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Embodied vision for learning object representations

2022-05-12 16:36:27
Arthur Aubret, Céline Teulière, Jochen Triesch


Recent time-contrastive learning approaches manage to learn invariant object representations without supervision. This is achieved by mapping successive views of an object onto close-by internal representations. When considering this learning approach as a model of the development of human object recognition, it is important to consider what visual input a toddler would typically observe while interacting with objects. First, human vision is highly foveated, with high resolution only available in the central region of the field of view. Second, objects may be seen against a blurry background due to infants' limited depth of field. Third, during object manipulation a toddler mostly observes close objects filling a large part of the field of view due to their rather short arms. Here, we study how these effects impact the quality of visual representations learnt through time-contrastive learning. To this end, we let a visually embodied agent "play" with objects in different locations of a near photo-realistic flat. During each play session the agent views an object in multiple orientations before turning its body to view another object. The resulting sequence of views feeds a time-contrastive learning algorithm. Our results show that visual statistics mimicking those of a toddler improve object recognition accuracy in both familiar and novel environments. We argue that this effect is caused by the reduction of features extracted in the background, a neural network bias for large features in the image and a greater similarity between novel and familiar background regions. We conclude that the embodied nature of visual learning may be crucial for understanding the development of human object perception.

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