Active inference and robot control: a case study.

Active inference is a general framework for perception and action that is gaining prominence in computational and systems neuroscience but is less known outside these fields. Here, we discuss a proof-of-principle implementation of the active inference scheme for the control or the 7-DoF arm of a (simulated) PR2 robot. By manipulating visual and proprioceptive noise levels, we show under which conditions robot control under the active inference scheme is accurate. Besides accurate control, our analysis of the internal system dynamics (e.g. the dynamics of the hidden states that are inferred during the inference) sheds light on key aspects of the framework such as the quintessentially multimodal nature of control and the differential roles of proprioception and vision. In the discussion, we consider the potential importance of being able to implement active inference in robots. In particular, we briefly review the opportunities for modelling psychophysiological phenomena such as sensory attenuation and related failures of gain control, of the sort seen in Parkinson's disease. We also consider the fundamental difference between active inference and optimal control formulations, showing that in the former the heavy lifting shifts from solving a dynamical inverse problem to creating deep forward or generative models with dynamics, whose attracting sets prescribe desired behaviours.

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Pio-Lopez, Leo
Nizard, Ange
Friston, Karl
Pezzulo, Giovanni
The Royal Society,, London , Regno Unito
Journal of the Royal Society interface (Print) 13 (2016).
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