Ask A Genius 477 – Free Energy Principles and the Mechanics of Emergence in Life

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 477 – Free Energy Principles and the Mechanics of Emergence in Life

December 18, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What’s the deal with the free energy principle of Karl Friston? This you brought up. I’d like to talk about it more.

Rick Rosner: I started learning about it. I came across an issue of Wired Magazine. It has an article on Karl Friston and his principal free energy minimization. The overall principle or of an organizing principle of all animal life.

He calls this free energy. It has analogies with entropy and lack of information or free energy. What’s important about his system, it at least puts a lot of ideas about cognition on a vaguely mathematical basis.

It has a sense of adventure about analogies between mathematical properties and cognitive processes. Free energy is basically the capacity to be surprised, which is also equal to, in certain ways, the entropy of the system.

The capacity to be surprised about a certain situation is the number of different possible outcomes that there could be. So, a thousand different outcomes for some game between a couple of teams.

You have the capacity to be surprised if you read nothing about the outcome. Because it could be any of a thousand things. So, many of the outcomes would be a one in a thousand event, which is a rare surprise.

But knowing what the outcome is going to be, you minimize your surprise; you minimize your free energy; you minimize your entropy. Because what’s going to happen, you are not going to be surprised.

If you go to one of three things that could happen out of a possible thousand, you minimize your surprise with this principle.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


[1] Four format points for the session article:

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  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
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  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
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License and Copyright

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at and


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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