Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)
DJ Strouse, Kevin McKee, Matt Botvinick, Edward Hughes, Richard Everett
Collaborating with humans requires rapidly adapting to their individual strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Unfortunately, most standard multi-agent reinforcement learning techniques, such as self-play (SP) or population play (PP), produce agents that overfit to their training partners and do not generalize well to humans. Alternatively, researchers can collect human data, train a human model using behavioral cloning, and then use that model to train "human-aware" agents ("behavioral cloning play", or BCP). While such an approach can improve the generalization of agents to new human co-players, it involves the onerous and expensive step of collecting large amounts of human data first. Here, we study the problem of how to train agents that collaborate well with human partners without using human data. We argue that the crux of the problem is to produce a diverse set of training partners. Drawing inspiration from successful multi-agent approaches in competitive domains, we find that a surprisingly simple approach is highly effective. We train our agent partner as the best response to a population of self-play agents and their past checkpoints taken throughout training, a method we call Fictitious Co-Play (FCP). Our experiments focus on a two-player collaborative cooking simulator that has recently been proposed as a challenge problem for coordination with humans. We find that FCP agents score significantly higher than SP, PP, and BCP when paired with novel agent and human partners. Furthermore, humans also report a strong subjective preference to partnering with FCP agents over all baselines.