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Workshop
Sat Dec 12 07:00 AM -- 02:10 PM (PST)
Talking to Strangers: Zero-Shot Emergent Communication
Marie Ossenkopf · Angelos Filos · Abhinav Gupta · Michael Noukhovitch · Angeliki Lazaridou · Jakob Foerster · Kalesha Bullard · Rahma Chaabouni · Eugene Kharitonov · Roberto Dessì





Communication is one of the most impressive human abilities but historically it has been studied in machine learning mainly on confined datasets of natural language. Thanks to deep RL, emergent communication can now be studied in complex multi-agent scenarios.

Three previous successful workshops (2017-2019) have gathered the community to discuss how, when, and to what end communication emerges, producing research later published at top ML venues (e.g., ICLR, ICML, AAAI). However, many approaches to studying emergent communication rely on extensive amounts of shared training time. Our question is: Can we do that faster?

Humans interact with strangers on a daily basis. They possess a basic shared protocol, but a huge partition is nevertheless defined by the context. Humans are capable of adapting their shared protocol to ever new situations and general AI would need this capability too.

We want to explore the possibilities for artificial agents of evolving ad hoc communication spontaneously, by interacting with strangers. Since humans excel on this task, we want to start by having the participants of the workshop take the role of their agents and develop their own bots for an interactive game. This will illuminate the necessities of zero-shot communication learning in a practical way and form a base of understanding to build algorithms upon. The participants will be split into groups and will have one hour to develop their bots. Then, a round-robin tournament will follow, where bots will play an iterated zero-shot communication game with other teams’ bots.

This interactive approach is especially aimed at the defined NeurIPS workshop goals to clarify questions for a subfield or application area and to crystallize common problems. It condenses our experience from former workshops on how workshop design can facilitate cooperation and progress in the field. We also believe that this will maximize the interactions and exchange of ideas between our community.

Welcome Remarks (Intro)
Intro to Ruth Byrne (Intro)
Invited Talk 1: Ruth Byrne (TCD) - How people make inferences about other people's inferences (Invited Talk)
Rules of the Game and Demo (Demonstration)
Coffee Break + Group Assignment (Break)
Live Coding Session (Coding Session)
Poster Session 1 (Poster Session)
Lunch Break + Game Matches (Break)
Winner's Talk (Presentation)
Intro to Michael Bowling (Intro)
Invited Talk 2: Michael Bowling (University of Alberta) - Hindsight Rationality: Alternatives to Nash (Invited Talk)
Intro to Richard Futrell (Intro)
Invited Talk 3: Richard Futrell (UCI) - Information-theoretic models of natural language (Invited Talk)
Poster Session 2 (Poster Session)
Chat about the Game (Presentation)
Panel Discussion (Discussion Panel)
Closing Remarks (Outro)
After-Workshop Social (Social)