SheffieldML: What Reinforcement Learning tells us about Happiness - Prof Eleni Vasilaki

Prof. Eleni Vasilaki is the Head of the Machine Learning Group at The University of Sheffield.

Event kindly supported by Kollider (venue) and Barclays Eagle Labs (beers and pizza)

Talk Synopsis:
Reinforcement Learning is a type of learning that takes place with no explicit instructions but rather a generic feedback of success or failure. Arguably a most relevant type of learning to human and animal life, it has inspired machine learning for the last few decades. Recent advances by Google Deepmind, i.e. Computers with superhuman performance on Atari Games and Go, have brought attention to this fascinating field. I will take a trip in the history of Ancient Greece to talk about hetairai, wine and the link of Reinforcement Learning to the Epicurean Philosophy. I will interpret the most popular Reinforcement Learning method in the context of happiness and present what Reinforcement Learning tells us about living a successful life. I will discuss Reinforcement Learning from the point of view of Neuroscience mentioning experiments that help us understand the brain mechanisms related to reinforcement learning. I will finally conclude that simple mechanisms could underline phenomenally complex behaviours. And yes, there will be equations, but they are not necessary to follow the interpretations or conclusions.

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