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Concept Paper
Peer-Review Record

Science-Driven Societal Transformation, Part I: Worldview

Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176881
Reviewer 1: Karl Friston
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176881
Received: 5 August 2020 / Revised: 13 August 2020 / Accepted: 20 August 2020 / Published: 24 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

I enjoyed reading this comprehensive and nicely articulated thesis for understanding self-organisation in societies of individuals. I was impressed by the way in which you integrated – and covered – a lot of technical material in the life sciences (and physics). I think that you did an excellent job in bringing these things together – and motivating the convergence on active inference and self-evidencing. I have a few comments that might improve the presentation of this work. Perhaps you consider the following:

In the abstract, it might be worth spelling out the target of this (and the two subsequent) paper. It seems to me that the target is effectively epistemological. In other words, establishing a formal mechanics within which to model and understand self-organising societies of individuals. I assume that the subsequent two papers will look at the ways in which this mechanics or model can be used to forecast our development or, indeed, intervene on it.

Line 103, I would say: "…science driven (or more precisely evidence-based) process to be fit for purpose."

I liked the notion that "skeletons are model of gravity"

Line 608: ergodicity is sometimes a contentious issue in technical treatments. I would add:

"mathematically, its dynamics are ergodic, in the sense that characteristic states imply some kind of nonequilibrium steady-state (technically, these steady states constitute an attracting set in which the system in question is characteristically found)."

I liked "it can only poke at its world through action"

On line 637, I would make it clear that expected surprise is equal to uncertainty. For example:

"which considers the potential results of policies. Mathematically, expected surprise (a.k.a. expected self-information) is just uncertainty (a.k.a. entropy). This means that acting to minimise expected surprise is simply choosing those courses of action that resolve uncertainty."

Line 641: I would add a footnote about essential variables. For example:

"In active inference, essential variables can be read as latent or hidden states generating sensory samples. It is these hidden states that agents actively try to infer by reducing surprise or prediction errors."

Line 648, you could note: "indeed, surprise in one sense, is only defined in relation to violations of predictions."

Line 678: please delete "(Bayesian)". Bayesian surprise has a very particular meaning. In some fields it is in fact the epistemic value you refer to below. Just call it ‘surprise’.

In equation 2 and in the related discussion, you might replace “divergence” with "bound". You can then say (on line 687) because the bound is a measure of the divergence between two probability distributions it is always greater or equal to 0."

Note a KL divergence is not a measure of distance (the KL between A and B is not the same as between B and A).

Line 706. Make sure that you say: "an agent acts to minimise expected surprise."

Online 729, perhaps you need a footnote to explain prediction error:

"In certain schemes used for active inference (e.g., predictive coding) surprise is scored by prediction errors; namely, the mismatch between predicted and observed sensations."

I hope that these comments help should any revision be required.

Author Response

Thank you for your helpful and detailed comments. They have helped me improve the manuscript. Your comments below are in bold, and my responses are in normal type.

In the abstract, it might be worth spelling out the target of this (and the two subsequent) paper. It seems to me that the target is effectively epistemological. In other words, establishing a formal mechanics within which to model and understand self-organising societies of individuals. I assume that the subsequent two papers will look at the ways in which this mechanics or model can be used to forecast our development or, indeed, intervene on it.

Line 9: To point more clearly at development of an epistemological framework, I change:

More than a proposal, it offers a perspective and conceptual framework from which societal transformation might be approached and understood.”

to:

More than a proposal, it offers a perspective and conceptual framework from which societal transformation might be approached. As part of this, it advances a formal mechanics with which to model and understand self-organizing societies of individuals.”

 

Line 103, I would say: "…science driven (or more precisely evidence-based) process to be fit for purpose."

Line 103: The sentence has been changed to:

“The hypotheses underlying these questions are that new societal systems can be designed in a science-driven (evidence-based) process to be fit for purpose; ...”

 

Line 608: ergodicity is sometimes a contentious issue in technical treatments. I would add:

"mathematically, its dynamics are ergodic, in the sense that characteristic states imply some kind of nonequilibrium steady-state (technically, these steady states constitute an attracting set in which the system in question is characteristically found)."

Line 608: The revised sentence is:

“Mathematically, its dynamics are ergodic in the sense that characteristic states imply some kind of nonequilibrium steady-state (technically, an attracting set in which the system in question is characteristically found). “

 

On line 637, I would make it clear that expected surprise is equal to uncertainty. For example:

"which considers the potential results of policies. Mathematically, expected surprise (a.k.a. expected self-information) is just uncertainty (a.k.a. entropy). This means that acting to minimise expected surprise is simply choosing those courses of action that resolve uncertainty."

Line 637: The revised sentences read:

Because an agent exists in time, it more correctly minimizes expected (estimated long-term average) surprise, which considers the potential results of policies. Mathematically, expected surprise is just uncertainty (i.e., entropy). This means that acting to minimize expected surprise amounts to choosing courses of action that resolve uncertainty.

Not all surprises are equally important, however, and an agent must pay more attention to some and less to others.”

 

Note that self-evidencing is discussed later in line 679.

 

Line 641: I would add a footnote about essential variables. For example:

"In active inference, essential variables can be read as latent or hidden states generating sensory samples. It is these hidden states that agents actively try to infer by reducing surprise or prediction errors."

Line 643: A footnote now reads:

“In active inference, essential variables can be read as latent or hidden states generating sensory samples. It is these hidden states that agents actively try to infer by reducing surprise or prediction errors.”

 

Line 648, you could note: "indeed, surprise in one sense, is only defined in relation to violations of predictions."

Line 647: The revised sentence is:

“Making predictions and minimizing surprise (related to essential variables) are the agent's central activities. Indeed, surprise in one sense is only defined in relation to violations of predictions.”

 

Line 678: please delete "(Bayesian)". Bayesian surprise has a very particular meaning. In some fields it is in fact the epistemic value you refer to below. Just call it ‘surprise’.

Line 678: The text: “(Bayesian)” is deleted.

 

In equation 2 and in the related discussion, you might replace “divergence” with "bound". You can then say (on line 687) because the bound is a measure of the divergence between two probability distributions it is always greater or equal to 0. Note a KL divergence is not a measure of distance (the KL between A and B is not the same as between B and A).

Line 684: I’m uncomfortable calling free energy a function that is a bound on surprise and then using the term bound in the equation for free energy. Also, some readers will be aware of the term “KL divergence”. However, I do alter the paragraph following Equation 2 to:

“More accurately, free energy is a functional. The right hand side (surprise, divergence, complexity, accuracy) are functions that take functions\textemdash parameterized distributions, including approximate posterior beliefs\textemdash as arguments \cite{parr2019}. Divergence is a measure of difference between two probability distributions. In this case, it is the difference between the actual posterior distribution and a simpler approximation to it (called a variational approximation). Because divergence is always equal to or greater than zero, free energy is an upper bound on surprise; surprise cannot be larger than free energy. By minimizing free energy, the agent minimizes surprise.

 

Line 706. Make sure that you say: "an agent acts to minimise expected surprise."

Line 706: The revised sentence is:

As noted, an agent acts to minimize expected surprise, which can be understood as uncertainty.”

 

Online 729, perhaps you need a footnote to explain prediction error:

"In certain schemes used for active inference (e.g., predictive coding) surprise is scored by prediction errors; namely, the mismatch between predicted and observed sensations."

Line 730: A footnote after the first sentence in the paragraph reads:

“In certain schemes used for active inference (e.g., predictive coding) surprise is scored by prediction errors; namely, the mismatch between predicted and observed sensations.”

 

Reviewer 2 Report

This paper is the beginning of an ambitious Project which is much needed. I strongly support the premises: that failure to protect health and Environment is due to dysfunctional social systems. I also very much like the functional ordering starting from wordview and going through purpose, Fitness metrics and system design.

WHen talking about how the Power of wordview should not be underestimated, it is also useful to notice literature that pointed out how worldvew shae also the way we do science and what we consider good science (see for instance https://elifesciences.org/articles/44929?gclid=CjwKCAjw4MP5BRBtEiwASfwAL_8Hu_fGd3g99x7N6urrenJK2hS6kk6TsBAdkbqeCTUTSx3P-VK1ZRoCw-AQAvD_BwE)

I am skeptical to some of the presented views: for instance, that the worldview can be designed by only science. THis is true only if the Author adopts a view of science that includes values, meaning and Ethics. I support such a view of science, but it is unclear what the Author thinks about it.

Anyway, I think that in reviewing this type of paper it does not make sense to list all I do not fully agree  with. This is a view worth publishing, regardless of how much one reviewer agrees with it. 

Instead, I could give an advise about the format: although the language is very good and clear, the paper is very lengthy. And I don't find this length always necessary. I understand that the author wants to motivate his view to be convincing, but this has to be weighted against the risk of putting off many readers. I think that, if the author wants the message to get out there loud and clear, and spread quickly, he should think about revising the paper for conciseness. 

This should anway be taken just as an advice. I otherwise recommend the publication and wish good luck with this project of science-based societal renewal!

 

 

Author Response

Thank you for your helpful comments. They have helped me improve the manuscript. Your comments below are in bold, and my responses are in normal type.

 

When talking about how the Power of worldview should not be underestimated, it is also useful to notice literature that pointed out how worldview shae also the way we do science and what we consider good science (see for instance https://elifesciences.org/articles/44929?gclid=CjwKCAjw4MP5BRBtEiwASfwAL_8Hu_fGd3g99x7N6urrenJK2hS6kk6TsBAdkbqeCTUTSx3P-VK1ZRoCw-AQAvD_BwE)

Line 144: I added the following sentence: “They even shape the way we conduct science \cite{andersen2019}.”

 

I am skeptical to some of the presented views: for instance, that the worldview can be designed by only science. THis is true only if the Author adopts a view of science that includes values, meaning and Ethics. I support such a view of science, but it is unclear what the Author thinks about it.

I agree that other processes besides science shape worldview. Further, in Part II of the series I discuss a partnership between the science community and local communities in developing new systems (and thus also in influencing the worldview that new systems embody).

Line 147: I change the sentence:

The emerging scientific worldview will change us, fundamentally.”

to

Science is but one process that shapes worldview, yet the emerging scientific worldview will change us, fundamentally.”



Instead, I could give an advise about the format: although the language is very good and clear, the paper is very lengthy. And I don't find this length always necessary. I understand that the author wants to motivate his view to be convincing, but this has to be weighted against the risk of putting off many readers. I think that, if the author wants the message to get out there loud and clear, and spread quickly, he should think about revising the paper for conciseness.

The following responses are primarily a copy of some responses made for Reviewer #3.

An R&D program aimed at societal transformation would span A to Z nearly every topic of science. Thus I am trying to reach a wide scientific audience with this manuscript. This includes scientists with little to no background in cognitive science, complex systems science, or information theory.

Moreover, given the large potential interest in societal transformation (and the massive impact on civilization that societal transformation would imply), I assume that some readers of this manuscript will not be trained scientists, and might be only marginally aware of the characteristics of complex adaptive systems and relations to cognition. For this audience too, I try to provide a fairly comprehensive summary. In providing a comprehensive summary for diverse audiences, the text is lengthy.

To be more concise, I have reduced or shortened about half of the examples given in the text. The following changes were made:

 

Line 235: Deleted: “It allows us to see, for example, what a forest, amoeba, and financial system have in common, and to design and act accordingly.”

 

Line 284: Deleted: “, for example via genetic evolution, speciation, or ecosystem transitions”)

 

Line 289: Deleted: “, through environmental markers, and by associating memories with physical objects (which improves later recall)”

 

Line 349: The sentences:

“The very definition of a society as a group of individuals that coordinate behavior implies that a society is cognitive. For example, coordination implies that a society must anticipate the future, given a set of potential actions. It must make and evaluate plans.”

are shortened to:

“The very definition of a society as a group of individuals that coordinate behavior implies that a society is cognitive and that it anticipates its future, given a set of potential actions.”

 

Line 442: Deleted: “, over the Internet for example, and based on information transferred via satellites”

 

Line 470: Deleted: “Brain tissue, for example, is a highly organized aggregate of cooperating cells that displays a dynamic structure.“

Line 533: Deleted: “For example, a flock of birds might explore many neighborhoods in search of food. When it finds an area that shows potential, it might focus its attention in that location, exploiting local features to hone in on the best spot. Of course, even better feeding areas might exist beyond the neighborhoods that were explored. To find them, the flock would have to conduct more exploration.”

 

Line 590: The sentences:

“Typically, the analyst (a force outside the agent) must program the agent both with goals and a fitness function, the latter of which is used to evaluate trial policies. Moreover, the analyst must program the agent to balance exploitation with exploration, typically using a heuristic method \cite{sajid2020}. But a living organism must, to some degree, set goals, evaluate policies, and solve problems without being externally programmed to do so. For example, an infant must act and learn.”

are shortened to:

“As mentioned, the analyst (a force outside the agent) programs the agent with a reward function and rule to balance exploitation with exploration. Often these are ad hoc and heuristic \cite{sajid2020}. But a living organism must, to some degree, evaluate policies and solve problems without being externally programmed to do so.”

 

Line 622: Deleted: “For example, a person cannot know the mind of another person, but can take actions (e.g., asking questions, watching behaviors) that lead to information on which a better model, or understanding, of the other can be constructed.”

 

Line 731: The sentences:

Thus, for example, if an agent expects to see a dog in the yard and instead sees a horse, but is uncertain about the dog prediction, then the precision-weighted surprise of seeing a horse will be small. If instead the agent is sure about the dog prediction, the precision-weighted surprise of seeing a horse will be large. If its dark, and the precision of incoming data is low (i.e., the agent is unsure what it is looking at), precision-weighted surprise due to the presence of a horse or dog will be diminished, all else being equal.”

are shortened to:

“Thus, for example, if an agent expects to see a dog and instead sees a horse, the precision-weighted surprise of seeing a horse will be small if the prediction for dog was uncertain. The surprise would be higher if the prediction for dog was more certain.”

 

Line 762: The sentences:

“And so on down to the molecular and atomic levels \cite{ramstead2018}. Molecules vibrate, for example, and switch conformations (shapes) in response to environmental conditions. They act (reflexively) to reduce stress, and have memory. Some molecular species can even be said to self-replicate and evolve over time, and to engage in metabolism and cooperation \cite{schuster2016,ma2012,levin2017,liu2020c,monrealsantiago2020}.”

are shortened to:

“And so on down to the molecular and atomic levels \cite{ramstead2018,schuster2016,ma2012,levin2017,liu2020c,monrealsantiago2020 }.”

 

Line 811: Deleted: “An individual cannot easily travel long distances (e.g., from New York to London) without help from past and current generations, for example. One affordance of the human niche is extensive travel.”

 

Reviewer 3 Report

The paper tackles very interesting topics of sociatal transformation and complex systems in the context of sustainability and biodiversity. I must honestly state I had high expectations after reading the abstract. Unfortunately, the paper does not live up to the abstract promises. I know that society is a complex adaptive system and there is a need for a transformation given the state of natural environment, but I hoped that I will learn from this article:

  1. Which parts/links/mechanisms in the current system malfunction?
  2. What needs to be done?

I am aware that this paper is part of a series, but this part was supposed to show the worldview and I do not see it in this article. Does it come down only to a statement that society is a complex adaptive system and it must be seen as one? Ok, for me it is nothing new, but probably not all of the readers are familiar with this concept but I still would like to get the answer to the first of my questions.

Personally, I think that the author exaggerated with the number of examples not taking into account that it is scientific publication so the readers represent a higher level of knowledge than the general public.

Author Response

Thank you for your comments. They have helped me to improve the manuscript. Your comments below and in bold, and my responses are in normal type.

 

The paper tackles very interesting topics of sociatal transformation and complex systems in the context of sustainability and biodiversity. I must honestly state I had high expectations after reading the abstract. Unfortunately, the paper does not live up to the abstract promises. I know that society is a complex adaptive system and there is a need for a transformation given the state of natural environment, but I hoped that I will learn from this article:

  1. Which parts/links/mechanisms in the current system malfunction?

  2. What needs to be done?

I am aware that this paper is part of a series, but this part was supposed to show the worldview and I do not see it in this article. Does it come down only to a statement that society is a complex adaptive system and it must be seen as one? Ok, for me it is nothing new, but probably not all of the readers are familiar with this concept but I still would like to get the answer to the first of my questions.

Personally, I think that the author exaggerated with the number of examples not taking into account that it is scientific publication so the readers represent a higher level of knowledge than the general public.

 

It appears that the reviewer is associating the term worldview with the identification of malfunctioning system components and prescriptions for fixing or replacing them. In contrast, I am using the term to describe an epistemological foundation that serves as the basis for approaching, even conceiving of, societal transformation cast as systems change. In particular, I am using the worldview described in this paper to address two critical and related sets of questions:

  1. How might we assess that one system is more fit than another? That is, what does fitness mean? What is a fit system supposed to do? What is its purpose?

  2. I describe society as an intelligent, cognitive organism. What is its purpose, how does it evaluate its status, and by what criteria does it make decisions?

The answers to these questions have deep ramifications for the design, operation, and evaluation of new systems. In particular, should a society evaluate its systems and actions by a predefined, likely ad hoc, set of equations and criteria (perhaps involving income, water quality, education levels, etc.). Or should it do so in a more principled way?

I have altered the manuscript in several locations to better describe the purpose of the paper and worldview.

 

Line 9: To point more clearly at development of an epistemological framework, I change the sentence:

More than a proposal, it offers a perspective and conceptual framework from which societal transformation might be approached and understood.”

to:

More than a proposal, it offers a perspective and conceptual framework from which societal transformation might be approached. As part of this, it advances a formal mechanics with which to model and understand self-organizing societies of individuals.”

 

Line 15. I add the following as a last sentence in the abstract: “Subsequent papers in the series build on the worldview to address fitness metrics, system design, and other topics.”

This change reinforces what is already stated in the article, line 108: “Subsequent papers in the series use the worldview in discussing fitness metrics, system design principles, and a strategy for change.”

 

Line 139. I change the sentences:

This goes beyond what might be called an ecocentric (environmentalism) worldview and its extensions [21,22]. The new worldview emphasizes the cognitive and information processing characteristics of nested human societies and entwined ecologies, as well as the role of flexible self-identity in human cognition.”

to:

This goes beyond what might be called an ecocentric (environmentalism) worldview and its extensions [21,22], and beyond some common conceptions of complex adaptive systems. The new worldview emphasizes the cognitive and information processing characteristics of complex adaptive systems, including nested human societies and entwined ecologies, as well as the role of flexible self-identity in human and group cognition. Further, it emphasizes the role of cognition and uncertainty in system evolution and self-organization.

 

Regarding this change, some of the ideas pointed to in the manuscript about cognition, flexible self-identity, information processing, uncertainty, and the self-organization of complex systems are either recent or sparsely distributed in the scientific literature. Thus, a scientist who has an understanding of complex adaptive systems might not be aware of or emphasize the same combination of characteristics that I focus on here.

For example, a seminal paper on use of information theory to answer the question “What is an individual?” was published only in 2020 (Krakauer et al., cited in manuscript). Questions like this have obvious importance to the study of societies. Papers on active inference, an approach to cognition that incorporates many of the ideas discussed in the worldview, were mostly published in the last 10 years. However, most readers of these papers were likely specialists.

An R&D program aimed at societal transformation would span A to Z nearly every topic of science. Thus I am trying to reach a wide scientific audience with this manuscript. This includes scientists with little to no background in cognitive science, complex systems science, or information theory.

Moreover, given the large potential interest in societal transformation (and the massive impact on civilization that societal transformation would imply), I assume that some readers of this manuscript will not be trained scientists, and might be only marginally aware of the characteristics of complex adaptive systems and relations to cognition. For this audience too, I try to provide a fairly comprehensive summary.

 

Line 225. To better motivate the reader’s interest in the worldview, and to better summarize one of its main points, I add the following:

 

------

To motivate interest, it might help to summarize in advance just one aspect that could have direct impact on the design, evaluation, and operation of new systems. As will be described, a society can be viewed as an intelligent agent. This agent is called upon (by life) to make decisions in its environment, even to organize or reorganize itself and its environment, so that it performs well.

But what does "perform well" mean? Questions like this often arise in the field of artificial intelligence. Usually, a researcher designs an agent to achieve a specific goal. Perhaps the goal is to win at chess or find the shortest path through a complicated maze. The typical way this is done today is through reinforcement learning.

The researcher programs the agent with a reward function so it can evaluate the results of its actions. Falling through a trap door might generate -10 points, for example, and capturing a queen might generate +10. The task of the agent is to try out actions until it learns a set that maximizes aggregate reward. In addition, the researcher programs the agent with a rule to balance exploration with exploitation (i.e., whether to refine an existing set of solutions or to explore wholly new and perhaps better ones).

Usually, both the reward function and rule for balancing exploration with exploitation are ad hoc, specific to the researcher's interests and the conditions the researcher expects the agent might encounter. The problems with ad hoc approaches are well-understood. What happens if the agent encounters conditions that the researcher did not foresee? What if the agent needs to alter its approach on the fly to address new questions or problems? What if the goal is complex enough that the researcher can't devise a suitable reward function at the onset?

The challenges with ad hoc solutions in artificial intelligence are pertinent to our situation. An intelligent society must make decisions with limited knowledge and resources, under uncertainty, and often faced with new and shifting conditions. By what set of reward functions can an intelligent society evaluate its actions, or the designs of its systems? By what set of rules can it balance exploration with exploitation?

In short, how can a society know if it is performing well or poorly? And how can it know if one system design is better than another? What kinds of information would be needed to make these decisions? Questions like these are addressed in the worldview, albeit at a high level.

A normative approach to human cognition and artificial intelligence is described that offers a principled basis for evaluating actions. That approach, active inference, also naturally balances exploration with exploitation. And it naturally accounts for curiosity and self-organization. As such, it has major advantages over ad hoc approaches. As we will see, an active-inference agent favors actions that reduce its expected uncertainty, especially uncertainty about whether it will experience the conditions under which it thrives.

Active inference concepts can be applied in numerous ways to the design, operation, and evaluation of new societal systems. As just one example, a wide set of metrics could be developed to assess how a design impacts expected uncertainty, including a society’s capacity to accurately forecast conditions and uncertainty. More fundamentally, a society can understand its systems as an uncertainty reducing, cognitive apparatus. Implications for cooperation follow.

------

Regarding the number of examples, I have deleted or shortened about half of them. The following changes were made:

 

Line 235: Deleted: “It allows us to see, for example, what a forest, amoeba, and financial system have in common, and to design and act accordingly.”

 

Line 284: Deleted: “, for example via genetic evolution, speciation, or ecosystem transitions”)

 

Line 289: Deleted: “, through environmental markers, and by associating memories with physical objects (which improves later recall)”

 

Line 349: The sentences:

“The very definition of a society as a group of individuals that coordinate behavior implies that a society is cognitive. For example, coordination implies that a society must anticipate the future, given a set of potential actions. It must make and evaluate plans.”

are shortened to:

“The very definition of a society as a group of individuals that coordinate behavior implies that a society is cognitive and that it anticipates its future, given a set of potential actions.”

 

Line 442: Deleted: “, over the Internet for example, and based on information transferred via satellites”

 

Line 470: Deleted: “Brain tissue, for example, is a highly organized aggregate of cooperating cells that displays a dynamic structure.“

 

Line 533: Deleted: “For example, a flock of birds might explore many neighborhoods in search of food. When it finds an area that shows potential, it might focus its attention in that location, exploiting local features to hone in on the best spot. Of course, even better feeding areas might exist beyond the neighborhoods that were explored. To find them, the flock would have to conduct more exploration.”

 

Line 590: The sentences:

“Typically, the analyst (a force outside the agent) must program the agent both with goals and a fitness function, the latter of which is used to evaluate trial policies. Moreover, the analyst must program the agent to balance exploitation with exploration, typically using a heuristic method \cite{sajid2020}. But a living organism must, to some degree, set goals, evaluate policies, and solve problems without being externally programmed to do so. For example, an infant must act and learn.”

are shortened to:

“As mentioned, the analyst (a force outside the agent) programs the agent with a reward function and rule to balance exploitation with exploration. Often these are ad hoc and heuristic \cite{sajid2020}. But a living organism must, to some degree, evaluate policies and solve problems without being externally programmed to do so.”

 

Line 622: Deleted: “For example, a person cannot know the mind of another person, but can take actions (e.g., asking questions, watching behaviors) that lead to information on which a better model, or understanding, of the other can be constructed.”

 

Line 731: The sentences:

Thus, for example, if an agent expects to see a dog in the yard and instead sees a horse, but is uncertain about the dog prediction, then the precision-weighted surprise of seeing a horse will be small. If instead the agent is sure about the dog prediction, the precision-weighted surprise of seeing a horse will be large. If its dark, and the precision of incoming data is low (i.e., the agent is unsure what it is looking at), precision-weighted surprise due to the presence of a horse or dog will be diminished, all else being equal.”

are shortened to:

“Thus, for example, if an agent expects to see a dog and instead sees a horse, the precision-weighted surprise of seeing a horse will be small if the prediction for dog was uncertain. The surprise would be higher if the prediction for dog was more certain.”

 

Line 762: The sentences:

“And so on down to the molecular and atomic levels \cite{ramstead2018}. Molecules vibrate, for example, and switch conformations (shapes) in response to environmental conditions. They act (reflexively) to reduce stress, and have memory. Some molecular species can even be said to self-replicate and evolve over time, and to engage in metabolism and cooperation \cite{schuster2016,ma2012,levin2017,liu2020c,monrealsantiago2020}.”

are shortened to:

“And so on down to the molecular and atomic levels \cite{ramstead2018,schuster2016,ma2012,levin2017,liu2020c,monrealsantiago2020 }.”

 

Line 811: Deleted: “An individual cannot easily travel long distances (e.g., from New York to London) without help from past and current generations, for example. One affordance of the human niche is extensive travel.”

Round 2

Reviewer 3 Report

The article has been improved significantly.

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