Olaf Witkowski is the director of research at Cross Labs, a new research institute which studies the fundamental principles of biological and artificial intelligence, funded and supported by Cross Compass Ltd. He is also a lecturer in information sciences at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Tokyo, a research scientist of the Earth-Life Science Institute of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and a regular visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

He co-founded ventures in science and technology on three continents, including YHouse­ ­– a nonprofit transdisciplinary research institute in New York, focused on awareness, artificial intelligence and complex systems – and the Center for the Study of Apparent Selves – studying Buddhist philosophy and AI. He received his PhD in neuroevolution learning and collective intelligence under Takashi Ikegami, from the Computer Science Department of the University of Tokyo.

He is a board director of the International Society for Artificial Life, was a Program Chair for the ALIFE 2018 conference ‘Beyond AI’ in Tokyo, and remained involved in the next editions since then. He is also the lead organizer of numerous meetings in AI and cognitive science, including Cross Roads (Tokyo/online), YHouse Consciousness Club (Manhattan), IAS Cognition Lunches (Princeton), and many more.


Olaf Witkowski’s research tackles the nature of intelligence in both artificial systems and living organizations, employing the tools of artificial life, connectionist learning, and information theory. His goal is to reach a better understanding of the following triptych of complex phenomena:

  • the emergence of information flows that led to the origins of life,
  • the evolution of intelligence in the major evolutionary transitions,
  • the expansion of communication and cooperation in the future of the bio- and techno-sphere.

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