Olivier Georgeon's research blog—also known as the story of little Ernest, the developmental agent.

Keywords: situated cognition, constructivist learning, intrinsic motivation, bottom-up self-programming, individuation, theory of enaction, developmental learning, artificial sense-making, biologically inspired cognitive architectures, agnostic agents (without ontological assumptions about the environment).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ernest 9.0 can roam in flower fields

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Ernest 9.0 is a honey-bee. She likes roaming toward flashy colors in her environment and she uses colored spots as landmarks for navigation.

She is alternatively in two different states: hungry or thirsty. When she is hungry, she has a violet thorax; when she is thirsty, she has a blue thorax. She does not know a priori what landmark can be eaten or drunk so she tries them all.

In this experiment, we can see a first learning phase (steps 0-150) where she learns sensorymotor contingencies by following her intrinsic motivation to visit landmarks (as before and discussed here). While doing so, she also learns that only blue landmarks can be drunk. She has an additional taste sense that informs her if the place where she is standing can be eaten or drunk. After step 150, she begins roaming more efficiently from landmarks to landmarks until she ends up on the violet landmarks and discovers that this can be eaten (steps 150-380).

She associates landmarks with the fulfillment of specific needs. For example, when she is thirsty, she memorizes roughly how long she travels from each specific landmark to a place where she drinks. When she gets thirsty again, she navigates preferably toward the landmarks that are the closest to the drinking area as she remembers.

This prompts her to go back to the drinking area event though the blue square is hidden behind the wall (steps 380-430). Similarly, she goes back to the eating area after drinking. Distance values are updated overtime so the navigation improves based on experience and on environmental regularities (if we introduce blue and violet squares without respecting a drinking and an eating area, she only finds them through random browsing).

To obtain these behaviors, we improved both the visual system and the motivational system in a tightly intertwined way, as we will report next.

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