An active inference implementation of phototaxis

Conference Date
Lyon, France
Date Published
September 2017
Conference Date: 2017, Vol. 14, Pages 36-43.
(doi: 10.7551/ecal_a_011)
© 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license
Article PDF (985.87 KB)

Active inference is emerging as a possible unifying theory of perception and action in cognitive and computational neuroscience. On this theory, perception is a process of inferring the causes of sensory data by minimising the error between actual sensations and those predicted by an inner generative (probabilistic) model. Action on the other hand is drawn as a process that modifies the world such that the consequent sensory input meets expectations encoded in the same internal model. These two processes, inferring properties of the world and inferring actions needed to meet expectations, close the sensory/motor loop and suggest a deep symmetry between action and perception. In this work we present a simple agent-based model inspired by this new theory that offers insights on some of its central ideas. Previous implementations of active inference have typically examined a “perceptionoriented” view of this theory, assuming that agents are endowed with a detailed generative model of their surrounding environment. In contrast, we present an “action-oriented” solution showing how adaptive behaviour can emerge even when agents operate with a simple model which bears little resemblance to their environment. We examine how various parameters of this formulation allow phototaxis and present an example of a different, “pathological” behaviour.