I am a Postdoc working with Cynthia Dwork on solving fairness problems using machine learning. I recently recieved my PhD from the at the University of Toronto working at the Computational Social Science Lab with Ashton Anderson, my work is in understanding superhuman intelligences so they can be used to work with and teach humans.

My current work is studying how to make machine learning systems that can teach humans chess. This work created Maia Chess and I run the three most popular chess bots on Lichess.

Recent Papers:

Figure from the paper

Designing Skill-Compatible AI: Methodologies and Frameworks in Chess

Karim Hamade, Reid McIlroy-Young, Siddhartha Sen, Jon Kleinberg & Ashton Anderson

ICLR 2024

Abstract pdf

Powerful artificial intelligence systems are often used in settings where they must interact with agents that are computationally much weaker, for example when they work alongside humans or operate in complex environments where some tasks are handled by algorithms, heuristics, or other entities of varying computational power. For AI agents to successfully interact in these settings, however, achieving superhuman performance alone is not sufficient; they also need to account for suboptimal actions or idiosyncratic style from their less-skilled counterparts. We propose a formal evaluation framework for assessing the compatibility of near-optimal AI with interaction partners who may have much lower levels of skill; we use popular collaborative chess variants as model systems to study and develop AI agents that can successfully interact with lower-skill entities. Traditional chess engines designed to output near-optimal moves prove to be inadequate partners when paired with engines of various lower skill levels in this domain, as they are not designed to consider the presence of other agents. We contribute three methodologies to explicitly create skill-compatible AI agents in complex decision-making settings, and two chess game frameworks designed to foster collaboration between powerful AI agents and less-skilled partners. On these frameworks, our agents outperform state-of-the-art chess AI (based on AlphaZero) despite being weaker in conventional chess, demonstrating that skill-compatibility is a tangible trait that is qualitatively and measurably distinct from raw performance. Our evaluations further explore and clarify the mechanisms by which our agents achieve skill-compatibility.

Figure from the paper

Learning Models of Individual Behavior in Chess

Reid McIlroy-Young, Russell Wang, Siddhartha Sen, Jon Kleinberg & Ashton Anderson

KDD 2022

Abstract pdf arΧiv

AI systems that can capture human-like behavior are becoming increasingly useful in situations where humans may want to learn from these systems, collaborate with them, or engage with them as partners for an extended duration. In order to develop human-oriented AI systems, the problem of predicting human actions -- as opposed to predicting optimal actions -- has received considerable attention. Existing work has focused on capturing human behavior in an aggregate sense, which potentially limits the benefit any particular individual could gain from interaction with these systems. We extend this line of work by developing highly accurate predictive models of individual human behavior in chess. Chess is a rich domain for exploring human-AI interaction because it combines a unique set of properties: AI systems achieved superhuman performance many years ago, and yet humans still interact with them closely, both as opponents and as preparation tools, and there is an enormous corpus of recorded data on individual player games. Starting with Maia, an open-source version of AlphaZero trained on a population of human players, we demonstrate that we can significantly improve prediction accuracy of a particular player's moves by applying a series of fine-tuning methods. Furthermore, our personalized models can be used to perform stylometry -- predicting who made a given set of moves -- indicating that they capture human decision-making at an individual level. Our work demonstrates a way to bring AI systems into better alignment with the behavior of individual people, which could lead to large improvements in human-AI interaction.

Figure from the paper

Mimetic Models: Ethical Implications of AI that Acts Like You

Reid McIlroy-Young, Siddhartha Sen, Jon Kleinberg, Solon Barocas & Ashton Anderson

AIES 2022

Abstract pdf arΧiv

Press: Import AI

An emerging theme in artificial intelligence research is the creation of models to simulate the decisions and behavior of specific people, in domains including game-playing, text generation, and artistic expression. These models go beyond earlier approaches in the way they are tailored to individuals, and the way they are designed for interaction rather than simply the reproduction of fixed, pre-computed behaviors. We refer to these as mimetic models, and in this paper we develop a framework for characterizing the ethical and social issues raised by their growing availability. Our framework includes a number of distinct scenarios for the use of such models, and considers the impacts on a range of different participants, including the target being modeled, the operator who deploys the model, and the entities that interact with it.

Figure from the paper

Detecting Individual Decision-Making Style: Exploring Behavioral Stylometry in Chess

Reid McIlroy-Young, Russell Wang, Siddhartha Sen, Jon Kleinberg & Ashton Anderson

NeurIPS 2021

Abstract pdf code

Press: Science

The advent of machine learning models that surpass human decision-making ability in complex domains has initiated a movement towards building AI systems that interact with humans. Many building blocks are essential for this activity, with a central one being the algorithmic characterization of human behavior. While much of the existing work focuses on aggregate human behavior, an important long-range goal is to develop behavioral models that specialize to individual people and can differentiate among them. To formalize this process, we study the problem of behavioral stylometry, in which the task is to identify a decision-maker from their decisions alone. We present a transformer-based approach to behavioral stylometry in the context of chess, where one attempts to identify the player who played a set of games. Our method operates in a few-shot classification framework, and can correctly identify a player from among thousands of candidate players with 98% accuracy given only 100 labeled games. Even when trained on amateur play, our method generalises to out-of-distribution samples of Grandmaster players, despite the dramatic differences between amateur and world-class players. Finally, we consider more broadly what our resulting embeddings reveal about human style in chess, as well as the potential ethical implications of powerful methods for identifying individuals from behavioral data.

Figure from the paper

Aligning Superhuman AI with Human Behavior: Chess as a Model System

Reid McIlroy-Young, Siddhartha Sen, Jon Kleinberg & Ashton Anderson

KDD 2020

Abstract pdf arΧiv code Lichess

Press: WIRED Engadget TNW the morning paper agadmator U of T News Neural Networks For Chess BBC Science Focus WIRED Youtube

As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly intelligent---in some cases, achieving superhuman performance---there is growing potential for humans to learn from and collaborate with algorithms. However, the ways in which AI systems approach problems are often different from the ways people do, and thus may be uninterpretable and hard to learn from. A crucial step in bridging this gap between human and artificial intelligence is modeling the granular actions that constitute human behavior, rather than simply matching aggregate human performance. We pursue this goal in a model system with a long history in artificial intelligence: chess. The aggregate performance of a chess player unfolds as they make decisions over the course of a game. The hundreds of millions of games played online by players at every skill level form a rich source of data in which these decisions, and their exact context, are recorded in minute detail. Applying existing chess engines to this data, including an open-source implementation of AlphaZero, we find that they do not predict human moves well. We develop and introduce Maia, a customized version of Alpha-Zero trained on human chess games, that predicts human moves at a much higher accuracy than existing engines, and can achieve maximum accuracy when predicting decisions made by players at a specific skill level in a tuneable way. For a dual task of predicting whether a human will make a large mistake on the next move, we develop a deep neural network that significantly outperforms competitive baselines. Taken together, our results suggest that there is substantial promise in designing artificial intelligence systems with human collaboration in mind by first accurately modeling granular human decision-making.

The full list is in Publications and my CV.