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Habilitation À Diriger Des Recherches Year : 2022

The Ecology of Open-Ended Skill Acquisition


An intriguing feature of the human species is our ability to continuously invent new problems and to proactively acquiring new skills in order to solve them: what is called open-ended skill acquisition (OESA). Understanding the mechanisms underlying OESA is an important scientific challenge in both cognitive science (e.g. by studying infant cognitive development) and in artificial intelligence (aiming at computational architectures capable of open-ended learning). Both fields, however, mostly focus on cognitive and social mechanisms at the scale of an individual’s life. It is rarely acknowledged that OESA, an ability that is fundamentally related to the characteristics of human intelligence, has been necessarily shaped by ecological, evolutionary and cultural mechanisms interacting at multiple spatiotemporal scales. In this thesis, I present a research program aiming at understanding, modeling and simulating the dynamics of OESA in artificial systems, grounded in theories studying its eco-evolutionary bases in the human species. It relies on a conceptual framework expressing the complex interactions between environmental, adaptive, multi-agent and cultural dynamics. Three main research questions are developed and I present a selection of my contributions for each of them. - What are the ecological conditions favoring the evolution of skill acquisition? - How to bootstrap the formation of a cultural repertoire in populations of adaptive agents? - What is the role of cultural evolution in the open-ended dynamics of human skill acquisition? By developing these topics, we will reveal interesting relationships between theories in human evolution and recent approaches in artificial intelligence. This will lead to the proposition of a humanist perspective on AI: using it as a family of computational tools that can help us to explore and study the mechanisms driving open-ended skill acquisition in both artificial and biological systems, as a way to better understand the dynamics of our own species within its whole ecological context. This document presents an overview of my scientific trajectory since the start of my PhD thesis in 2007, the detail of my current research program, a selection of my contributions as well as perspectives for future work.
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tel-03875448 , version 1 (28-11-2022)


  • HAL Id : tel-03875448 , version 1


Clément Moulin-Frier. The Ecology of Open-Ended Skill Acquisition: Computational framework and experiments on the interactions between environmental, adaptive, multi-agent and cultural dynamics. Artificial Intelligence [cs.AI]. Université de Bordeaux (UB), 2022. ⟨tel-03875448⟩
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