What Reinforcement Learning Tells Us about Happiness

  • Date and time: Wednesday 10 May 2023, 1.30pm
  • Booking:

Event details

This event is hosted by Professor Susan Stepney.

Abstract: Reinforcement Learning, a form of learning without explicit instructions, relies on receiving feedback based on success or failure. This type of learning, which is highly relevant to both human and animal life, has been a source of inspiration for machine learning over the past few decades. Recent breakthroughs by Google DeepMind, such as achieving superhuman performance on Atari games and Go, have brought renewed interest to this intriguing field.

In this talk, I will journey back to Ancient Greece to explore the connections between reinforcement learning, hetairai, wine, and Epicurean philosophy. I will examine the most popular reinforcement learning method in the context of happiness and uncover what reinforcement learning can teach us about living a fulfilling life. I will also discuss reinforcement learning from a neuroscience perspective, referencing experiments that shed light on the brain mechanisms related to this form of learning.

Though equations will be presented, they won't be necessary for grasping the main ideas or conclusions of this talk.

Passcode: X%p4^wr!

About the speaker

Professor Eleni Vasilaki

Professor Eleni Vasilaki holds the position of the Chair of Bioinspired Machine Learning and leads the Machine Learning Group at the Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield, UK. Drawing from biological concepts, Eleni and her team focus on developing machine learning methods, with an emphasis on reinforcement learning and reservoir computing. Additionally, she collaborates with material scientists and engineers to design hardware that simulates brain-like computational processes.

Eleni earned her Bachelors degree in Informatics and Telecommunications and later a Masters degree in Microelectronics from the University of Athens. She went on to pursue a DPhil (PhD) in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sussex. Eleni's post-doctoral experience includes positions at the University of Bern from 2004 to 2006 and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) from 2007 to 2009. She joined the University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in 2009 and has been a Professor since 2016.

In 2021, acknowledging her work in the field, Eleni was appointed the Inge Strauch Visiting Professor at the Institute of Neuroinformatics, a joint initiative between the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich. This appointment showcases her dedication and expertise in bioinspired machine learning and neuroscience.

Contact us

Dr Dimitar Kazakov

Dr Dimitar Kazakov

Seminars organiser

+44 (0)1904 325676