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Evolutionary Computation

Fall 1996, Vol. 4, No. 3, Pages 235-270
(doi: 10.1162/evco.1996.4.3.235)
© 1996 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Modeling the Evolution of Motivation
Article PDF (2.2 MB)
Abstract

For learning to improve the adaptiveness of an animal's behavior, and thus direct evolution in the way Baldwin suggested, the learning mechanism must incorporate an innate evaluation of how the animal's actions influence its reproductive fitness. For example, many circumstances that damage an animal or otherwise reduce its fitness are painful and tend to be avoided. We refer to the mechanism by which an animal evaluates the fitness consequences of its actions as a “motivation system,” and argue that such a system must evolve along with the behaviors it evaluates. We describe simulations of the evolution of populations of agents instantiating a number of different architectures for generating action and learning in worlds of differing complexity. We find that in some cases, members of the populations evolve motivation systems that are accurate enough to direct learning so as to increase the fitness of the actions that the agents perform. Furthermore, the motivation systems tend to incorporate systematic distortions in their representations of the worlds they inhabit; these distortions can increase the adaptiveness of the behavior generated.