The program induction route to explainability and safety in autonomous systems

I will be giving a talk, as part of the IPAB seminar series, through which I will try to further develop this framing of the problem which I expect our group to try to solve in the medium term. In a certain sense, my case will hark back to fairly well established techniques familiar to […]

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Rule-bound robots and reckless humans

I found this article, and the associated discussions about what exactly is needed for a useful level of autonomy to be really interesting: http://nyti.ms/1LRy9MF. A point that immediately stands out is this: “Researchers in the fledgling field of autonomous vehicles say that one of the biggest challenges facing automated cars is blending them into a world […]

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Individual brain vs. cooperative behavior

Interesting observation (by Kim Hill, social anthropologist, Arizona State University) that I came across while reading something today: “Humans are not special because of their big brains. That’s not the reason we can build rocket ships — no individual can. We have rockets because 10,000 individuals can cooperate in producing the information.” Advertisements

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On finite representations of infinite problems

A very nice theme that has emerged from research on perception, during the past couple of decades, is the idea that the apparent complexity of a variety of things ranging from images to natural language may be described as synthesis from a much smaller basis. These kinds of generative models are the bread and butter […]

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On bottom-up/top-down development of concepts

For many years now, beginning with some questions that were part of my doctoral dissertation research, I have been curious about multi-level models that describe phenomena and strategies. A fundamental question that arises in this setting is regarding which direction (top-down/bottom-up) takes primacy. A particular sense in which this directly touches upon my work is […]

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Scalable versions of differential game theory

Dr. Benjamin Mann, a program manager at DARPA, outlines 23 mathematical challenges for this century. Many of them are fairly well known problems that would appear in any such list. One challenge question that may not have been so easy to guess (although I fully support its selection) is “What new scalable mathematics is needed […]

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When does machine learning make a difference (or, why bother)?

I found myself wondering about this based on some recent experiences with an interesting project. Since this is ongoing work whose direction I am still pondering, let me just say that this project involves some fairly complex dynamics of the sort that can be described by a nonlinear partial differential equation. It is complex, but […]

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Why modularity?

I have had a number of conversations in the past few months where this question has come up. Typically, the question is whether biological systems – ranging from cellular biochemistry to cognitive processes – are actually modular or simply assumed to be so due to the background and inclination of the person studying it. So, […]

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