Living systems: chaotic, stochastic, and/or indeterministic?

Instead of the usual group seminar tomorrow at IIMAS there will be a seminar at the C3. Everyone is welcome!

Dr. Tom Froese

I was invited to lead the discussion in a session of the Seminar of Science and Society at the Centre for the Sciences of Complexity. I will focus on the relationship between autonomy and uncertainty. Details can be found in the flyer below:

C3 seminar

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Life is precious because it is precarious

This paper could be of interest to members of our group…

Dr. Tom Froese

I was invited to contribute a chapter to the book Representation and Reality in Humans, Animals and Machines edited by Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic and Raffaela Giovagnoli to be published by Springer.

Life is precious because it is precarious: Individuality, mortality, and the problem of meaning

Tom Froese

Computationalism aspires to provide a comprehensive theory of life and mind. It fails in this task because it lacks the conceptual tools to address the problem of meaning. I argue that a meaningful perspective is enacted by an individual with a potential that is intrinsic to biological existence: death. Life matters to such an individual because it must constantly create the conditions of its own existence, which is unique and irreplaceable. For that individual to actively adapt, rather than to passively disintegrate, expresses a value inherent in its way of life, which is the ultimate source of more refined forms of normativity. This response…

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CFP: ECAL 2017


“Artificial Life and the scientific method: Create, play, experiment, discover”

The ECAL 2017 Organizing Committee would like to cordially invite you to submit your work to the 14th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2017), taking place on the LyonTech Campus in Lyon, France, 4-8 September 2017.

*  I M P O R T A N T   D A T E S  *

Paper submission deadline:  9th April, 2017
Notification of Acceptance:  12th May, 2017
Camera-Ready due:                 9th June, 2017
Main Conference convenes:  4-8 September, 2017

Contact email for queries:



2017 IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life

as part of

2017 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (IEEE SSCI 2017)
Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii
Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 2017

Call for papers

Artificial Life is the study of the simulation and synthesis of living systems. In particular, this science of generalized living and life-like systems provides engineering with billions of years of design expertise to learn from and exploit through the example of the evolution of organic life on earth. Increased understanding of the massively successful design diversity, complexity, and adaptability of life is rapidly making inroads into all areas of engineering and the Sciences of the Artificial. Numerous applications of ideas from nature and their generalizations from life-as-we-know-it to life-as-it-could-be continually find their way into engineering and science.

IEEE ALIFE 2017 brings together researchers working on the emerging areas of Artificial Life and Complex Adaptive Systems, aiming to understand and synthesize life-like systems and applying bio-inspired synthetic methods to other science/engineering disciplines, including Biology, Robotics, Social Sciences, among others.

CFP: LangEnact II


25 September – 27 September 2017

Call deadline: 28 April 2017

By Stephen J. Cowley, University of Southern Denmark ( 

The Centre for Human Interactivity invites you to contribute to LangEnact II, Meaning Without Representation: Grounding Language in Sensorimotor Coordination to take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 25-27 September, 2017 at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Radical embodied approaches to language offer an alternative to neurocentric alternatives. They are inspired, on the one hand, by Wittgenstein’s focus on communities and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the body. On the other, they build on how Hutchins and Kirsh opened the way to studying cognition beyond the brain. Accordingly, meaning – and, in human forms of life, language – are taken to derive from what Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana call the enactment of a world and a mind:

“(…) cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs” (Varela, Thompson, Rosch, The Embodied Mind, MIT Press, p. 9).

Until recently, those rejecting computational views have tended to neglect language. In putting this to rights, we address “meaning without representation” by asking how language can be, on the one hand, an effective means of interpersonal coordination and, on the other, grounded in individual bodies that bring forth an encultured and lived world. The conference places this question at the confluence of two traditions: while enactive linguistics makes embodiment central to rethinking French theories of ‘enunciation’ and the nature of langues (language-systems), the distributed-ecological perspective builds on cognitive science by tracing language, not to verbal patterns, but to how people coordinate bodily movement as they make their way in a (partly) common world.  (more…)

Another Master’s thesis published

The second thesis of our group has been published. Please find the title and summary below.

Minimización de la red neuronal artificial de agentes encarnados evolucionados para comunicarse referencialmente

Jorge Iván Campos Bravo

En este proyecto realizamos una minimización de la red neuronal del modelo generado por Williams et al. (2008), en dicho modelose implementan dos agentes en un ambiente mínimoen el que pueden interactuar entre ellos, pero no poseen canales especializados para comunicarse.

Su tarea es sencilla, el transmisor necesita informar al receptor la posición de un objetivo en el ambiente y el receptor necesita llegar a la posición del objetivo.

En nuestro modelo, ambos agentes utilizan la misma copia estructural de red neuronal recurrente en tiempo continuo para controlar su sistema sensorio-motor; dicha red neuronal artificial consta de tres neuronas para ambos agentes.

Se realizaron modificaciones al sistema sensorio-motor y al ambiente original para adaptar el nuevo sistema neuronal, sin perder la esencia de la motivación principal, generar comunicación referencial entre los agentes.

Master’s thesis published

The first thesis of our group has been published. Please find the title and summary below.

Un modelo de robótica evolutiva para el reconocimiento explícito de agencialidad

Leticia Cruz Bárcenas

El estudio de la cognición social ha sido abordado principalmente desde dos perspectivas. Por un lado tenemos, el punto de vista del individualismo ampliamente usado en la cognición social, donde se plantea que la interacción y cognición social es el resultado de capacidades cognitivas individuales. Por otro lado, tenemos la perspectiva interaccionista enfocada en que el comportamiento resultante de dos o más individuos reside en los mecanismos colectivos de la interacción dinámica. A pesar de la existencia de estos enfoques, el estudio del rol en la interacción social no ha sido prioritario en las investigaciones de cognición social. Algunas de las dificultades enfrentadas en este sentido están relacionadas con la identificación de características cualitativas y cuantitativas esenciales durante el fenómeno (Lenay & Stewart, 2012).

Con el fin de tener de mejores herramientas analíticas, Auvray et al. (2009) propuso un modelo minino de cognición social que reduce este fenómeno a sus elementos más básicos. Haciendo uso de este modelo se realizó un experimento cuyo objetivo era identificar los mecanismos subyacentes debido al reconocimiento de un sujeto con intencionalidad. Los resultados mostraron que el comportamiento de los individuos propiciaba la interacción con el otro, así como la discriminación del resto de los objetos del ambiente debido a los movimientos oscilatorios individuales.

Con el fin de continuar esta línea de investigación, el presente trabajo muestra un modelo sintético que simula los resultados obtenidos en el experimento original. Utilizando robótica evolutiva se implementó un modelo para investigar la dinámica de interacción en el reconocimiento explícito de agencialidad entre agentes artificiales. El modelo demostró que existe se preserva una interacción cuando los agentes están interactuando entre ellos a pesar de que existan otros objetos/obstáculos en el ambiente.

CFP: Embodied Aesthetics

Dear friends, dear colleagues,

You are cordially invited to submit a paper for either oral or poster presentation to the upcoming conference:

19th Herbstakademie: “Embodied Aesthetics: Resonance in Perception, Expression and Therapy”

Embodied Aesthetics is part of the series of Herbstakademie meetings dedicated to the topic of complex systems in psychology, neuroscience and related disciplines. Please submit (before June 9) and/or register using this website:

The conference will take place in autumn this year (October 5 – 7, 2017) in Heidelberg, Germany. It will address theoretical and applied questions of embodiment:

– What is the role of the body in feeling and thinking, particularly concerning the experience of beauty? We bodily resonate with aesthetic experiences when we appreciate art and unexpected insights. In art-making, we thrive and experience agency and self-congruence. How can an embodied aesthetics be conceptualized?
– Which novel perspectives can the embodiment approach offer to creative arts therapies, psychotherapy, and artistic expression?
– How can clinicians and psychotherapists incorporate embodiment, such as nonverbal synchrony, into their work?
– What role does the experience and embodiment of beauty play for health?

Confirmed keynotes by:

Claus-Christian Carbon, Experimental Psychology, Aesthetics, Universität Bamberg
Vittorio Gallese, Cognitive Neuroscience, Universita’ di Parma
Hermann Haken, Synergetics and Systems Theory, Universität Stuttgart
Sander Koole, Synchrony, Social Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Winfried Menninghaus, Empirical Aesthetics, Max-Planck-Institut Frankfurt
Hartmut Rosa, Resonance, Sociology, Universität Jena
Andrea Schiavio, Music Psychology, University of Sheffield, Bogazici University

You may attend one of the three pre-conference workshops on October 4:

Johannes Michalak “Embodiment in mindfulness-based interventions”
Miriam Kyselo “Enacting the self – a bodily exploration of self with others”
Lily Martin & Birgitt Bodingbauer “Embodied aesthetics of flow – creating ‘optimal experiences’ through movement”

With kind regards
Wolfgang Tschacher, Sabine Koch, and Thomas Fuchs


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Tschacher
Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Universität Bern

Prof. Dr. Sabine Koch
Alanus University Alfter
SRH Hochschule Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Fuchs
Klinik für Allgemeine Psychiatrie
Universität Heidelberg

Seminar on enactivism and autopoiesis

This online seminar should be of interest to members of our group…
Dear ENSO Community,
It is my pleasure to kick off the 2017 year of ENSO Seminars with a talk by Mario Villalobos entitled Radical enactivism and autopoietic theory of cognition: Prospects for a full revolution in cognitive science. The abstract and other details of the talk can be found on the ENSO Seminar page for the event.
This will be the 13th Seminar in our series, taking place on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, 8 p.m. UTC. (You can have this time automagically translated into your local time by visiting the aforementioned ENSO Seminar page.)
If you are interested in participating in the live session, please send me an email before or during the event and I will respond by sending you a link that you can follow to participate. For this link to work, you will need to have the browser plugin for google hangouts.
After this talk has been delivered, we will have had talks from nine different countries: Ireland, USA, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Amsterdam, and Chile!
We are currently looking for volunteers for talks in March and later in the year. Please consider giving a talk — especially if you are hailing from a country that has not yet been represented!
I hope to see you there!
All the best,
Matthew & Marek

Spring school on enactive perception

The research centres CRESA and PERSONA of the Faculty of Philosophy at San Raffaele University, Milan, organize the International Conference and Spring School:

Perception and Aesthetic Experience: Starting from Noe’s Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature

San Raffaele Spring School of Philosophy 2017 (SRSSP 2017)

Milan, May 22nd – 24th, 2017

What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves?

In his book Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature (Hill and Wang, New York, 2015), the philosopher Alva Noë tries to answer these questions by proposing a philosophical theory that investigates the artistic practice and the aesthetic experience in relation to many other human activities. Noë’s main idea is that the artistic practice is a re-organizational practice by means of which we put on display and investigate several organizational activities of ours, such as dancing or making pictures. Investigating our practices, art investigates ourselves too.

“Works of art put our making practices and our tendency to rely on what we make, and so also our practices of thinking and talking and making pictures, on display. Art puts us on display. Art unveils us to ourselves” (Noë 2015, 101).

However, Strange Tools is not just a book on art and artistic practice. Indeed, dealing with these topics, the author addresses also some of the main topics of his previous production: the nature of perception and the enactive proposal, the nature of pictures and representations, the extended thesis about our minds and cognitive processes, the place of neurosciences in the study of the mind, and so on.

We invite submissions by graduate and PhD students, as well as Postdocs and Experienced Researchers, on any of the topics addressed by Alva Noë’s Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature, as well as on any related topics addressed by the author in his previous works. Submissions on aesthetics and perception from other perspectives (e.g. theories different from Noë’s one) are also very welcome.

Possible questions to investigate include (but are not limited to):

– What is perception? Can the enactive model be a good one to describe and explain how we perceive?

– Is the Extended Mind Thesis a tenable one? Should we think of a necessary limitation of such an extension?

– What is the nature of pictures and representations?

– What is art? How can we define the artistic practice and the works of art? Is Noë’s position on these topics embraceable?

– Can a neuro-aesthetic approach appropriately explain the aesthetic experience? In the negative case, should it be combined with other approaches or should it be completely rejected?

Keynote Speaker

Alva Noë (University of California, Berkeley)

Confirmed Invited Speakers

Clotilde Calabi (University of Milan)

Vittorio Gallese (University of Parma)

Bence Nanay (University of Antwerp)

Marco Tettamanti (San Raffaele Scientific Institute)

Alberto Voltolini (University of Turin)

More details and the call for papers