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Intrinsic Control of Variational Beliefs in Dynamic Partially-Observed Visual Environments
Nicholas Rhinehart · Jenny Wang · Glen Berseth · John Co-Reyes · Danijar Hafner · Chelsea Finn · Sergey Levine

Humans and animals explore their environment and acquire useful skills even in the absence of clear goals, exhibiting intrinsic motivation. The study of intrinsic motivation in artificial agents is concerned with the following question: what is a good general-purpose objective for an agent? We study this question in dynamic partially-observed environments, and argue that a compact and general learning objective is to minimize the entropy of the agent's state visitation estimated using a latent state-space model. This objective induces an agent to both gather information about its environment, corresponding to reducing uncertainty, and to gain control over its environment, corresponding to reducing the unpredictability of future world states. We instantiate this approach as a deep reinforcement learning agent equipped with a deep variational Bayes filter. We find that our agent learns to discover, represent, and exercise control of dynamic objects in a variety of partially-observed environments sensed with visual observations without extrinsic reward.

Author Information

Nicholas Rhinehart (University of California Berkeley)
Jenny Wang (University of California Berkeley)
Glen Berseth (UC Berkeley)
John Co-Reyes (UC Berkeley)
Danijar Hafner (Google Brain & University of Toronto)
Chelsea Finn (Stanford)

Chelsea Finn is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Finn's research interests lie in the capability of robots and other agents to develop broadly intelligent behavior through learning and interaction. To this end, her work has included deep learning algorithms for concurrently learning visual perception and control in robotic manipulation skills, inverse reinforcement methods for learning reward functions underlying behavior, and meta-learning algorithms that can enable fast, few-shot adaptation in both visual perception and deep reinforcement learning. Finn received her Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and her PhD in Computer Science at UC Berkeley. Her research has been recognized through the ACM doctoral dissertation award, the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, the C.V. Ramamoorthy Distinguished Research Award, and the MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 Award, and her work has been covered by various media outlets, including the New York Times, Wired, and Bloomberg. Throughout her career, she has sought to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities within CS and AI by developing an AI outreach camp at Berkeley for underprivileged high school students, a mentoring program for underrepresented undergraduates across four universities, and leading efforts within the WiML and Berkeley WiCSE communities of women researchers.

Sergey Levine (University of Washington)

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