State2Explanation: Concept-Based Explanations to Benefit Agent Learning and User Understanding


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With more complex AI systems used by non-AI experts to complete daily tasks, there is an increasing effort to develop methods that produce explanations of AI decision making understandable by non-AI experts. Towards this effort, leveraging higher-level concepts and producing concept-based explanations have become a popular method. Most concept-based explanations have been developed for classification techniques, and we posit that the few existing methods for sequential decision making are limited in scope. In this work, we first contribute a desiderata for defining "concepts" in sequential decision making settings. Additionally, inspired by the Protege Effect which states explaining knowledge often reinforces one's self-learning, we explore the utility of concept-based explanations providing a dual benefit to the RL agent by improving agent learning rate, and to the end-user by improving end-user understanding of agent decision making. To this end, we contribute a unified framework, State2Explanation (S2E), that involves learning a joint embedding model between state-action pairs and concept-based explanations, and leveraging such learned model to both (1) inform reward shaping during an agent's training, and (2) provide explanations to end-users at deployment for improved task performance. Our experimental validations, in Connect 4 and Lunar Lander, demonstrate the success of S2E in providing a dual-benefit, successfully informing reward shaping and improving agent learning rate, as well as significantly improving end user task performance at deployment time.
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