University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

Apparent actions and apparent goal-directedness

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
Event13th European Conf on Artificial Life (ECAL 2015) - York, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jul 201524 Jul 2015


Conference13th European Conf on Artificial Life (ECAL 2015)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


In human history countless phenomena have
been (wrongly) attributed to agents. For instance, now science
believes there are no gods (agents) of lightning, thunder
and wind behind the associated phenomena.
In physics (assuming quantum decoherence) the universe
is modelled as a state space with a dynamical law that determines
everything that happens within it. This however, is
incompatible with most notions of agency (cf. Barandiaran
et al., 2009) which require actions: For an agent candidate
to have actions it must be able to “make something happen”
as opposed to only “have things happen to it”.
Here we ask which single sequences of partial observations
may appear to contain agency to a passive observer
who has its own memory. For this we define measures
of apparent actions and apparent goal-directedness.
Goal-directedness is another feature commonly attributed to
agents. We here ignore whatever causes the appearances and
the concept of individuality of agents.


Daniel Polani, Martin Biehl, ‘Apparent actions and apparent goal-directedness’, paper presented at the 13th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2015), York, UK, 20-24 July, 2015.

ID: 8615107