Probing Emergent Semantics in Predictive Agents via Question Answering

ICML 2020

Probing Emergent Semantics in Predictive Agents via Question Answering

Oct 24, 2020
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"Probing Emergent Semantics in Predictive Agents via Question Answering" is work completed by Abhishek Das, Federico Carnevale, Hamza Merzic, Laura Rimell, Rosalia Schneider, Josh Abramson, Alden Hung, Arun Ahuja, Stephen Clark, Gregory Wayne, and Felix Hill. This work was accepted to the 2020 International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML). Abstract: Recent work has shown how predictive modeling can endow agents with rich knowledge of their surroundings, improving their ability to act in complex environments. We propose question-answering as a general paradigm to decode and understand the representations that such agents develop, applying our method to two recent approaches to predictive modeling -action-conditional CPC (Guo et al., 2018) and SimCore (Gregor et al., 2019). After training agents with these predictive objectives in a visually-rich, 3D environment with an assortment of objects, colors, shapes, and spatial configurations, we probe their internal state representations with synthetic (English) questions, without backpropagating gradients from the question-answering decoder into the agent. The performance of different agents when probed this way reveals that they learn to encode factual, and seemingly compositional, information about objects, properties and spatial relations from their physical environment. Our approach is intuitive, i.e. humans can easily interpret responses of the model as opposed to inspecting continuous vectors, and model-agnostic, i.e. applicable to any modeling approach. By revealing the implicit knowledge of objects, quantities, properties and relations acquired by agents as they learn, question-conditional agent probing can stimulate the design and development of stronger predictive learning objectives. Full paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.01016

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