Alexander Tschantz

Alexander Tschantz
University of Sussex · Department of Informatics

About

38
Publications
9,073
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399
Citations
Citations since 2017
38 Research Items
399 Citations
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2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200

Publications

Publications (38)
Preprint
Full-text available
This white paper lays out a vision of research and development in the field of artificial intelligence for the next decade (and beyond). Its denouement is a cyber-physical ecosystem of natural and synthetic sense-making, in which humans are integral participants$\unicode{x2014}$what we call ''shared intelligence''. This vision is premised on active...
Article
Bruineberg and colleagues helpfully distinguish between instrumental and ontological interpretations of Markov blankets, exposing the dangers of using the former to make claims about the latter. However, proposing a sharp distinction neglects the value of recognising a continuum spanning from instrumental to ontological. This value extends to the r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Capsule networks are a neural network architecture specialized for visual scene recognition. Features and pose information are extracted from a scene and then dynamically routed through a hierarchy of vector-valued nodes called 'capsules' to create an implicit scene graph, with the ultimate aim of learning vision directly as inverse graphics. Despi...
Article
Backpropagation of error (backprop) is a powerful algorithm for training machine learning architectures through end-to-end differentiation. Recently it has been shown that backprop in multilayer perceptrons (MLPs) can be approximated using predictive coding, a biologically plausible process theory of cortical computation that relies solely on local...
Preprint
Predictive coding is an influential model of cortical neural activity. It proposes that perceptual beliefs are furnished by sequentially minimising "prediction errors" - the differences between predicted and observed data. Implicit in this proposal is the idea that perception requires multiple cycles of neural activity. This is at odds with evidenc...
Article
Full-text available
The free energy principle (FEP) states that any dynamical system can be interpreted as performing Bayesian inference upon its surrounding environment. Although, in theory, the FEP applies to a wide variety of systems, there has been almost no direct exploration or demonstration of the principle in concrete systems. In this work, we examine in depth...
Article
The adaptive regulation of bodily and interoceptive parameters, such as body temperature, thirst and hunger is a central problem for any biological organism. Here, we present a series of simulations using the framework of active inference to formally characterize interoceptive control and some of its dysfunctions. We start from the premise that the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Bruineberg and colleagues helpfully distinguish between instrumental and ontological interpretations of Markov blankets, exposing the dangers of using the former to make claims about the latter. However, proposing a sharp distinction neglects the value of recognising a continuum spanning from instrumental to ontological. This value extends to the r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Active inference is an account of cognition and behavior in complex systems which brings together action, perception, and learning under the theoretical mantle of Bayesian inference. Active inference has seen growing applications in academic research, especially in fields that seek to model human or animal behavior. While in recent years, some of t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Active inference is a mathematical framework which originated in computational neuroscience as a theory of how the brain implements action, perception and learning. Recently, it has been shown to be a promising approach to the problems of state-estimation and control under uncertainty, as well as a foundation for the construction of goal-driven beh...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents an active inference based simulation study of visual foraging. The goal of the simulation is to show the effect of the acquisition of culturally patterned attention styles on cognitive task performance, under active inference. We show how cultural artefacts like antique vase decorations drive cognitive functions such as percepti...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we introduce an active inference model of ant colony foraging behavior, and implement the model in a series of in silico experiments. Active inference is a multiscale approach to behavioral modeling that is being applied across settings in theoretical biology and ethology. The ant colony is a classic case system in the function of di...
Preprint
The Free Energy Principle (FEP) states that any dynamical system can be interpreted as performing Bayesian inference upon its surrounding environment. Although the FEP applies in theory to a wide variety of systems, there has been almost no direct exploration of the principle in concrete systems. In this paper, we examine in depth the assumptions r...
Preprint
Full-text available
The exploration-exploitation trade-off is central to the description of adaptive behaviour in fields ranging from machine learning, to biology, to economics. While many approaches have been taken, one approach to solving this trade-off has been to equip or propose that agents possess an intrinsic 'exploratory drive' which is often implemented in te...
Preprint
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The Kalman filter is a fundamental filtering algorithm that fuses noisy sensory data, a previous state estimate, and a dynamics model to produce a principled estimate of the current state. It assumes, and is optimal for, linear models and white Gaussian noise. Due to its relative simplicity and general effectiveness, the Kalman filter is widely use...
Preprint
Full-text available
The adaptive regulation of bodily and interoceptive parameters, such as body temperature, thirst and hunger is a central problem for any biological organism. Here, we present a series of simulations using the framework of Active Inference to formally characterize interoceptive control and some of its dysfunctions. We start from the premise that the...
Article
Full-text available
The expected free energy (EFE) is a central quantity in the theory of active inference. It is the quantity that all active inference agents are mandated to minimize through action, and its decomposition into extrinsic and intrinsic value terms is key to the balance of exploration and exploitation that active inference agents evince. Despite its imp...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this paper is to leverage the free-energy principle and its corollary process theory, active inference, to develop a generic, generalizable model of the representational capacities of living creatures; that is, a theory of phenotypic representation. Given their ubiquity, we are concerned with distributed forms of representation (e.g., po...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this paper, we introduce an active inference model of ant colony foraging behavior and implement the model in a series of in silico experiments. Active inference is a multiscale approach to behavioral modeling that is gaining purchase in theoretical biology and ethology. We simulate a well-known paradigm from laboratory ant colony behavioral exp...
Chapter
Active Inference (AIF) is an emerging framework in the brain sciences which suggests that biological agents act to minimise a variational bound on model evidence. Control-as-Inference (CAI) is a framework within reinforcement learning which casts decision making as a variational inference problem. While these frameworks both consider action selecti...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper presents an active inference based simulation study of visual foraging and transfer learning. The goal of the simulation is to show the effect of the acquisition of culturally patterned attention styles on cognitive task performance, under active inference. We show how cultural artifacts like antique vase decorations drive cognitive func...
Preprint
The recently proposed Activation Relaxation (AR) algorithm provides a simple and robust approach for approximating the backpropagation of error algorithm using only local learning rules. Unlike competing schemes, it converges to the exact backpropagation gradients, and utilises only a single type of computational unit and a single backwards relaxat...
Preprint
Predictive coding is an influential theory of cortical function which posits that the principal computation the brain performs, which underlies both perception and learning, is the minimization of prediction errors. While motivated by high-level notions of variational inference, detailed neurophysiological models of cortical microcircuits which can...
Preprint
Can the powerful backpropagation of error (backprop) reinforcement learning algorithm be formulated in a manner suitable for implementation in neural circuitry? The primary challenge is to ensure that any candidate formulation uses only local information, rather than relying on global (error) signals, as in orthodox backprop. Recently several algor...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper presents an active inference based simulation study of visual foraging and transfer learning. The goal of the simulation is to show the effect of the acquisition of culturally patterned attention styles on cognitive task performance, under active inference. We show how cultural artifacts like antique vase decorations drive cognitive func...
Preprint
The field of reinforcement learning can be split into model-based and model-free methods. Here, we unify these approaches by casting model-free policy optimisation as amortised variational inference, and model-based planning as iterative variational inference, within a `control as hybrid inference' (CHI) framework. We present an implementation of C...
Preprint
Active Inference (AIF) is an emerging framework in the brain sciences which suggests that biological agents act to minimise a variational bound on model evidence. Control-as-Inference (CAI) is a framework within reinforcement learning which casts decision making as a variational inference problem. While these frameworks both consider action selecti...
Preprint
There are several ways to categorise reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms, such as either model-based or model-free, policy-based or planning-based, on-policy or off-policy, and online or offline. Broad classification schemes such as these help provide a unified perspective on disparate techniques and can contextualise and guide the development o...
Preprint
Backpropagation of error (backprop) is a powerful algorithm for training machine learning architectures through end-to-end differentiation. However, backprop is often criticised for lacking biological plausibility. Recently, it has been shown that backprop in multilayer-perceptrons (MLPs) can be approximated using predictive coding, a biologically-...
Preprint
This short letter is a response to a recent Forum article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, by Sun and Firestone, which reprises the so-called 'Dark Room Problem' as a challenge to the explanatory value of predictive processing and free-energy-minimisation frameworks for cognitive science. Among many possible responses to Sun and Firestone, we expla...
Article
Full-text available
Converging theories suggest that organisms learn and exploit probabilistic models of their environment. However, it remains unclear how such models can be learned in practice. The open-ended complexity of natural environments means that it is generally infeasible for organisms to model their environment comprehensively. Alternatively, action-orient...
Preprint
The Expected Free Energy (EFE) is a central quantity in the theory of active inference. It is the quantity that all active inference agents are mandated to minimize through action, and its decomposition into extrinsic and intrinsic value terms is key to the balance of exploration and exploitation that active inference agents evince. Despite its imp...
Preprint
Full-text available
The central tenet of reinforcement learning (RL) is that agents seek to maximize the sum of cumulative rewards. In contrast, active inference, an emerging framework within cognitive and computational neuroscience, proposes that agents act to maximize the evidence for a biased generative model. Here, we illustrate how ideas from active inference can...
Preprint
In reinforcement learning (RL), agents often operate in partially observed and uncertain environments. Model-based RL suggests that this is best achieved by learning and exploiting a probabilistic model of the world. 'Active inference' is an emerging normative framework in cognitive and computational neuroscience that offers a unifying account of h...
Preprint
Full-text available
Converging theories suggest that organisms learn and exploit probabilistic models of their environment. However, it remains unclear how such models can be learned in practice. The open-ended complexity of natural environments means that it is generally infeasible for organisms to model their environment comprehensively. Alternatively, action-orient...

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