Computation noise promotes cognitive resilience to adverse conditions during decision-making [article]

Charles Findling, Valentin Wyart
2020 bioRxiv   pre-print
Random noise in information processing systems is widely seen as detrimental to function. But despite the large trial-to-trial variability of neural activity and behavior, humans and other animals show a remarkable adaptability to unexpected adverse events occurring during task execution. This cognitive ability, described as constitutive of general intelligence, is missing from current artificial intelligence (AI) systems which feature exact (noise-free) computations. Here we show that
more » ... ing computation noise in recurrent neural networks boosts their cognitive resilience to a variety of adverse conditions entirely unseen during training, in a way that resembles human and animal cognition. In contrast to artificial agents with exact computations, noisy agents exhibit hallmarks of Bayesian inference acquired in a 'zero-shot' fashion - without prior experience with conditions that require these computations for maximizing rewards. We further demonstrate that these cognitive benefits result from free-standing regularization of activity patterns in noisy neural networks. Together, these findings suggest that intelligence may ride on computation noise to promote near-optimal decision-making in adverse conditions without any engineered cognitive sophistication.
doi:10.1101/2020.06.10.145300 fatcat:abhslgtm35abnnu64qnvrx636m