I am therefore I think
This overview of the free energy principle offers an account of embodied exchange with the world that associates neuronal operations with actively inferring the causes of our sensations. Its agenda is to link formal (mathematical) descriptions of dynamical systems to a description of perception in terms of beliefs and goals. The argument has two parts: the first calls on the lawful dynamics of any (weakly mixing) ergodic system – from a single cell organism to a human brain. These lawful dynamics suggest that (internal) states can be interpreted as modelling or predicting the (external) causes of sensory fluctuations. In other words, if a system exists, its internal states must encode probabilistic beliefs about external states. Heuristically, this means that if I exist (am) then I must have beliefs (think). The second part of the argument is that the only tenable beliefs I can entertain about myself are that I exist. This may seem rather obvious; however, it transpires that this is equivalent to believing that the world – and the way it is sampled – will resolve uncertainty about the causes of sensations. We will consider the implications for functional anatomy, in terms of predictive coding and hierarchical architectures, and conclude by looking at the epistemic behaviour that emerges – using simulations of active inference.
Date: 23 November 2016, 16:00 (Wednesday, 7th week, Michaelmas 2016)
Venue: Le Gros Clark Building, off South Parks Road OX1 3QX
Venue Details: Le Gros Clark Lecture Theatre
Speaker: Professor Karl Friston (University College of London)
Organising department: Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG)
Organiser: Ines Barreiros (University of Oxford)
Organiser contact email address: ines.barreiros@chch.ox.ac.uk
Host: Ines Barreiros (University of Oxford)
Part of: Cortex Club
Booking required?: Not required
Cost: FREE
Audience: Members of the University only
Editor: Ines Barreiros