Benjamin Kuipers, Patrick Beeson, Joseph Modayil, and Jefferson Provost. 2006.
Bootstrap learning of foundational representations.
Connection Science, 18(2), June 2006, pages 145-158.


To be autonomous, intelligent robots must learn the foundations of commonsense knowledge from their own sensorimotor experience in the world. We describe four recent research results that contribute to a theory of how a robot learning agent can bootstrap from the blooming buzzing confusion of the pixel level to a higher-level ontology including distinctive states, places, objects, and actions. This is not a single learning problem, but a lattice of related learning tasks, each providing prerequisites for tasks to come later. Starting with completely uninterpreted sense and motor vectors, as well as an unknown environment, we show how a learning agent can separate the sense vector into modalities, learn the structure of individual modalities, learn natural primitives for the motor system, identify reliable relations between primitive actions and created sensory features, and can define useful control laws for homing and path-following. Building on this framework, we show how an agent can use to self-organizing maps to identify useful sensory featurs in the environment, and can learn effective hill-climbing control laws to define distinctive states in terms of thos features, and trajectoryfollowing control laws to move from one distinctive state to another. Moving on to place recognition, we show how an agent can combine unsupervised learning, map-learning, and supervised learning to achieve high-performance recognition of places from rich sensory input. And finally, we take the first steps toward learning an ontology of objects, showing tha a bootstrap learning robot can learn to individuate objects through motion, separating them from the static environment and from each other, and learning properties that will be useful for classification. These are four key steps in a much larger research enterprise that lays the foundation for human and robot commonsense knowledge.


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