information with a physical environment. In particular, the purview of embodied intelligent agents extends significantly beyond the typical considerations of main-stream machine learning approaches, which typically (i) do not consider operation under conditions significantly different from those encountered during training; (ii) do not consider the often substantial, long-lasting and potentially safety-critical nature of interactions during learning and deployment; (iii) do not require ready adaptation to novel tasks while at the same time (iv) effectively and efficiently curating and extending their models of the world through targeted and deliberate actions. In reality, therefore, these limitations result in learning-based systems which suffer from many of the same operational shortcomings as more traditional, engineering-based approaches when deployed on a robot outside a well defined, and often narrow operating envelope. Contrary to viewing embodied intelligence as another application domain for machine learning, here we argue that it is in fact a key driver for the advancement of machine learning technology. In this article our goal is to highlight challenges and opportunities that are specific to embodied intelligence and to propose research directions which may significantly advance the state-of-the-art in robot learning.

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Abstract:This paper introduces a procedure for testing the identifiability of Bayesian models for causal inference. Although the do-calculus is sound and complete given a causal graph, many practical assumptions cannot be expressed in terms of graph structure alone, such as the assumptions required by instrumental variable designs, regression discontinuity designs, and within-subjects designs. We present simulation-based identifiability (SBI), a fully automated identification test based on a particle optimization scheme with simulated observations. This approach expresses causal assumptions as priors over functions in a structural causal model, including flexible priors using Gaussian processes. We prove that SBI is asymptotically sound and complete, and produces practical finite-sample bounds. We also show empirically that SBI agrees with known results in graph-based identification as well as with widely-held intuitions for designs in which graph-based methods are inconclusive.

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Abstract:Latent confounders---unobserved variables that influence both treatment and outcome---can bias estimates of causal effects. In some cases, these confounders are shared across observations, e.g. all students taking a course are influenced by the course's difficulty in addition to any educational interventions they receive individually. This paper shows how to semiparametrically model latent confounders that have this structure and thereby improve estimates of causal effects. The key innovations are a hierarchical Bayesian model, Gaussian processes with structured latent confounders (GP-SLC), and a Monte Carlo inference algorithm for this model based on elliptical slice sampling. GP-SLC provides principled Bayesian uncertainty estimates of individual treatment effect with minimal assumptions about the functional forms relating confounders, covariates, treatment, and outcome. Finally, this paper shows GP-SLC is competitive with or more accurate than widely used causal inference techniques on three benchmark datasets, including the Infant Health and Development Program and a dataset showing the effect of changing temperatures on state-wide energy consumption across New England.

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Abstract:We introduce deep involutive generative models, a new architecture for deep generative modeling, and use them to define Involutive Neural MCMC, a new approach to fast neural MCMC. An involutive generative model represents a probability kernel $G(\phi \mapsto \phi')$ as an involutive (i.e., self-inverting) deterministic function $f(\phi, \pi)$ on an enlarged state space containing auxiliary variables $\pi$. We show how to make these models volume preserving, and how to use deep volume-preserving involutive generative models to make valid Metropolis-Hastings updates based on an auxiliary variable scheme with an easy-to-calculate acceptance ratio. We prove that deep involutive generative models and their volume-preserving special case are universal approximators for probability kernels. This result implies that with enough network capacity and training time, they can be used to learn arbitrarily complex MCMC updates. We define a loss function and optimization algorithm for training parameters given simulated data. We also provide initial experiments showing that Involutive Neural MCMC can efficiently explore multi-modal distributions that are intractable for Hybrid Monte Carlo, and can converge faster than A-NICE-MC, a recently introduced neural MCMC technique.

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Abstract:Causal inference can be formalized as Bayesian inference that combines a prior distribution over causal models and likelihoods that account for both observations and interventions. We show that it is possible to implement this approach using a sufficiently expressive probabilistic programming language. Priors are represented using probabilistic programs that generate source code in a domain specific language. Interventions are represented using probabilistic programs that edit this source code to modify the original generative process. This approach makes it straightforward to incorporate data from atomic interventions, as well as shift interventions, variance-scaling interventions, and other interventions that modify causal structure. This approach also enables the use of general-purpose inference machinery for probabilistic programs to infer probable causal structures and parameters from data. This abstract describes a prototype of this approach in the Gen probabilistic programming language.

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Abstract:Consider scene understanding problems such as predicting where a person is probably reaching, or inferring the pose of 3D objects from depth images, or inferring the probable street crossings of pedestrians at a busy intersection. This paper shows how to solve these problems using Approximate Bayesian Computation. The underlying generative models are built from realistic simulation software, wrapped in a Bayesian error model for the gap between simulation outputs and real data. The simulators are drawn from off-the-shelf computer graphics, video game, and traffic simulation code. The paper introduces two techniques for speeding up inference that can be used separately or in combination. The first is to train neural surrogates of the simulators, using a simple form of domain randomization to make the surrogates more robust to the gap between the simulation and reality. The second is to adaptively discretize the latent variables using a Tree-pyramid approach adapted from computer graphics. This paper also shows performance and accuracy measurements on real-world problems, establishing that it is feasible to solve these problems in real-time.

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