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T. E. Portegys, "Discrimination Learning Guided By Instinct",
International Journal of Hybrid Intelligent Systems, 10 (2013) 129–136.
Complex organisms exhibit both evolved instincts and experiential learning as adaptive mechanisms. In isolation, neither mechanism is sufficient to successfully navigate the environments of such organisms. Instincts provide behaviors that are generally adaptive but fail in specific cases. Learning must rely on some internal or external guidance to succeed on challenging tasks. This paper explores how instincts and experiential learning can work in tandem to solve a maze environment. Specifically, instincts comprise general knowledge of a set of related mazes representing worlds that an organism might be born into, and experiential learning discriminates specific situations in the particular maze world that an organism is born into. Synergy is accomplished by a hybrid neural network, one part instinctive and the other part capable of learning. After sufficient discriminating experiences, learning can override instinct to navigate a maze when instinct would otherwise fail. Results show a marked improvement in performance when this synergistic approach is employed relative to using either instincts or learning in isolation.
T. E. Portegys, "Training sensory-motor behavior in the connectome of an artificial C. elegans",
Neurocomputing (2015), pp. 128-134. DOI: 10.1016/j.neucom.2015.06.007
The C. elegans nematode worm is a small well-known creature, intensely studied for decades. Its entire morphology has been mapped cell-by-cell, including its 302 neuron connectome. The connectome is a synaptic wiring diagram that also specifies neurotransmitters and junction types. It does not however specify the synaptic connection strengths. It is believed that measuring these must be done in live specimens, requiring emerging or yet to be developed techniques. Without the connection strengths, it is not known how the nematode's nervous system produces behaviors. Discovering these strengths as a set of weights is a challenging and important problem: an artificial worm embodying the connectome and trained to perform a set of behaviors taken from measurements of the actual C. elegans would behave realistically in its environment. This is a crucial step toward creating a functional artificial creature. Indeed, knowing the artificial weights might cast light on the actual ones. In this project a genetic algorithm was used to train the entire connectome, a large space of 3680 synapse weights, to learn behaviors defined as sensory-motor sequences. It was found that utilizing the topology of the connectome for local optimization and crossover significantly boosts the performance of the genetic algorithm. Using a network of artificial neurons, random sequences involving the entire connectome were successfully trained. Additionally, for locomotion training, sinusoidal body postures were observed when sensory touch neurons were stimulated. Locomotion training was done using a Fourier Transform fitness function. Finally, using the NEURON tool to simulate a biologically higher fidelity network, the pharyngeal assembly of neurons was successfully trained.
T. E. Portegys, "Training artificial neural networks to learn a nondeterministic game",
ICAI'15: The 2015 International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 2015.
It is well known that artificial neural networks (ANNs) can learn deterministic automata. Learning nondeterministic automata is another matter. This is important because much of the world is nondeterministic, taking the form of unpredictable or probabilistic events that must be acted upon. If ANNs are to engage such phenomena, then they must be able to learn how to deal with nondeterminism. In this project the game of Pong poses a nondeterministic environment. The learner is given an incomplete view of the game state and underlying deterministic physics, resulting in a nondeterministic game. Three models were trained and tested on the game: Mona, Elman, and Numenta's NuPIC.
Game play video.
A software prototype has been built for SpanTracker, a distance measuring device. A hardware prototype is under construction.