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Previous Programs

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Information as Fuel
Awardees

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

David Wolpert
Santa Fe Institute

Co-Investigators

Artemy Kolchinsky, Santa Fe Institute

Project Title

The role of constraints in the thermodynamics of intelligence

Project Summary

Historically, one of the most productive ways of analyzing intelligent agents has been to view them as physically embodied systems that acquire information from their environment and perform computations on that information in order to decide how to act. An example is a lion that smells an antelope, then computes how to move in order to catch and then eat the antelope. In this project we take this perspective to heart, modeling agents and their environments using novel ideas from statistical physics which relates information, computation, and energy. In our framework, the "intelligence" of an agent in defined terms of how much information they can acquire and much computation they can perform; the benefit of intelligence is measured in terms of how much energy they can extract from their environment using that information and computation. This framework applies to "intelligent agents" ranging from bacteria to lions to entire human societies. By using it to analyze the relationship between the information-processing abilities of the agent and the amount of energy that it can harvest, we expect to get deep insights into the physics of real-world intelligent agents.



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