Information Theoretic Incentives for Artificial Life
Satellite Workshop of the
14th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALife 2014)
SUNY Global Center, New York, 30th of July
Artificial Life aims to understand the basic and generic principles of life, and demonstrate this understanding by producing life-like systems based on those principles. In recent years, with the advent of the information age, and the widespread acceptance of information technology, our view of life has changed. Ideas such as "life is information processing" or "information holds the key to understanding life" have become more common. But what can information, or more formally Information Theory, offer to Artificial Life?

One relevant area is the motivation of behaviour for artificial agents, both virtual and real. Instead of learning to perform a specific task, informational measures can be used to define concepts such as boredom, empowerment or the ability to predict one's own future. Intrinsic motivations derived from these concepts allow us to generate behaviour, ideally from an embodied and enactive perspective, which are based on basic but generic principles. The key questions here are: "What are the important intrinsic motivations a living agent has, and what behaviour can be produced by them?"

Related to an agent's behaviour is also the question on how and where the necessary computation to realise this behaviour is performed. Can information be used to quantify the morphological computation of an embodied agent and to what degree are the computational limitations of an agent influencing its behaviour?

Another area of interest is the guidance of artificial evolution or adaptation. Assuming it is true that an agent wants to optimise its information processing, possibly obtain as much relevant information as possible for the cheapest computational cost, then what behaviour would naturally follow from that? Can the development of social interaction or collective phenomena be motivated by an informational gradient? Furthermore, evolution itself can be seen as a process in which an agent population obtains information from the environment, which begs the question of how this can be quantified, and how systems would adapt to maximise this information?

The common theme in those different scenarios is the identification and quantification of driving forces behind evolution, learning, behaviour and other crucial processes of life, in the hope that the implementation or optimisation of these measurements will allow us to construct life-like systems.

Tentative program

13:00 - 13:05 Christoph Salge Opening and introduction
13:05 - 13:55 Chis Adami Keynote "Information-theoretic musings concerning the origin and evolution of life"
13:55 - 14:20 Simon D. Levy "Wittgenstein's Robot: Philosophy, Information, and Artificial Life"
14:20 - 14:35 Coffee break
14:35 - 15:00 Claudius Gros "The Fisher information as a guiding principle for self-organizing processes"
15:00 - 15:20 Georg Martius "Predictive information as a drive for self-organizing behavior."
15:20 - 15:35 Tobias Morville "The Homeostatic Logic of Reinforcement Learning"
15:35 - 16:00 Christoph Salge "Perspective of information theoretic inceptives"

The program and all abstract can be downloaded here as [pdf].

How to submit

If you want to participate in the workshop by giving a talk we would invite you to send us an email with

We are interested both in previous work related to the subject and current work, including preliminary results.

We are currently working on organizing a special issue related to this workshop.

Specifically for students we also offer the option to submit for a shorter student talk, to present some early results, and discuss their approach to the field. In this case, please submit a 1 - 2 page long extended abstract and indicate that you are interested in a student talk.

If there are any questions, or if you just want to indicate interest in submitting or attending, please feel free to mail us at .

Abstract submission deadline 12. May 2014
Notification of acceptance 23. May 2014
Early bird registration 13. June 2014
Workshop date 30. July 2014
Special issue deadline (see below) 28 February 2015

For more information on how to register, please visit the ALife 2014 homepage [here].

Special issue in Entropy

The open access journal Entropy sponsors this workshop by an open call, special issue on the topic of "Information Theoretic Incentives for Cognitive Systems"

More details will be announced to emails received via and over the alife and connectionists mailing lists.