Abstract: Humans can learn a variety of concepts and skills incrementally over the course of their lives while exhibiting many desirable properties, such as continual learning without forgetting, forward transfer and backward transfer of knowledge, and learning a new concept or task with only a few examples. Several lines of machine learning research, such as lifelong machine learning, few-shot learning, and transfer learning attempt to capture these properties. However, most previous approaches can only demonstrate subsets of these properties, often by different complex mechanisms. In this work, we propose a simple yet powerful unified deep learning framework that supports almost all of these properties and approaches through one central mechanism. Experiments on toy examples support our claims. We also draw connections between many peculiarities of human learning (such as memory loss and "rain man") and our framework. As academics, we often lack resources required to build and train, deep neural networks with billions of parameters on hundreds of TPUs. Thus, while our framework is still conceptual, and our experiment results are surely not SOTA, we hope that this unified lifelong learning framework inspires new work towards large-scale experiments and understanding human learning in general.
Authors: Charles X. Ling, Tanner Bohn (Western University)