Encouraging Creativity and Curiosity in Robots

Our work shows that we can make smarter robots by encouraging them to think differently about their environment and to try new things. In the Creative Thinking Approach, we reward robots for having "ideas" they have never had before, meaning that they express novel patterns in the neurons of their simulated brains. A different algorithm we call Curiosity Search instead rewards agents for "doing something new", in the hopes that expressing a myriad of behaviors will allow them to discover skills that are useful for solving a task. Our research shows that both algorithms can speed up the evolution and learning of artificial agents that solve challenging problems.