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Active Inference for the Social Sciences ~ AII 2023

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Our team


Avel GUÉNIN--CARLUT - portait.jpeg
Avel GUÉNIN—CARLUT a PhD student in cognitive science under the supervision of Andy CLARK. They were trained in cognitive science, as well as complex systems physics. Their research focuses on the relation between cognition and cultural evolution, as well as the formalisation of the "unfolding" of physical possibilities in evolution and cognition and its link to consciousness / sentience. They are currently trying to integrate both through a strong account of cultural niche construction, describing the construction, integration, and enaction of "social constraints" by human agents under the formalism of Active Inference.
They have discussed in depth the relation between sociocultural evolution and agency, both at an individual and collective scale (Guénin--Carlut, Avel. 2022. “Cognitive Agency in Sociocultural Evolution.” OSF Preprints. ; Guénin—Carlut, Avel. 2022. “Thinking like a State : Embodied Intelligence in the Deep History of Our Collective Mind.” IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 1261 (1): 012026. They have also discussed the ability of the Active Inference formalism in accounting for the role of cognition in individuating physical possibilities (Guénin--Carlut, Avel. 2022. “Physics of Creation - Symmetry Breaking, (En)Active Inference, and Unfolding Statespaces.” OSF Preprints., and are presently investigating the issue further through an epistemological and mathematical account of constraint formation.
Avel GUÉNIN—CARLUT is responsible for the
@Introduction (Lecture)
@Social constraints (Lecture)
@Social constraints (Discussion)
, and
@Conclusion (Discussion)
sessions, as well as the coordination and definition of the course curriculum.

Ben White

Ben White - portrait.png
Ben White is currently a second-year PhD candidate in philosophy and a doctoral tutor at the University of Sussex. His research project applies cutting-edge theoretical frameworks from cognitive science and neuroscience to philosophical questions about technology. He investigates how different forms of technology, including ambient smart technology and virtual reality, could impact how we think and feel, and asks questions about the best way to design and implement such technologies to promote their full potential.
Specifically, the frameworks that Ben is working through are the Free Energy Principle, Predictive Processing, and 4E cognitive science. His work at Sussex is funded the Leverhulme Trust’s ‘be.AI: biomimetic embodied AI’ research program. This highly interdisciplinary research team is based in the School of Engineering and Informatics, and investigates how intelligent behaviour arises from the interaction between embodied cognitive systems and their environments.
Ben White is responsible for the
@Basics of ActInf (Lecture)
@Basics of ActInf (Discussion)

Mahault Albarracin

Mahault Albarracin - portrait.jpg
Mahault Albarracin is a distinguished researcher and professional with a diverse background spanning multiple domains. Currently affiliated with the Université du Québec à Montréal for her PhD in cognitive computing, her research interests include active inference, scripts theory, neo-materialism, artificial intelligence, and resilience.

Mahault's research contributions are extensive, with numerous papers published in recognized journals and preprint platforms. Some of her notable works include "Epistemic Communities under Active Inference," "A variational approach to scripts," and "Designing Ecosystems of Intelligence from First Principles." Her work has been recognized and cited by her peers, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in her areas of interest. In addition to her academic pursuits, Mahault has a rich professional history. She served as a Research Scientist on computational phenomenology and later as the Head of Product Innovations & Research at VERSES. She also held the position of Director of Product at Gameaddik and was the VP of Engineering at Nested Minds. Her roles have spanned across different locations, including Los Angeles, Montreal, and Liverpool.
Mahault Albarracin is responsible for the
@Norms, Scripts, Narratives, Languages (Lecture)
@Norms, Scripts, Narratives, Languages (Discussion)

Lorena Sganzerla

Lorena Sganzerla - portait.jpeg
I am interested in foundational questions in cognitive science. My PhD work concerns the status of information processing. It is widely supposed that cognition is based on information processing. This is a foundational assumption in the mainstream cognitive sciences and philosophy of mind. Several theories and frameworks take it as a ground-floor commitment that information is processed. Cognition is described in terms of processes that transform, organize, encode, and retrieve information. This talk of information processing needs closer inspection.
In my research I propose to investigate how we should understand this foundational commitment in cognitive science. I ask precisely how seriously do, or should, cognitive scientists take such talk? Is there or can we expect a full explication of what information is and an explanation of how it is processed? If not, then what is meant by information processing? Or is this notion of information processing just a useful fiction – a metaphor or artefact that can be used to help scientists build theories and models even if it supposes that no information is, really, ever processed in cognitive systems? Or, yet, is it a potentially misleading metaphor – one that we need to leave behind if we are to properly characterise and understand cognition?
Lorena Sganzerla is responsible for the
@Semiotics and Semantics (Lecture)
@Semiotics and Semantics (Discussion)

Daniel Friedman

Daniel Ari Friedman - logo.jpg
PhD in Ecology & Evolution (2019, Stanford University), studying the molecular basis of behavioral variation among ant colonies.
President and Co-founder of Active Inference Institute.
Interested in Art, Philosophy, Cognitive Security, Geometry, and Complexity.
Daniel Friedman is responsible for the
@Collective Behavior (Lecture)
@Collective Behavior (Discussion)
sessions, as well as the organization and management of the course.

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