Vygotskian Autotelic Artificial Intelligence: Language and Culture Internalization for Human-Like AI

by   Cédric Colas, et al.

Building autonomous artificial agents able to grow open-ended repertoires of skills is one of the fundamental goals of AI. To that end, a promising developmental approach recommends the design of intrinsically motivated agents that learn new skills by generating and pursuing their own goals - autotelic agents. However, existing algorithms still show serious limitations in terms of goal diversity, exploration, generalization or skill composition. This perspective calls for the immersion of autotelic agents into rich socio-cultural worlds. We focus on language especially, and how its structure and content may support the development of new cognitive functions in artificial agents, just like it does in humans. Indeed, most of our skills could not be learned in isolation. Formal education teaches us to reason systematically, books teach us history, and YouTube might teach us how to cook. Crucially, our values, traditions, norms and most of our goals are cultural in essence. This knowledge, and some argue, some of our cognitive functions such as abstraction, compositional imagination or relational thinking, are formed through linguistic and cultural interactions. Inspired by the work of Vygotsky, we suggest the design of Vygotskian autotelic agents able to interact with others and, more importantly, able to internalize these interactions to transform them into cognitive tools supporting the development of new cognitive functions. This perspective paper proposes a new AI paradigm in the quest for artificial lifelong skill discovery. It justifies the approach by uncovering examples of new artificial cognitive functions emerging from interactions between language and embodiment in recent works at the intersection of deep reinforcement learning and natural language processing. Looking forward, it highlights future opportunities and challenges for Vygotskian Autotelic AI research.


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