The Umwelt of an Embodied Agent - A Measure-Theoretic Definition
Nihat Ay and Wolfgang Löhr
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Submission date: 28. Oct. 2015
published in: Theory in biosciences, 134 (2015) 3, p. 105-116
DOI number (of the published article): 10.1007/s12064-015-0217-3
Keywords and phrases: Umwelt, function-circle, sensorimotor loop, embodied agent, intrinsic perspective, external observer, σ-algebra
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We consider a general model of the sensorimotor loop of an agent interacting with the world. This formalises Uexküll's notion of a function-circle. Here, we assume a particular causal structure, mechanistically described in terms of Markov kernels. In this generality, we define two σ-algebras of events in the world that describe two respective perspectives: (1) the perspective of an external observer, (2) the intrinsic perspective of the agent. Not all aspects of the world, seen from the external perspective, are accessible to the agent. This is expressed by the fact that the second σ-algebra is a subalgebra of the first one. We propose the smaller one as formalisation of Uexküll's Umwelt concept. We show that, under continuity and compactness assumptions, the global dynamics of the world can be simplified without changing the internal process. This simplification can serve as a minimal world model that the system must have in order to be consistent with the internal process.