I am a Computer Science PhD’s student at the University of Toronto studying Computational Social Science, my work is in applying machine learning to social science questions.

My current work is studying how to make deep reinforcement learning systems behave in a more human like way, studying how the language on social networks change over time and how programing languages affect their users thought and decisions.

Recent Publications:

Figure from the paper

Learning Personalized Models of Human Behavior in Chess

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

AAAI, under review 2022

Abstract pdf arΧiv

Even when machine learning systems surpass human ability in a domain, there are many reasons why AI systems that capture human-like behavior would be desirable: humans may want to learn from them, they may need to collaborate with them, or they may expect them to serve as partners in an extended interaction. Motivated by this goal of human-like AI systems, the problem of predicting human actions -- as opposed to predicting optimal actions -- has become an increasingly useful task. We extend this line of work by developing highly accurate personalized models of human behavior in the context of chess. Chess is a rich domain for exploring these questions, since it combines a set of appealing features: AI systems have achieved superhuman performance but still interact closely with human chess players both as opponents and preparation tools, and there is an enormous amount of recorded data on individual players. Starting with an open-source version of AlphaZero trained on a population of human players, we demonstrate that we can significantly improve prediction of a particular player's moves by applying a series of fine-tuning adjustments. Furthermore, we can accurately perform stylometry -- predicting who made a given set of actions -- indicating that our personalized models capture human decision-making at an individual level.

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

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

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.