MetaVuMaking Sense of Data MetaVu
C-IQCollaborative Intelligence C-IQ
NASAMission-related Projects BIOBOT
BEACONBio- Evolutionary Advanced Concepts
ESACEarth Science & Astrobiology Collaboratory
ALifeBio-inspired Design ALife X

ALife (artificial life)

focuses on hypothesis construction and scenario-building, and so pioneers a new scientific method that relies on the designer's method, conceiving and modeling hypothetical scenarios and observing how they play out. An emerging discipline, ALife is ready to reach beyond its focused community to show the relevance of its methods and models to

  • address key scientific questions and engineering challenges of our time, such as understanding the process of biological evolution; offer new insights on the relevance of information theory to evolvable, emergent processes;
  • enhance understanding of the subtle self-regulation of adapting, evolving living systems;
  • contribute knowledge about self-organizing, self-healing processes that may be relevant to understanding those processes in living systems;
  • increase our capacity to apply evolutionary process models to agent-based task allocation and collaborative problem-solving in bio-inspired collaborative agents and robot systems;
  • support new project-based collaborations for ALife researchers with industry partners and other sponsors.

Designing Artificial Life Challenges

This think tank session entertained blue sky ideas “across the game board” for ALife challenges/ competitions that could demonstrate the potential of ALife to contribute to scientific knowledge and technology development. The following questions were our starting point to come up with some strong ideas to develop into competitions:

  • How can artificial life models offer insight on the technical hurdles for a truly grand challenge — the synthesis of life?
  • What competition ideas would best showcase what ALife can offer toward technological innovation and as a new method to develop and test scientific hypotheses?
  • What can ALife contribute to current debates about Darwinian evolution?

We explored how ALife Challenges can create an "ecosystem for innovation," serving as Petri dishes to culture ALife models that shed light on the big science and technology questions of our time.

Part I. Designing ALife Challenges
Date/Location: June 4, 2006
at ALife X, 7 PM to 10 PM
Co-Chairs: Zann Gill, Director, ESAC
Mark Bedau, Co-Founder, European Center for Living Technology and Editor-in-Chief, Artificial Life (MIT Press Journal)

Christoph Adami, Professor, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, studying how digital organisms evolve and collaborating with NASA JPL.

Dario Floreano, Professor and Director, Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.

Natalio Krasnogor, Automated Scheduling, Planning and Optimisation Group, Sciences and Information Technology, University of Nottingham.

Norman Packard,CEO, ProtoLife and Co-Founder, European Center for Living Technology.

Jordan Pollack, DEMO Lab, Computer Science Department Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University.

Peter Wills, Department of Physics, University of Auckland.

Filmmakers recorded the session:

Robert Anderson Clift, Producer/ Director for PBS.
Recent projects:

Eric Donald Harvey, former videographer, Discovery Channel

Submissions: ALife Challenge ideas.

For diversion, while preparing your chapter submission and/or specifying your proposed ALife Challenge, take a break to watch the gridbugs eat, mutate, and evolve.

An "Is it Alive?" Prize
Can ALife make a significant contribution to debates about the nature of biological evolution? Criteria for awarding an "Is it Alive?" Prize is under debate.

Images courtesy:
ALife animations – Lightcycle
Biobot - Mark Cutkosky, CDR, Stanford
Biomodels - Natalio Krasnogor
Cellular Automata - Wolfram Research
Golem robot - Jordan Pollack and Hod Lipson
Vesicles - Martin Hanczyc

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