Realising Synthetic Active Inference Agents, Part II: Variational Message Updates

5 Jun 2023  ·  Thijs van de Laar, Magnus Koudahl, Bert de Vries ·

The Free Energy Principle (FEP) describes (biological) agents as minimising a variational Free Energy (FE) with respect to a generative model of their environment. Active Inference (AIF) is a corollary of the FEP that describes how agents explore and exploit their environment by minimising an expected FE objective. In two related papers, we describe a scalable, epistemic approach to synthetic AIF agents, by message passing on free-form Forney-style Factor Graphs (FFGs). A companion paper (part I) introduces a Constrained FFG (CFFG) notation that visually represents (generalised) FE objectives for AIF. The current paper (part II) derives message passing algorithms that minimise (generalised) FE objectives on a CFFG by variational calculus. A comparison between simulated Bethe and generalised FE agents illustrates how synthetic AIF induces epistemic behaviour on a T-maze navigation task. With a full message passing account of synthetic AIF agents, it becomes possible to derive and reuse message updates across models and move closer to industrial applications of synthetic AIF.

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