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Artificial Life - An Overview


Artificial Life - An Overview Ritendra Datta Penn State University What is Life? State of a functional activity and continual change, before death (defined ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Artificial Life - An Overview

Artificial Life - An Overview
  • Ritendra Datta
  • Penn State University

What is Life?
  • State of a functional activity and continual
    change, before death (defined complimentarily as
  • Characterized by the capability to
  • Reproduce itself,
  • Adapt to an environment in a quest for survival,
  • Take Actions independent of exterior agents.

Nature as a special case of Life
  • The Biology of Nature so far been the scientific
    study of life on Earth based on Carbon-chain
  • However, nothing restricts the study of
    properties of life to carbon-chain chemistry it
    is merely the only form of life so far available
    for study.
  • Further motivation to study life as a generic
    concept comes from the hypothesis that we are
    perhaps just one possible atom combination that
    makes this life possible. We havent met other
    examples (Aliens).

which brings us to A-Life
  • Lack of any available non-carbon based life-forms
    motivates us to create an artificial environment
    and a set of rules for life to evolve.
  • Artificial Life, or ALife or AL is the study of
    non-organic organisms, beyond the creations of
    nature, that possess the essential properties of
    life as we understand it, and whose environment
    is artificially created in an alternative media,
    which very often is a logical device like the

ALife as a Synthesis approach
  • Rather than being an analytical study of
    natural life, A-Life is a Synthesis approach to
    studying any form of Life.
  • We have
  • an artificially-created environment (usually)
    within computers,
  • A fairly universal set of rules and properties of
    life, derived from the one example we have of
    life - Natural life.

So what is the motivation?
  • A-Life could have been dubbed as
    yet-another-approach to studying intelligent
    life, had it not been for the Emergent properties
    in life that motivates scientists to explore the
    possibility of artificially creating life and
    expecting the unexpected.
  • An Emergent property is created when something
    becomes more than sum of its parts. For example,
    half a human is not capable of working without
    the other half, but together, capable of very
    complex behavior (not a representative example).

So where does A-Life fit in?
  • The A-Life concept helps to
  • Study existing natural life forms by trying to
    simulate the generic rules they follow, the
    environmental parameters like entropy/chaos , and
    the seed, i.e. the initial set of elements on
    which the rules of life apply under the given
    environmental condition, in order to understand
    evolution in nature.
  • Create new life within the digital world by
    creating new set of external parameters, seeds,
    and rules of evolution, and let life find a way.

So is A-Life AI ??
A-Life Emergence
  • What you get when something is more than the sum
    of its parts.
  • Human thoughts rely on nearly all cells that make
    up the brain - single cells are incapable of
    thought - thought is the emergence property of
    these cells coming together and interacting to
    give complex results - motivation behind CA, NN.
  • Extreme example Earth as a one living thing,
    consisting of whole of nature being in dynamic
    equilibrium, each part having baring on the other.

A-Life Entropy
  • Second Law of Thermodynamics When two systems
    are joined together, the entropy (or chaos) in
    the combined system is greater than the sum of
    the individual systems.
  • This roughly applies to all systems, including
    those that exchange information.
  • Life is all about fighting against entropy as
    other systems lose information to surroundings,
    life not only keeps hold of its information, but
    also increases its amount of information.

A-Life Complexity
  • Life is a complex system It is a dynamic system
    that can keep on changing and evolving over a
    great period of time without dying.
  • If the amount of information exchange in a system
    is varied from low to high, it gives Fixed,
    Periodic, and Chaotic systems in that order.
    Somewhere in between, a system exhibits complex
  • Accordingly, each unit in a system either dies,
    freezes, pulsates, or behaves in a complex manner.

A-Life Chaos Theory
  • Chaos Theory explains apparent randomness - many
    apparently random events are not truly random -
    they are just iteration of simple rules on
    existing states (and possibly previous states)
    generating complex behavior - they live on the
    edge of total chaos.
  • Most natural processes are chaotic - sea, wind.
  • Some man-made processes are chaotic - Financial
  • Lack of knowledge of all rules,inputs and seed
    prevents us from determining the exact state of
    such a system at a point, but knowledge of some
    of those dominant rules/inputs lead to possible
    prediction of general behavior of the system.
  • This lack of knowledge of all parameters leads us
    to conclude it to be random behavior of the

A-Life Current research areas
  • Mathematical, Philosophical, Biological
    foundations, Social and Ethical implications of
  • Cellular Automata
  • Neural Networks
  • Genetic Algorithms
  • Origin, Self-organization, Repair and Replication
  • Evolutionary / Adaptive Dynamics
  • Autonomous,Adaptive and Evolving Robots
  • Software Agents (good/evil)
  • Emergent Collective Behaviors, Swarms.
  • Synthetic/Artificial Chemistry/Biology/Materials
  • Applications Finance, Economics, Gaming, MEMS

  • Research on Foundation tries to answer questions
    about the motivation behind such a
    ground-breaking concept, using our existing
    knowledge base in Math, Chemistry, Biology,
    Philosophy of life etc. The Question is How, why
    and where can the ALife approach succeed (or
  • Research on Implications tries to understand and
    explain how the extension of life as a generic
    concept impacts our understanding of the very
    basics of natural life, shattering (or possibly
    not affecting) many-a-belief about God, creation
    and destruction. The Question here is How does
    ALife fit in (if at all) to the present-day
    social setup of morals and ethics, often laid out
    by the various religious texts ?

Alife Cellular Automata
  • Inspired by the way Natural biological cells
    behave and interact with their neighboring cells
    by following rules set out by the DNA code in
  • Cellular Automata (CA) is an array of
    N-dimensional cells that interact with their
    neighboring cells according to a pre-determined
    set of rules, to generate actions, which in turn
    may trigger a new series of reactions on itself
    or its neighbors.
  • The best known example is Conways Life, which is
    a 2-state 2-D CA with simple rules (see on right)
    applied to all cells simultaneously to create
    generations of cells from an initial pattern.
  • Different initial patterns generate different
    behavorial patterns, some die away (unstable),
    some blink (periodic), and the rest show complex
    behavior by continuing to live and evolve.