Reward Reports for Reinforcement Learning

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The desire to build good systems in the face of complex societal effects requires a dynamic approach towards equity and access. Recent approaches to machine learning (ML) documentation have demonstrated the promise of discursive frameworks for deliberation about these complexities. However, these developments have been grounded in a static ML paradigm, leaving the role of feedback and post-deployment performance unexamined. Meanwhile, recent work in reinforcement learning design has shown that the effects of optimization objectives on the resultant system behavior can be wide-ranging and unpredictable. In this paper we sketch a framework for documenting deployed learning systems, which we call Reward Reports. Taking inspiration from various contributions to the technical literature on reinforcement learning, we outline Reward Reports as living documents that track updates to design choices and assumptions behind what a particular automated system is optimizing for. They are intended to track dynamic phenomena arising from system deployment, rather than merely static properties of models or data. After presenting the elements of a Reward Report, we provide three examples: DeepMind's MuZero, MovieLens, and a hypothetical deployment of a Project Flow traffic control policy.

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