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Asking for Knowledge (AFK): Training RL Agents to Query External Knowledge Using Language
Iou-Jen Liu · Xingdi Yuan · Marc-Alexandre Côté · Pierre-Yves Oudeyer · Alex Schwing

Thu Jul 21 03:00 PM -- 05:00 PM (PDT) @ Hall E #936

To solve difficult tasks, humans ask questions to acquire knowledge from external sources. In contrast, classical reinforcement learning agents lack such an ability and often resort to exploratory behavior. This is exacerbated as few present-day environments support querying for knowledge. In order to study how agents can be taught to query external knowledge via language, we first introduce two new environments: the grid-world-based Q-BabyAI and the text-based Q-TextWorld. In addition to physical interactions, an agent can query an external knowledge source specialized for these environments to gather information. Second, we propose the `Asking for Knowledge’ (AFK) agent, which learns to generate language commands to query for meaningful knowledge that helps solve the tasks. AFK leverages a non-parametric memory, a pointer mechanism and an episodic exploration bonus to tackle (1) a large query language space, (2) irrelevant information, (3) delayed reward for making meaningful queries. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the AFK agent outperforms recent baselines on the challenging Q-BabyAI and Q-TextWorld environments.

Author Information

Iou-Jen Liu (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Xingdi Yuan (Microsoft Research, Montreal)
Marc-Alexandre Côté (Microsoft Research)
Pierre-Yves Oudeyer (Inria)

Dr. Pierre-Yves Oudeyer is Research Director (DR1) at Inria and head of the Inria and Ensta-ParisTech FLOWERS team (France). Before, he has been a permanent researcher in Sony Computer Science Laboratory for 8 years (1999-2007). After working on computational models of language evolution, he is now working on developmental and social robotics, focusing on sensorimotor development, language acquisition and life-long learning in robots. Strongly inspired by infant development, the mechanisms he studies include artificial curiosity, intrinsic motivation, the role of morphology in learning motor control, human-robot interfaces, joint attention and joint intentional understanding, and imitation learning. He has published a book, more than 80 papers in international journals and conferences, holds 8 patents, gave several invited keynote lectures in international conferences, and received several prizes for his work in developmental robotics and on the origins of language. In particular, he is laureate of the ERC Starting Grant EXPLORERS. He is editor of the IEEE CIS Newsletter on Autonomous Mental Development, and associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, Frontiers in Neurorobotics, and of the International Journal of Social Robotics. He is also working actively for the diffusion of science towards the general public, through the writing of popular science articles and participation to radio and TV programs as well as science exhibitions. Web:http://www.pyoudeyer.com and http://flowers.inria.fr

Alex Schwing (University of Illinois)

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