Overcoming Deception in Evolution of Cognitive Behaviors

Joel Lehman, Risto Miikkulainen

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


When scaling neuroevolution to complex behaviors, cognitive capabilities such as learning, communication, and memory become increasingly important. However, successfully evolving such cognitive abilities remains difficult. This paper argues that a main cause for such difficulty is deception, i.e. evolution converges to a behavior unrelated to the desired solution. More specifically, cognitive behaviors often require accumulating neural structure that provides no immediate fitness benefit, and evolution often thus converges to non-cognitive solutions. To investigate this hypothesis, a common evolutionary robotics T-Maze domain is adapted in three separate ways to require agents to communicate, remember, and learn. Indicative of deception, evolution driven by objective-based fitness often converges upon simple non- cognitive behaviors. In contrast, evolution driven to explore novel behaviors, i.e. novelty search, often evolves the desired cognitive behaviors. The conclusion is that open-ended methods of evolution may better recognize and reward the stepping stones that are necessary for cognitive behavior to emerge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGenetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference : GECCO '14 Proceedings of the 2014 Annual Conference on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2014
ISBN (Print)9781450326629
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • $$evolution
  • $$modeling
  • cognition
  • diversity maintenance
  • evolutionary robotics


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