PhD Position F/M Development of socio-cultural intelligence in Deep RL agents



February 2, 2022


2022-04386 - PhD Position F/M Development of socio-cultural intelligence in Deep RL agents

Contract type : Fixed-term contract

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : PhD Position

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria Bordeaux Sud-Ouest centre is one of Inria's eight centres and has around twenty research teams. The Inria centre is a major and recognized player in the field of digital sciences. It is at the heart of a rich R&D and innovation ecosystem: highly innovative SMEs, large industrial groups, competitiveness clusters, research and higher education players, laboratories of excellence, technological research institute...


Building embodied autonomous agents capable of participating in social interactions with humans is one of the main challenges in AI. Within the Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) field, this objective motivated multiple works on embodied language use. However, current approaches focus on language as a communication tool in very simplified and non-diverse social situations: the "naturalness" of language is reduced to the concept of high vocabulary size and variability.

We argue that aiming towards human-level AI requires a broader set of key social skills: 1) language use in complex and variable social contexts involving mastery and understanding of theory of mind and diverse pragmatic frames; 2) beyond language, complex embodied communication in multimodal settings within constantly evolving social worlds.

This PhD will leverage concepts from cognitive sciences (in particular the theories of Jerome Bruner and Michael Tomasello) to draw a roadmap aiming to get AI towards human-like intelligence, with a focus on its social dimensions. As a first step, this PhD will propose to expand current research to a broader set of core social skills. To do this, this PhD will develop a new set of environments, called SocialAI (leveraging the first step of this project described in the technical report: https: //, to both train and assess the acquisition of social skills of DRL agents using multiple grid-world environments featuring other (scripted) social agents. This PhD will then study the limits of current DRL approach when tested on SocialAI and study what novel architectural, interactive and socio-cultural biases, together with associated curriculum learning, are needed to acquire this set of social skills.


Missions : See above

Collaboration : This PhD will be co-supervised by PY Oudeyer and Peter Ford Dominey (CNRS, Dijon)

Main activities
  • Review of litterature
  • Environments design and evaluation
  • Learning algorithms design and evaluation
  • Scientific article and blog post writing
  • Presentation in conferences and outreach events
  • Skills

    Requires competences: deep (reinforcement) learning techniques, cognitive modelling, pyTorch/tensorFlow, ability to read and comprehend cognitive sciences litterature, interdisiplinary collaborations.

    Benefits package
  • Subsidized meals
  • Partial reimbursement of public transport costs
  • Professional equipment available (videoconferencing, loan of computer equipment, etc.)
  • Social, cultural and sports events and activities
  • Access to vocational training
  • Social security coverage
  • Remuneration

    1982€ / month (before taxs) during the first 2 years, 2085€ / month (before taxs) during the third year.

    General Information
  • Theme/Domain : Robotics and Smart environments Statistics (Big data) (BAP E)

  • Town/city : Talence

  • Inria Center : CRI Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest
  • Starting date : 2022-03-01
  • Duration of contract : 3 years
  • Deadline to apply : 2022-02-02
  • Contacts
  • Inria Team : FLOWERS
  • PhD Supervisor : Oudeyer Pierre-yves /
  • About Inria

    Inria is the French national research institute dedicated to digital science and technology. It employs 2,600 people. Its 200 agile project teams, generally run jointly with academic partners, include more than 3,500 scientists and engineers working to meet the challenges of digital technology, often at the interface with other disciplines. The Institute also employs numerous talents in over forty different professions. 900 research support staff contribute to the preparation and development of scientific and entrepreneurial projects that have a worldwide impact.

    Instruction to apply

    Thank you to send: - CV - Cover letter - Master marks and ranking - Support letter(s)

    Defence Security : This position is likely to be situated in a restricted area (ZRR), as defined in Decree No. 2011-1425 relating to the protection of national scientific and technical potential (PPST).Authorisation to enter an area is granted by the director of the unit, following a favourable Ministerial decision, as defined in the decree of 3 July 2012 relating to the PPST. An unfavourable Ministerial decision in respect of a position situated in a ZRR would result in the cancellation of the appointment.

    Recruitment Policy : As part of its diversity policy, all Inria positions are accessible to people with disabilities.

    Warning : you must enter your e-mail address in order to save your application to Inria. Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website. Processing of applications sent from other channels is not guaranteed.