Extended active inference: constructing predictive cognition beyond skulls

Constant, Axel, Clark, Andy, Kirchhoff, Michael and Friston, Karl J (2020) Extended active inference: constructing predictive cognition beyond skulls. Mind and Language. pp. 1-22. ISSN 0268-1064

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Cognitive niche construction is construed as a form of instrumental intelligence, whereby organisms create and maintain cause–effect models of their niche as guides for fitness influencing behavior. Extended mind theory claims that cognitive processes extend beyond the brain to include predictable states of the world – that function as cognitive extensions to support the performance of certain cognitive tasks. Predictive processing in cognitive science assumes that organisms (and their brains) embody predictive models of the world that are leveraged to guide adaptive behavior. On that view, standard cognitive functions – such as action, perception and learning – are geared towards the optimization of the organism’s predictive (i.e., generative) models of the world. Recent developments in predictive processing – known as active inference – suggest that niche construction is an emergent strategy for optimizing generative models. In this paper, based on the active inference formulation of niche construction, we first argue that cognitive niche construction can be studied as a cognitive function. Second, we argue that under the lens of active inference, cognitive niche construction can be viewed as a process of constructing, optimizing, and leveraging cognitive extensions; what we call extended active inference.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Work on this article was supported by a Postgraduate Research Scholarship in the Philosophy of Biomedicine (Ref: SC2730) as part of the ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship project A Philosophy of Medicine for the 21st Century (Ref: FL170100160) (AConstant), by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project “Minds in Skilled Performance” (DP170102987) (MK), and by a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship (Ref: 088130/Z/09/Z) (KJF).
Keywords: Cognitive niche theory, Predictive theories of cognition, Active inference, Extended cognition, Evolutionary cultural anthropology, Affordances, Niche construction
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Humanities Lab
Depositing User: Lucy Arnold
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2019 08:26
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2021 12:44
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88369

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Expecting Ourselves: Embodied Prediction and the Construction of Conscious Experience (XSPECT)UnsetEUROPEAN UNION692739