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Biological underpinnings for lifelong learning machines


Kudithipudi, Dhireesha; Aguilar-Simon, Mario; Babb, Jonathan; Bazhenov, Maxim; Blackiston, Douglas; Bongard, Josh; Brna, Andrew P.; Chakravarthi Raja, Suraj; Cheney, Nick; Clune, Jeff; Madireddy, Sandeep; Yanguas-Gil, Angel


Biological organisms learn from interactions with their environment throughout their lifetime. For artificial systems to successfully act and adapt in the real world, it is desirable to similarly be able to learn on a continual basis. This challenge is known as lifelong learning, and remains to a large extent unsolved. In this Perspective article, we identify a set of key capabilities that artificial systems will need to achieve lifelong learning. We describe a number of biological mechanisms, both neuronal and non-neuronal, that help explain how organisms solve these challenges, and present examples of biologically inspired models and biologically plausible mechanisms that have been applied to artificial systems in the quest towards development of lifelong learning machines. We discuss opportunities to further our understanding and advance the state of the art in lifelong learning, aiming to bridge the gap between natural and artificial intel​li​gence​.It is an outstanding challenge to develop intelligent machines that can learn continually from interactions with their environment, throughout their lifetime. Kudithipudi et al. review neuronal and non-neuronal processes in organisms that address this challenge and discuss pathways to developing biologically inspired approaches for lifelong learning machines.