Integrated World Modeling Theory (IWMT): Combining Integrated Information and Global Workspace Theories with the Free Energy Principle and Active Inference Framework Adam Safron (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN ) C1
The Free Energy Principle and Active Inference Framework (FEP-AI) begins with the understanding that thermodynamically-open systems must regulate environmental exchanges and prevent entropic accumulation. In FEP-AI, nervous systems are predictive controllers, where action-driven perception is realized as probabilistic inference over the causes of sensory observations. Integrated Information Theory (IIT) begins with considering the preconditions for a system to intrinsically exist, as well as axioms regarding the nature of consciousness. IIT has produced controversy because of its surprising entailments: quasi-panpsychism; subjectivity without referents or dynamics; and the possibility of fully-intelligent-yet-unconscious brain simulations. Here, I describe ways that these controversies might be resolved by integrating IIT with FEP-AI, where integrated information only entails consciousness for systems with perspectival reference frames capable of generating models with spatial, temporal, and causal coherence for self and world. Without that connection with external reality, systems could have arbitrarily high amounts of integrated information, but nonetheless would not entail subjective experience. Then, inspired by both Global Workspace Theory and the Harmonic Brain Modes framework, I introduce models wherein the stream of consciousness emerges as the ongoing generation of sensorimotor predictions, with the precise composition of experiences depending on the integration abilities of synchronous complexes as self-organizing harmonic modes (SOHMs). Integrating dynamics are particularly likely to occur via richly connected subnetworks affording body-centric sources of phenomenal binding and executive control. These dynamic-cores of integrated information also function as global-workspaces, centered on posterior medial cortices, but capable of being entrained with frontal cortices and interoceptive hierarchies, so affording agentic causation. Integrated World Modelling Theory (IWMT) represents a synthetic approach to understanding consciousness and agency, showing how both are real emergent phenomenon with causal significance.