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

Working papers

  • 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

  • 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).