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When to Ask for Help: Proactive Interventions in Autonomous Reinforcement Learning
Annie Xie · Fahim Tajwar · Archit Sharma · Chelsea Finn
Event URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=cHuBx58h2I »

A long-term goal of reinforcement learning is to design agents that can autonomously interact and learn in the world. A critical challenge to such autonomy is the presence of irreversible states which require external assistance to recover from, such as when a robot arm has pushed an object off of a table. While standard agents require constant monitoring to decide when to intervene, we aim to design proactive agents that can request human intervention only when needed. To this end, we propose an algorithm that can efficiently learns to detect and avoid states that are irreversible, and proactively ask for help in case the agent does enter them. On a suite of continuous control environments with unknown irreversible states, we find that our algorithm exhibits both better sample- and intervention-efficiency compared to existing methods.

Author Information

Annie Xie (Stanford University)
Fahim Tajwar (Stanford University)
Archit Sharma (Stanford University)
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.

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