Learning Robust Real-Time Cultural Transmission without Human Data

Cultural transmission is the domain-general social skill that allows agents to acquire and use information from each other in real-time with high fidelity and recall. In humans, it is the inheritance process that powers cumulative cultural evolution, expanding our skills, tools and knowledge across generations. We provide a method for generating zero-shot, high recall cultural transmission in artificially intelligent agents. Our agents succeed at real-time cultural transmission from humans in novel contexts without using any pre-collected human data. We identify a surprisingly simple set of ingredients sufficient for generating cultural transmission and develop an evaluation methodology for rigorously assessing it. This paves the way for cultural evolution as an algorithm for developing artificial general intelligence.