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).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ernest 11.4 recognizes objects

This video shows Ernest 11.4 learning to interact with different objects in this new version of the Small Loop.

At the beginning, Ernest learns to interact with empty places and with dark-green walls. From step 76 on, he learns to interact with cyan walls. On step 220, we introduce alga, and he starts to learn to interact with them.

Note the funny hesitation on step 234 when Ernest touches an alga for the first time, turns back, and then returns to the alga. Once this new kind of objects is learned, Ernest moves through them without hesitation.

Ernest's previous management of bundles (Ernest 11.2) no longer works in this environment because objects can no longer be identified by disjoint bundles of interactions. Some interactions (e.g., bump) are afforded by different objects (dark-green walls and cyan walls). Ernest 11.4, however, does not actually need to fully recognize objects. He adapts to this environment by only learning "compresences" of pairs of interactions. We borrowed the term compresence from the bundle theory of objects to designate the tie between two interactions that are afforded by the same location in space. In this video, compresences are represented by gray circles that contain interactions (in sequential and spatial memory, top and bottom right areas of the video).

The question of identifying objects by bundles of interactions that are consistently compresent remains an open and difficult question. The notion of compresence seems  to be still controversial in philosophy of objects. Identifying objects raises the question of making analogies between objects, and learning categories of objects based on similarities in the interactions that they afford.

In this experiment:

Touching a cyan wall ahead generates a specific feeling (cyan squares). Touching a cyan wall on the side generates the same feeling as touching a dark-green wall on the side (dark-green squares). Bumping into a cyan wall feels the same as bumping into a dark-green wall (red triangles). Once learned, touching walls ahead "evokes" bumping ahead (light-red triangles in spatial memory, bottom right area of the video). As previously, the evocation of bumping refrains Ernest from trying to move forward towards walls.

Touching an alga ahead generates a specific feeling (light-green squares). Touching an alga on the side generates the same feeling as touching an empty square on the side (white squares). Moving to an alga feels the same as moving to an empty square (white triangles).

(Demo implemented with Ernest r261 and Vacuum r186)