Biological intelligence is remarkable in its ability to produce complex behaviour in many diverse situations through data efficient, generalisable and transferable skill acquisition. It is believed that learning "good" sensory representations is important for enabling this, however there is little agreement as to what a good representation should look like. In this review article we are going to argue that symmetry transformations are a fundamental principle that can guide our search for what makes a good representation. The idea that there exist transformations (symmetries) that affect some aspects of the system but not others, and their relationship to conserved quantities has become central in modern physics, resulting in a more unified theoretical framework and even ability to predict the existence of new particles. Recently, symmetries have started to gain prominence in machine learning too, resulting in more data efficient and generalisable algorithms that can mimic some of the complex behaviours produced by biological intelligence. Finally, first demonstrations of the importance of symmetry transformations for representation learning in the brain are starting to arise in neuroscience. Taken together, the overwhelming positive effect that symmetries bring to these disciplines suggest that they may be an important general framework that determines the structure of the universe, constrains the nature of natural tasks and consequently shapes both biological and artificial intelligence.
- Pub Date:
- March 2022
- Quantitative Biology - Neurons and Cognition;
- Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence;
- Computer Science - Machine Learning;
- Computer Science - Neural and Evolutionary Computing;
- Statistics - Machine Learning