Poster presentations at the C3

On June 8 members if our group participated in an event at the Centre for the Sciences of Complexity (C3) called: “C3: Un Centro Transversal para la UNAM”.

We created a number of posters about our current work in progress:

EON Long-Term-Visitor Award

Another member of our group, Jorge Campos Bravo, is here with me to help implement the model.

Dr. Tom Froese

logoI have received an EON Long-Term-Visitor Award from the director of the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) of the Tokyo Institute of Technology to work for two months (June and July 2017) with Dr. Virgo and his colleagues of the ELSI Origins Network (EON).

The aim is to create an agent-based model of the origins of the genetic code based on the mechanism of horizontal gene transmission. The model is inspired by the iterated learning model of the evolution of language.

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CFP: Evolution of Cultural Complexity

This CFP might be interesting to members of our group. I was informed by the organizers that the deadline will be extended by at least one week.

We are pleased to announce a call for abstracts for our session on “Evolution of Cultural Complexity” at the annual “Conference on Complex System”. The Conference on Complex System will takes place this year in Cancun, Mexico, from the 17th to the 22nd of September. Our session will take pace on the 21st of September.

Human sociocultural evolution has been documented throughout the history of humans and earlier hominins. This evolution manifests itself through development from tools as simple as a rock used to break nuts, to something as complex as a spaceship able to land man on other planets. Equally, we have witnessed evolution of human population towards complex multilevel social organisation.

Although cases of decrease and loss of this type of complexity have been reported, in global terms it tends to increase with time. Despite its significance, the conditions and the factors driving this increase are still poorly understood and subject to debate. Different hypothesis trying to explain the rise of sociocultural complexity in human societies have been proposed (demographic factor, cognitive component, historical contingency…) but so far no consensus has been reached.

Here we raise a number of questions:

CFP: DFG Priority Programme “The Active Self”

Call for Proposals No. 24, 18 May 2017

Priority Programme „The Active Self“ (SPP 2134)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established a new Priority Programme entitled “The Active Self” (SPP 2134). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

The Priority Programme brings together cognitive and behavioural scientists from various disciplines, including psychology and robotics, to study the sensorimotor grounding of the human minimal self – a concept that relates to a person’s phenomenal experience in the here and now and to the question of how we perceive ourselves to be in a particular situation. While this experience is likely to be dominated by information delivered by the senses, i.e., by self-perception in a literal, immediate sense, humans also have knowledge about themselves, amassed over years, and a sense of understanding how their self relates to others.

The relatively recent increasing interest in the self is fueled by important methodological improvements, such as the availability of virtual-reality techniques and affordable robots with humanoid characteristics, and the development of noninvasive methods to study cognition in infants, but also by converging lines of theoretical thinking related to ideomotor processes on the one hand and embodied cognition on the other. The programme will seek to unravel the degree to which our self-representation is plastic and sensitive to immediate experience, to which degree it is constrained by past experience, how it integrates experiences of agency and action-ownership, how it affects other cognitive processes, and to what degree self-representation can be established in artificial agents.

CFP: 6th Int. Conf. on the Theory and Practice of Natural Computing


Prague, Czech Republic

December 18-20, 2017

Organized by:

Institute of Computer Science
Czech Academy of Sciences

Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
Charles University

Research Group on Mathematical Linguistics (GRLMC)
Rovira i Virgili University


TPNC is a conference series intending to cover the wide spectrum of computational principles, models and techniques inspired by information processing in nature. TPNC 2017 will reserve significant room for young scholars at the beginning of their career and particular focus will be put on methodology. The conference aims at attracting contributions to nature-inspired models of computation, synthesizing nature by means of computation, nature-inspired materials, and information processing in nature.


TPNC 2017 will take place in Prague, whose historic centre is UNESCO World Heritage Site and which is home to famous attractions like the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, etc. The venue will be:

Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
Charles University
Ke Karlovu 3
121 16 Praha 2


EON Workshop

Tom Froese and Jorge Campos Bravo will participate in the following workshop at the end of their stay Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo this summer.

EON Workshop: Sensors, Motors and Behaviour at the Origin of Life

EON will hold an international workshop at ELSI on July 26-28, 2017.

Organizers: Matthew Egbert 1  ,   Martin Hanczyc 2
Lecturer, University of Auckland, NZ                    
Principal Investigator, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Italy

Venue: ELSI Hall in ELSI-1 bldg., Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan.

Title: Sensors, Motors and Behaviour at the Origin of Life


More information can be found on the EON workshop website.

Special seminar: Neonatal imitation and direct social perception

During our weekly research seminar on May 24 we will have a special lecture by Dr. Stefano Vincini. The title and abstract follow below:

Neonatal Imitation and Direct Social Perception

Dr. Stefano Vincini
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas

Neonatal imitation has rich implications for neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social cognition, but there is little consensus about this phenomenon. The primary empirical question, whether or not neonatal imitation exists, is not settled. Is it possible to give a balanced evaluation of the theories and methodologies at stake so as to facilitate real progress with respect to the primary empirical question? In this paper, I address this question. I present the operational definition of neonatal imitation as differential imitation and discuss why it is important to keep it in mind. I also examine the principal explanations for the extant findings. In particular, I focus on the contrast between Meltzoff and Moore’s Active Intermodal Matching (AIM) model and the Association by Similarity Theory (AST), which interprets neonatal imitation as differential induction of behaviors that already tend to occur spontaneously. I argue that AST is preferable to AIM for empirical and theoretical reasons. With respect to methodology, I investigate what experimental design can best provide evidence for imitation, focusing on how differential induction may be maximized and detected. Finally, I discuss the significance of neonatal imitation for the field of social cognition. Specifically, I propose a link with theories of direct social perception. Overall, my goals are to help clarify the complex theoretical issues at stake and suggest fruitful guidelines for empirical research.

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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