General Intelligence Requires Rethinking Exploration

15 Nov 2022  ·  Minqi Jiang, Tim Rocktäschel, Edward Grefenstette ·

We are at the cusp of a transition from "learning from data" to "learning what data to learn from" as a central focus of artificial intelligence (AI) research. While the first-order learning problem is not completely solved, large models under unified architectures, such as transformers, have shifted the learning bottleneck from how to effectively train our models to how to effectively acquire and use task-relevant data. This problem, which we frame as exploration, is a universal aspect of learning in open-ended domains, such as the real world. Although the study of exploration in AI is largely limited to the field of reinforcement learning, we argue that exploration is essential to all learning systems, including supervised learning. We propose the problem of generalized exploration to conceptually unify exploration-driven learning between supervised learning and reinforcement learning, allowing us to highlight key similarities across learning settings and open research challenges. Importantly, generalized exploration serves as a necessary objective for maintaining open-ended learning processes, which in continually learning to discover and solve new problems, provides a promising path to more general intelligence.

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