Reinforcement learning and artificial agency

Mind and Language 39 (1):22-38 (2024)
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There is an apparent connection between reinforcement learning and agency. Artificial entities controlled by reinforcement learning algorithms are standardly referred to as agents, and the mainstream view in the psychology and neuroscience of agency is that humans and other animals are reinforcement learners. This article examines this connection, focusing on artificial reinforcement learning systems and assuming that there are various forms of agency. Artificial reinforcement learning systems satisfy plausible conditions for minimal agency, and those which use models of the environment to perform forward search are capable of a form of agency which may reasonably be called action for reasons.



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Patrick Butlin
University of Oxford

Citations of this work

Understanding Artificial Agency.Leonard Dung - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.

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Kinds of Mind.Daniel C. Dennett - 2000 - Mind 109 (436):883-890.
Agency and Moral Status.Jeff Sebo - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (1):1-22.

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