Hokkaido University
Center for Human Nature,
Artificial Intelligence,
and Neuroscience


第30回 CHAINセミナー Manuel Baltieri「Inference with and within a model」

日時 2023年2月17日(金)16:30-18:00
場所 【ハイブリッド】北海道大学人文・社会科学総合教育研究棟(W棟・4階)W409号室(登録不要)およびZoomによるオンライン配信(要登録)
言語 英語

2023年最初のCHAINセミナーは、 株式会社アラヤの研究員であるManuel Baltieri氏の講演です。

Baltieri氏には、ベイズ推論の概念を用いて、自由エネルギー原理とオートポイエーシス論を繋げようとする試み (Friston 2013)を批判的に論じた論文「The Emperor’s New Markov Blankets (Bruineberg et al., 2021)」についてお話いただきます。

主催:北海道大学 人間知・脳・AI研究教育センター(CHAIN)




Manuel Baltieri
Manuel Baltieri

Inference with and within a model


The free energy principle, an influential framework in computational neuroscience and theoretical neurobiology, starts from the assumption that living systems ensure adaptive exchanges with their environment by minimizing the objective function of variational free energy. Following this premise, it claims to deliver a promising integration of the life sciences. In recent work, Markov Blankets, one of the central constructs of the free energy principle, have been applied to resolve debates central to philosophy (such as demarcating the boundaries of the mind). The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we trace the development of Markov blankets starting from their standard application in Bayesian networks, via variational inference, to their use in the literature on active inference. We then identify a persistent confusion in the literature between the formal use of Markov blankets as an epistemic tool for Bayesian inference, and their novel metaphysical use in the free energy framework to demarcate the physical boundary between an agent and its environment. Consequently, we propose to distinguish between ‘Pearl blankets’ to refer to the original epistemic use of Markov blankets and ‘Friston blankets’ to refer to the new metaphysical construct. Second, we use this distinction to critically assess claims resting on the application of Markov blankets to philosophical problems. We suggest that this literature would do well in differentiating between two different research programs: ‘inference with a model’ and ‘inference within a model’. Only the latter is capable of doing metaphysical work with Markov blankets, but requires additional philosophical premises and cannot be justified by an appeal to the success of the mathematical framework alone.


Interdisciplinary researcher synthesizing common threads across artificial life, neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

Computational modeller turning abstract contexts into mathematical objects.

Proficient coder developing simulations of complex systems in artificial worlds, biology and cognitive science starting from mathematical models.