Abstract: As more robots act in physical proximity to people, it is essential to ensure they make decisions and execute actions that align with human values. To do so, robots need to understand the true intentions behind human-issued commands. In this paper, we define a safe robot as one that receives a natural-language command from humans, considers an action in response to that command, and accurately predicts how humans will judge that action if is executed in reality. Our contribution is two-fold: First, we introduce a web platform for human users to propose commands to simulated robots. The robots receive commands and act based on those proposed commands, and then the users provide positive and/or negative reinforcement. Next, we train a critic for each robot to predict the crowd's responses to one of the crowd-proposed commands. Second, we show that the morphology of a robot plays a role in the way it grounds language: The critics show that two of the robots used in the experiment achieve a lower prediction error than the others. Thus, those two robots are safer, according to our definition, since they ground the proposed command more accurately.
[edit database entry]
Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).