Reading and Acting while Blindfolded: The Need for Semantics in Text Game Agents

Shunyu Yao, Karthik Narasimhan, Matthew Hausknecht

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Text-based games simulate worlds and interact with players using natural language. Recent work has used them as a testbed for autonomous language-understanding agents, with the motivation being that understanding the meanings of words or semantics is a key component of how humans understand, reason, and act in these worlds. However, it remains unclear to what extent artificial agents utilize semantic understanding of the text. To this end, we perform experiments to systematically reduce the amount of semantic information available to a learning agent. Surprisingly, we find that an agent is capable of achieving high scores even in the complete absence of language semantics, indicating that the currently popular experimental setup and models may be poorly designed to understand and leverage game texts. To remedy this deficiency, we propose an inverse dynamics decoder to regularize the representation space and encourage exploration, which shows improved performance on several games including ZORK I. We discuss the implications of our findings for designing future agents with stronger semantic understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNAACL-HLT 2021 - 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Subtitle of host publicationHuman Language Technologies, Proceedings of the Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Pages3097-3102
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781954085466
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, NAACL-HLT 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 6 2021Jun 11 2021

Publication series

NameNAACL-HLT 2021 - 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Proceedings of the Conference

Conference

Conference2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, NAACL-HLT 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period6/6/216/11/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Information Systems
  • Software

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Reading and Acting while Blindfolded: The Need for Semantics in Text Game Agents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this