Ashwin De Silva, Rahul Ramesh, Lyle Ungar, Marshall Hussain Shuler, Noah J. Cowan, Michael Platt, Chen Li, Leyla Isik, Seung Eon Roh, Adam Charles, Archana Venkataraman, Brian Caffo, Javier J. How, Justus M. Kebschull, John W. Krakauer, Maxim Bichuch, Kaleab Alemayehu Kinfu, Eva Yezerets, Dinesh Jayaraman, Jong M. ShinSoledad Villar, Ian Phillips, Carey E. Priebe, Thomas Hartung, Michael I. Miller, Jayanta Dey, Ningyuan Teresa Huang, Eric Eaton, Ralph Etienne-Cummings, Elizabeth L. Ogburn, Randal Burns, Onyema Osuagwu, Brett Mensh, Alysson R. Muotri, Julia Brown, Chris White, Weiwei Yang, Andrei A. Rusu, Timothy Verstynen, Konrad P. Kording, Pratik Chaudhari, Joshua T. Vogelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Learning is a process which can update decision rules, based on past experience, such that future performance improves. Traditionally, machine learning is often evaluated under the assumption that the future will be identical to the past in distribution or change adversarially. But these assumptions can be either too optimistic or pessimistic for many problems in the real world. Real world scenarios evolve over multiple spatiotemporal scales with partially predictable dynamics. Here we reformulate the learning problem to one that centers around this idea of dynamic futures that are partially learnable. We conjecture that certain sequences of tasks are not retrospectively learnable (in which the data distribution is fixed), but are prospectively learnable (in which distributions may be dynamic), suggesting that prospective learning is more difficult in kind than retrospective learning. We argue that prospective learning more accurately characterizes many real world problems that (1) currently stymie existing artificial intelligence solutions and/or (2) lack adequate explanations for how natural intelligences solve them. Thus, studying prospective learning will lead to deeper insights and solutions to currently vexing challenges in both natural and artificial intelligences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of Machine Learning Research
StatePublished - 2023
Event2nd Conference on Lifelong Learning Agents, CoLLA 2023 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Aug 22 2023Aug 25 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Statistics and Probability


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