Speaker: Olaf Witkowski (Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology)

Abstract: This talk will be given by Dr. Olaf Witkowski, a research scientist from the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo. Information’s substrate-independence and interoperability property makes possible symbolic representations such as the genetic code, base upon which life was able to develop, eventually leading to human societies’ complex cognitive capabilities, such as language, science, and technology. In this talk, Witkowski will argue cognition to be the informational software to life’s physical hardware. If life can be formulated computationally to be the search for sources of free energy in an environment in order to maintain its own existence, then cognition is better understood as finding efficient encodings and algorithms to make this search probable to succeed. Cognition then becomes the “abstract computation of life,” with the purpose to make the unlikely likely for the sake of survival. We will show that it can be quantified by well known as well as new computational tools at the intersection of artificial life, information theory, and machine learning.

Thursday, March 23, 12:30 p.m.
Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, West Building Seminar Room, 2nd floor
Host by the Program in Interdisciplinary Studies