Formal Theory of Fun & Creativity

author: Jurgen Schmidhuber, IDSIA
published: Dec. 13, 2010,   recorded: September 2010,   views: 2413


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To build a creative agent that never stops generating non-trivial & novel & surprising data, we need two learning modules: (1) an adaptive predictor or compressor or model of the growing data history as the agent is interacting with its environment, and (2) a general reinforcement learner. The LEARNING PROGRESS of (1) is the FUN or intrinsic reward of (2). That is, (2) is motivated to invent interesting things that (1) does not yet know but can easily learn. To maximize expected reward, in the absence of external reward (2) will create more and more complex behaviors that yield temporarily surprising (but eventually boring) patterns that make (1) quickly improve. We discuss how this principle explains science & art & music & humor, and how to scale up previous toy implementations of the theory since 1991, using recent powerful methods for (1) prediction and (2) reinforcement learning.

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 js8765, January 1, 2011 at 10:58 p.m.:

What's with the hat? All it does it focus people's attention on the fact that you must be bald...

Comment2 Mike, January 3, 2011 at 4:37 p.m.:

This is fantastic stuff. The first general algorithmic theory of scientific and artistic creativity, based on maximizing a reward function that measures "fun" obtained by making new non-trivial patterns with previously unknown regularities. Almost frightening to imagine what might happen if this stuff gets implemented on humanoid robots. They will want to have fun, too, and pursue their own "creative" goals all the time, not necessarily the goals of their teachers ...

Comment3 Ed Warner, January 6, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.:

Dr. Schmidhuber's theory of humor views jokes as subjectively unexpected patterns in the sense of algorithmic information theory. After learning or understanding a new joke one needs fewer bits to encode it than before. To evaluate the compression progress or fun, just count the saved bits. I feel this is a simple yet very deep insight. And he's applying the theory of humor well throughout the talk :-)

Comment4 Erick, February 27, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.:

too primitive, disputable and useless theory. author has to study more abstract mathematics, he seems to be bad in it :). cap is funny, it seems to be a part of image or as it was told substitution of hair :-D

Comment5 Office Neighbor, March 4, 2011 at 9:33 a.m.:

Erick S.K. writing letters again ... if you found a flaw in the math, which I greatly doubt, why don't you publish your findings in a peer-reviewed journal? You could submit your analysis to the IEEE Transactions, which published a survey of the theory.

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