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Active Inference for the Social Sciences ~ AII 2023

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Constructing cultural landscapes:

Active Inference for the Social Sciences

, Ben White, , Lorena Sganzerla,

A participatory online course in 2023 co-organized by and the Contact:

Key links:

All information about the course is hosted at a .
See the , with information on each session and link to the recordings.
See , where written questions can be submitted
See if you want to join livestreamed discussions.

Course Description

“Constructing cultural landscapes - Active Inference for the Social Sciences”
This twelve-session course will introduce participants to the basic concepts of Active Inference and their relevance to the social sciences. It will show how the physical organization of cognitive agents affords the description of their perceptions and actions as enacting a "world-model" that is an expression of their structural identity. It will focus more precisely on how this world-model is participatively constructed in human societies, both through the alteration of the common material niche and through the integration of social and linguistic norms. In short, it will provide a minimal formal and conceptual grounding to understand how human experience relates to the evolution of human societies.
This course is designed for learners of all backgrounds and familiarity with mathematics, physics and computer science. Although some sessions will discuss technical issues, they will focus for their intuitive meaning in relation to contemporary social and cognitive science. The goal of the course is to provide conceptual tools to understand the relation between social and cognitive sciences afford and encourage further research in this direction. It is emphatically not to provide a detailed account of the technical and philosophical issues surrounding the Active Inference framework, though such issues will be signposted & resources for further learning will be provided.
The course will be organized around five monthly presentation sessions that present major concepts and ideas, followed by discussions sessions where participants will be invited to take a more active role in articulating their own reflection on the matter. All sessions will be recorded and accessible asynchronously, and the transcripts of the sessions will be compiled and published.

Key Questions

What is it like to exist as an Active Inference agent?
What is the relation between cognitive meaning and the material (and social) niche an agent experiences?
How do humans construct (and relate to) a shared cultural reality?
What drives the open-ended evolution of norms and institutions?
What is the relation between the organization of a society and the patterns of its collective cognition?

Financing statement

Avel GUÉNIN—CARLUT’s research is financing by the , under the ERC Synergy Grant ERC-2020-SyG 951631.

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