Thalamus: a brain-inspired algorithm for biologically-plausible continual learning and disentangled representationsDownload PDF

Published: 01 Feb 2023, Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023ICLR 2023 posterReaders: Everyone
Keywords: brain-inspired learning, neuroscience, recurrent neural networks, context inference, bayesian brain
TL;DR: A brain-inspired algorithm that alternates optimizing in weight space with optimizing the latent embedding space in the same neural network leading to open-ended discovery of tasks and disentangled learning.
Abstract: Animals thrive in a constantly changing environment and leverage the temporal structure to learn well-factorized causal representations. In contrast, traditional neural networks suffer from forgetting in changing environments and many methods have been proposed to limit forgetting with different trade-offs. Inspired by the brain thalamocortical circuit, we introduce a simple algorithm that uses optimization at inference time to generate internal representations of the current task dynamically. The algorithm alternates between updating the model weights and a latent task embedding, allowing the agent to parse the stream of temporal experience into discrete events and organize learning about them. On a continual learning benchmark, it achieves competitive end average accuracy by mitigating forgetting, but importantly, the interaction between the weights dynamics and the latent dynamics organizes knowledge into flexible structures with a cognitive interface to control them. Tasks later in the sequence can be solved through knowledge transfer as they become reachable within the well-factorized latent space. The algorithm meets many of the desiderata of an ideal continually learning agent in open-ended environments, and its simplicity suggests fundamental computations in circuits with abundant feedback control loops such as the thalamocortical circuits in the brain
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