Zero-shot cross-modal transfer of Reinforcement Learning policies through a Global Workspace

Léopold Maytié, Benjamin Devillers, Alexandre Arnold, Rufin VanRullen
Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI)
2024-03-07 00:00:00
Humans perceive the world through multiple senses, enabling them to create a comprehensive representation of their surroundings and to generalize information across domains. For instance, when a textual description of a scene is given, humans can mentally visualize it. In fields like robotics and Reinforcement Learning (RL), agents can also access information about the environment through multiple sensors; yet redundancy and complementarity between sensors is difficult to exploit as a source of robustness (e.g. against sensor failure) or generalization (e.g. transfer across domains). Prior research demonstrated that a robust and flexible multimodal representation can be efficiently constructed based on the cognitive science notion of a 'Global Workspace': a unique representation trained to combine information across modalities, and to broadcast its signal back to each modality. Here, we explore whether such a brain-inspired multimodal representation could be advantageous for RL agents. First, we train a 'Global Workspace' to exploit information collected about the environment via two input modalities (a visual input, or an attribute vector representing the state of the agent and/or its environment). Then, we train a RL agent policy using this frozen Global Workspace. In two distinct environments and tasks, our results reveal the model's ability to perform zero-shot cross-modal transfer between input modalities, i.e. to apply to image inputs a policy previously trained on attribute vectors (and vice-versa), without additional training or fine-tuning. Variants and ablations of the full Global Workspace (including a CLIP-like multimodal representation trained via contrastive learning) did not display the same generalization abilities.
PDF: Zero-shot cross-modal transfer of Reinforcement Learning policies through a Global Workspace.pdf
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