My main interest is to study creative evolution in autopoietic (self-creative) systems, such as woodlice and human societies. I have discussed how such systems actively construct their statespace, ie the “natural” mathematical space representing their possible states, and why explaining that process necessitates a physical theory of how observation creates physical reality. I am now focusing on formulating what exactly such a theory would mean for science, both by articulating the onto-epistemic stance of participatory realism, and by formulating a constraints ontology for representing and explaining creative evolution.

I am especially interested in the implication of this research for the cognitive and social science, which I develop through the notion of social constraints. I understand social constraints to constitute shared expectations over typical behaviour, which (if the Active Inference model of cognition is warranted) canalise the activity of agents in the same sense that biological constraints do. This affords a two-fold view of the evolution of social systems: first, as the interaction between agents and a shared cultural landscape of affordances ; second, as the dynamic by which the web of social constraints underlying that landscape (re)create itself.


Unfolding landscapes of cultural affordances - Credit to Iona BRENAC

Current status


  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2024. “From the Existential Stance to Social Constraints - How the Human Mind Becomes Embedded in Our Social, Cultural and Material Context.” OSF.
  • White, Ben, Andy Clark, Avel Guenin-Carlut, Axel Constant, and Laura Desirée Di Paolo. 2024. “Extending Minds, Shifting Boundaries: Ambient Technological Environments as Extended Allostatic Control.” OSF.
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2024. “Contextuality, Cognitive Engagement, and Active Inference.” OSF.
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2024. “Is the Ecological Redirection Possible? An ALife Perspective on Sociocultural Evolution in the Anthropocene.” OSF Preprints.
  • Di Paolo, Laura Desirée, Ben White, Avel Guenin-Carlut, Axel Constant, and Andy Clark. 2024. “Active Inference Goes to School. The Importance of Active Learning in the Age of Large Language Models,” January.
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2020. “Cognition in eco, cognition in vitro - Mesure, explication, et contextualité en sciences cognitives.” OSF Preprints. (Republication with major modifications)
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel, and Mahault Albarracin. 2024. “On Embedded Normativity an Active Inference Account of Agency Beyond Flesh.” In Active Inference, 91–105. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland.
  • Guénin—Carlut, Avel. 2023. “Strange Things, Statespace Representation, and Participatory Realism - Comment on ‘Path Integrals, Particular Kinds, and Strange Things.’ by Friston et Al.” Physics of Life Reviews, October.
  • Institute, Active Inference, Ander Aguirre, John Boik, Libor Burian, Matthew Brown, RJ Cordes, Scott David, et al. 2023. “The Active Inference Institute and Active Inference Ecosystem,” August.
  • Guenin-Carlut, Avel, Ben White, and Lorena Sganzerla. 2023. “The Cognitive Archaeology of Sociocultural Lifeforms.” In ALIFE 2023: Ghost in the Machine: Proceedings of the 2023 Artificial Life Conference. MIT Press.
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2022. “Physics of Creation - Symmetry Breaking, (En)Active Inference, and Unfolding Statespaces.” OSF Preprints.
  • Friedman, Daniel et al. 2022. “An Active Inference Ontology for Decentralized Science: From Situated Sensemaking to the Epistemic Commons.” (March 7, 2022).
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2022. Cognitive Agency in Sociocultural Evolution.” (January 14, 2022).
  • Guénin—Carlut, Avel. 2022. “Thinking like a State : Embodied Intelligence in the Deep History of Our Collective Mind.” IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 1261 (1): 012026.
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2020. “Cognition in Eco & Cognition in Vitro - Measurement and explanation in cognitive science.” (October 31, 2020).
  • Guénin–Carlut, Avel. 2020. “Beyond State - Drafting a Prospective Anthropology.” (March 9, 2020).

Research talks

  • 2024 May 30 : “Cognitive Contextuality, Material Culture, and Participatory Realism”, Research conference, at the Cultural Embedding of Social Cognition - The predictive processing and Active Inference approach workshop organized by the Cultural Embedding of Social Cognition project.
  • 2024 May 30 : “Engaging with Active Inference - A conceptual tutorial for social and cognitive scientists”, with Iona BRENAC, Tutorial, at the Cultural Embedding of Social Cognition - The predictive processing and Active Inference approach workshop organized by the Cultural Embedding of Social Cognition project.
  • 2024 March 20 : “Embodiement, Contextuality, and Material Engagement”, Research conference, at the 2024 Embodied Intelligence conference.
  • 2023 October 20 : “Identity capture in the Unification Church - An Active Inference account of power”, Research conference, at the Societies in Historical and Comparative Perspective conference.
  • 2023 September 13 : “On Embedded Normativity - An Active Inference account of agency beyond flesh”, with Mahault ALBARRACIN, Research conference, at the 4th International Workshop on Active Inference.
  • 2023 August 22 : “On Embedded Normativity”, Research conference, in the 3rd Applied Active Inference Symposium.
  • 2023 July 28 : “The Cognitive Archeology of Sociocultural Lifeforms”, Poster presentation, in the ALife 2023 conference.
  • 2023 March 24 : “Embodied Normativity”, with Manon JOB and Mahault ALBARRACIN, Research conference, in the Embodied Intelligence Conference 2023.
  • 2023 March 16 : “Creating material and cultural landscapes - A constraints ontology for multiscale socio-historical dynamics”, Research conference, in the Kiel Conference 2023: Scales of Social, Environmental, and Cultural Change in Past Societies.
  • 2023 January 23 : “Physics of Creation - Can the Free Energy Principle ground the construction of physical statespaces ?”, Research conference, in the Active Inference Institute Livestream. Video
  • 2021 October 17 : “Intelligence without creativity - Can Active Inference ground our understanding of life, mind and society ?”, Research conference, in Cognitio 2021. Open access slides and video
  • 2021 October 16 : “Thinking like a State - Embodied intelligence in the deep history of our collective mind”, Research conference, with Virginia Bleu KNIGHT and Daniel FRIEDMAN, in Cognitio 2021.
  • 2021 June 29 : “Grounding collective intelligence as Active Inference”, Research conference, with Daniel FRIEDMAN, in ACM Collective Intelligence Conference 2021. Open access slides & video
  • 2021 June 10 : “Social morphogenesis as enactive agency”, Discussion panel, in Cultural Evolution Society Conference 2021. Open access slides & video
  • 2021 February 2 : “Cognition in eco & cognition in vitro : can cognitive mechanisms explain ecological behaviour ?”, Invited talk, in French Federation of Students & Young Researchers in Cognitive Science (FRESCO)’s Journal club. Open access slides
  • 2020 November 27 : “Cultural evolution of psychedelics usage, and the “entropic brain” hypothesis”, Invited talk, in Cultural Evolution Online’s seminar. Open access notes
  • 2020 May 5 & 26 : “Do collective brains dream of cultural evolution ?”, Invited talk, in Frederic NEF’s “Structures et agents” class, ENS Ulm.
  • 2019 March 30 : “Is cognition an exemple of evolution ?”, Conference, in French Federation of Students & Young Researchers in Cognitive Science (FRESCO)’s Young Researchers Symposium.
  • 2019 March 29 : “The coevolution of ethics and power in large scale societies”, Invited talk, in Institute for Complex Systems - Paris Île de France (ISC-PIF)’s Coffee break.
  • 2018 May 6 : “Adaptive control & evolution in robotics”, Invited talk, in National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS).