Causal Curiosity: RL Agents Discovering Self-supervised Experiments for Causal Representation Learning [article]

Sumedh A. Sontakke, Arash Mehrjou, Laurent Itti, Bernhard Schölkopf
2021 arXiv   pre-print
Animals exhibit an innate ability to learn regularities of the world through interaction. By performing experiments in their environment, they are able to discern the causal factors of variation and infer how they affect the world's dynamics. Inspired by this, we attempt to equip reinforcement learning agents with the ability to perform experiments that facilitate a categorization of the rolled-out trajectories, and to subsequently infer the causal factors of the environment in a hierarchical
more » ... nner. We introduce causal curiosity, a novel intrinsic reward, and show that it allows our agents to learn optimal sequences of actions and discover causal factors in the dynamics of the environment. The learned behavior allows the agents to infer a binary quantized representation for the ground-truth causal factors in every environment. Additionally, we find that these experimental behaviors are semantically meaningful (e.g., our agents learn to lift blocks to categorize them by weight), and are learnt in a self-supervised manner with approximately 2.5 times less data than conventional supervised planners. We show that these behaviors can be re-purposed and fine-tuned (e.g., from lifting to pushing or other downstream tasks). Finally, we show that the knowledge of causal factor representations aids zero-shot learning for more complex tasks. Visit for website.
arXiv:2010.03110v4 fatcat:fk4vsjibc5bi7iyhjk7wwe6izu