Assessing Human Interaction in Virtual Reality With Continually Learning Prediction Agents Based on Reinforcement Learning Algorithms: A Pilot Study

Artificial intelligence systems increasingly involve continual learning to enable flexibility in general situations that are not encountered during system training. Human interaction with autonomous systems is broadly studied, but research has hitherto under-explored interactions that occur while the system is actively learning, and can noticeably change its behaviour in minutes. In this pilot study, we investigate how the interaction between a human and a continually learning prediction agent develops as the agent develops competency. Additionally, we compare two different agent architectures to assess how representational choices in agent design affect the human-agent interaction. We develop a virtual reality environment and a time-based prediction task wherein learned predictions from a reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm augment human predictions. We assess how a participant's performance and behaviour in this task differs across agent types, using both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Our findings suggest that human trust of the system may be influenced by early interactions with the agent, and that trust in turn affects strategic behaviour, but limitations of the pilot study rule out any conclusive statement. We identify trust as a key feature of interaction to focus on when considering RL-based technologies, and make several recommendations for modification to this study in preparation for a larger-scale investigation. A video summary of this paper can be found at https://youtu.be/oVYJdnBqTwQ .

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