Do plants minimize surprise?

Calvo and Friston came up with this:

In this article we account for the way plants respond to salient features of their environment under the free-energy principle for biological systems. Biological self-organization amounts to the minimization of surprise over time. We posit that any self-organizing system must embody a generative model whose predictions ensure that (expected) free energy is minimized through action. Plants respond in a fast, and yet coordinated manner, to environmental contingencies. They pro-actively sample their local environment to elicit information with an adaptive value. Our main thesis is that plant behaviour takes place by way of a process (active inference) that predicts the environmental sources of sensory stimulation. This principle, we argue, endows plants with a form of perception that underwrites purposeful, anticipatory behaviour. The aim of the article is to assess the prospects of a radical predictive processing story that would follow naturally from the free-energy principle for biological systems; an approach that may ultimately bear upon our understanding of life and cognition more broadly.

I suspect it is speculative, but it is always interesting to see how economics-related ideas sometimes shape biology, and vice versa.

Here is the paper, and for the pointer I thank Michelle Dawson.


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