Mayalen Etcheverry, Clément Moulin-Frier, Pierre-Yves Oudeyer
Self-organization of complex morphological patterns from local interactions is a fascinating phenomenon in many natural and artificial systems. In the artificial world, typical examples of such morphogenetic systems are cellular automata. Yet, their mechanisms are often very hard to grasp and so far scientific discoveries of novel patterns have primarily been relying on manual tuning and ad hoc exploratory search. The problem of automated diversity-driven discovery in these systems was recently introduced [26, 62], highlighting that two key ingredients are autonomous exploration and unsupervised representation learning to describe “relevant” degrees of variations in the patterns. In this paper, we motivate the need for what we call Meta-diversity search, arguing that there is not a unique ground truth interesting diversity as it strongly depends on the final observer and its motives. Using a continuous game-of-life system for experiments, we provide empirical evidences that relying on monolithic architectures for the behavioral embedding design tends to bias the final discoveries (both for hand-defined and unsupervisedly-learned features) which are unlikely to be aligned with the interest of a final end-user. To address these issues, we introduce a novel dynamic and modular architecture that enables unsupervised learning of a hierarchy of diverse representations. Combined with intrinsically motivated goal exploration algorithms, we show that this system forms a discovery assistant that can efficiently adapt its diversity search towards preferences of a user using only a very small amount of user feedback.