Beyond Bayes-optimality: meta-learning what you know you don't know

Meta-training agents with memory has been shown to culminate in Bayes-optimal agents, which casts Bayes-optimality as the implicit solution to a numerical optimization problem rather than an explicit modeling assumption. Bayes-optimal agents are risk-neutral, since they solely attune to the expected return, and ambiguity-neutral, since they act in new situations as if the uncertainty were known. This is in contrast to risk-sensitive agents, which additionally exploit the higher-order moments of the return, and ambiguity-sensitive agents, which act differently when recognizing situations in which they lack knowledge. Humans are also known to be averse to ambiguity and sensitive to risk in ways that aren't Bayes-optimal, indicating that such sensitivity can confer advantages, especially in safety-critical situations. How can we extend the meta-learning protocol to generate risk- and ambiguity-sensitive agents? The goal of this work is to fill this gap in the literature by showing that risk- and ambiguity-sensitivity also emerge as the result of an optimization problem using modified meta-training algorithms, which manipulate the experience-generation process of the learner. We empirically test our proposed meta-training algorithms on agents exposed to foundational classes of decision-making experiments and demonstrate that they become sensitive to risk and ambiguity.

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