Goal-Guided Neural Cellular Automata: Learning to Control Self-Organising Systems

25 Apr 2022  ·  Shyam Sudhakaran, Elias Najarro, Sebastian Risi ·

Inspired by cellular growth and self-organization, Neural Cellular Automata (NCAs) have been capable of "growing" artificial cells into images, 3D structures, and even functional machines. NCAs are flexible and robust computational systems but -- similarly to many other self-organizing systems -- inherently uncontrollable during and after their growth process. We present an approach to control these type of systems called Goal-Guided Neural Cellular Automata (GoalNCA), which leverages goal encodings to control cell behavior dynamically at every step of cellular growth. This approach enables the NCA to continually change behavior, and in some cases, generalize its behavior to unseen scenarios. We also demonstrate the robustness of the NCA with its ability to preserve task performance, even when only a portion of cells receive goal information.

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