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Description: The Free Energy Principle (FEP), and its corollary the Active Inference Framework (ActInf), are shrouded by mystery. Is it aimed to provide a mechanical explanation for human cognition, new results in dynamical system theory, or something else entirely ? This article seeks to answer this question by outlining two essentially independant interpretations of the FEP/ActInf formalism, both offering valuable tools for the naturalistic study of life, mind, and society. The most consensual interpretation considers ActInf as an integrative framework, ie a set of formal and cognitive tools that lack (in and of itself) any explanatory power or reality, but can in principle be leveraged in the study of any system. This role fits well the naturalistic approach, as it provides an unifying language to integrate the study of nature while conserving the pluralist methodology entailed by contextual modelling. Another extreme view is that the FEP constitutes a grounding principle for the self-organisation of physical, biological and cognitive symmetries. A major difficulty for this view is the stationary aspect of the FEP formalism, which grounds intelligence as synchronisation across a Markov Blanket but fails to account for creative evolution. Overcoming this difficulty would not only help answer the enactive criticism of ActInf, but also establish the FEP as a fundamental truth which properly explains creative evolution in the universe.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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Active inference in collective intelligence

This project, undertaken in the contexte of the Active Inference Lab, seeks to study the dynamics of collective intelligence from an active inference ...

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