Goals as Reward-Producing Programs

Panels a-d show different goals, presented in natural language and mapped to pseudo-code in a program-like representation; panel e shows a set of varied yet related goals in our experiment environment.

People are remarkably capable of generating their own goals, beginning with child’s play and continuing into adulthood. Despite considerable empirical and computational work on goals and goal-oriented behavior, models are still far from capturing the richness of everyday human goals. Here, we bridge this gap by collecting a dataset of human-generated playful goals, modeling them as reward-producing programs, and generating novel human-like goals through program synthesis. Reward-producing programs capture the rich semantics of goals through symbolic operations that compose, add temporal constraints, and allow for program execution on behavioral traces to evaluate progress. To build a generative model of goals, we learn a fitness function over the infinite set of possible goal programs and sample novel goals with a quality-diversity algorithm. Human evaluators found that model generated goals, when sampled from partitions of program space occupied by human examples, were indistinguishable from human-created games. We also discovered that our model’s internal fitness scores predict games that are evaluated as more fun to play and more human-like.

Presented at the Intrinsically Motivated Open-ended Learning Workshop @ NeurIPS 2023, journal-length version soon to be submitted.

PhD Student

PhD Candidate in Cognitive Science/Data Science by day, avid cook and Ultimate Frisbee player by night.