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Active Inference, Curiosity and Insight

Friston, KJ; Lin, M; Frith, CD; Pezzulo, G; Hobson, JA; Ondobaka, S; (2017) Active Inference, Curiosity and Insight. Neural Computation , 29 (10) pp. 2633-2683. 10.1162/neco_a_00999. Green open access

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Abstract

This article offers a formal account of curiosity and insight in terms of active (Bayesian) inference. It deals with the dual problem of inferring states of the world and learning its statistical structure. In contrast to current trends in machine learning (e.g., deep learning), we focus on how people attain insight and understanding using just a handful of observations, which are solicited through curious behavior. We use simulations of abstract rule learning and approximate Bayesian inference to show that minimizing (expected) variational free energy leads to active sampling of novel contingencies. This epistemic behavior closes explanatory gaps in generative models of the world, thereby reducing uncertainty and satisfying curiosity. We then move from epistemic learning to model selection or structure learning to show how abductive processes emerge when agents test plausible hypotheses about symmetries (i.e., invariances or rules) in their generative models. The ensuing Bayesian model reduction evinces mechanisms associated with sleep and has all the hallmarks of "aha" moments. This formulation moves toward a computational account of consciousness in the pre-Cartesian sense of sharable knowledge (i.e., con: "together"; scire: "to know").

Type: Article
Title: Active Inference, Curiosity and Insight
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1162/neco_a_00999
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1162/neco_a_00999
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1570070
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