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Artificial Life Forms are a little different than either ML Bots or AI Bots. They are
virtual models of organic life existing entirely within a closed universe, or virtual
reality. Artificial Life Forms are entirely self-refrencing, and generally speaking
the creator of these MLAI Systems is responsible for generating both the life form
itself as well as the virtual world in which it exists. In order to be considered for
the Saint Stephen AI Project, an Artificial Life Form must have an accessible genetic
code that can be experimented with - and the virtual universe in which it lives must
also have adjustable parameters. Wherever possible, the home Web Site of the original
programmer of the system will be given. If the experiment is downloadable, it will be
found on the FREE Downloads page of the Saint Stephen AI Project. If this is the case
I will offer both the baseline version, as well as any modified creatures that I have
developed through experimentation. Again, these will not be found here - but on the
FREE Downloads page.
Normally I would not include any experiment in Artificial Life that I can not perform
myself as part of the Saint Stephen AI Project. But in this case, it is just so far
out that I could not resist. Of course, if someone wants to donate a Cray or DeepBlue,
I would be more than happy to replicate this fascinating experiment in Virtual Life.
For the first time, researchers have visualized the changing atomic structure of a
virus by calculating how each of the virus' one million atoms interacted with each
other every femtosecond--or one-millionth-of-a-billionth of a second. A better
understanding of viral structures and mechanisms may one day allow researchers to
design improved strategies to combat viral infections in plants, animals and even
This is no ordinary computer virus ! Using a real-life virus as a model, researchers
have built a virtual version using more than a million digital atoms. Scientists have
previously simulated small pieces of living cells, but researchers say this is the
first digital simulation of an entire life form. For their project, the researchers
chose to digitally reverse engineer the satellite tobacco mosaic virus due to its
small size and simplicity.
The researchers used one of the world's largest and fastest computers to simulate all
the atoms in a satellite virus and a small drop of water surrounding it. All
together, the virus and water droplet contained more than a million atoms. Because of
the enormous computing power involved, the virus was brought to digital life for a
very brief period of time, only 50 nanoseconds.
Led by Klaus Schulten at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the team
tapped the high-performance power of the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA) processors to accomplish the task. Still, it took about 100 days
to generate just 50 nanoseconds of virus activity. Schulten says it would have taken
the average desktop computer 35 years to come up with the results ! The simulation
revealed key physical properties of satellite tobacco mosaic virus, a very
simple, plant-infecting virus. Ultimately, scientists will generate longer
simulations from bigger biological entities, but to do so, they need the next
generation of supercomputers, the so-called "petascale high-performance computing
Vendians are an Artificial Life experiment that for some reason reminds me of Sea
Monkeys. It runs as a stand-alone MS-DOS instance, with no installation needed. The
idea is simple: if genetics is our programming code, why not use programming code for
genetics of a-life. It makes things so much simpler. These little animals are really
just little computer programs running a BASIC like programming language.
The world the Vendians live in is full of food, represented by green pixels. Left to
their own devices, these green pixels will become brighter and brighter, representing
more and more food. The Vendians want to eat the food, because food represents energy
and they need energy to exists and if they collect enough energy, they can have
This simple program describes the behaviour of an animal looking for food and
producing offspring. Then the fun part starts. The program is copied to the
offspring, but with errors. Parameters are changed, parts of programs are duplicated
or removed and random statements are inserted. Not often, but sometimes. Hopefully
this will lead to better animals and even carnivors.
Once in every hundred duplications, the code of an animal is dumped in the
subdirectory log with a random name. When the program is later restarted, all
animals from this log are instantiated. In this directory you can see how your
evolution is doing or you can add here your own programs and see how they do against
the creatures of Darwin. This experiment is available for download on our FREE
Downloads page as well as on the developers Web Site, link below.
The Norn Artificial Life Forms are perhaps the most complex, interesting, advanced,
and engaging experiment in A-Life. No matter how long I make this description, it
will not do justice to this amazing system from Creature Labs.
You begin by downloading their free software which will install a "Docking
Station". This is a cross between a space ship and a world, where you raise your
various colonies of Norns. The Docking Station is incredibly complex, and modular.
There are tons of fan created downloads with which you may add both content as well
as space to your Docking Station.
The Norns themselves are even more complex. They have a genetic code, and by using
another free download called the "Genetic Lab" you can get down and dirty actually
manipulating the Norn's genes. There are an ever growing number of seperate
breeds of Norns, and I myself am currently learning the system while conducting
various cross-breeding experiments. The behavior of the Norns as they grow, live, and
breed is the most complex and lifelike I have ever experienced in an A-Life program.
They are completely autonomous, they explore their environment and experiment with
everything in it. They even speak to eachother and to YOU. If you play online you
can communicate with other players, and occaisionally one of your Norns may warp out
and go exploring - or vice versa, one may show up from elswhere and join your colony !
That's not all, you can actively interact with the Norns and their environment. You can
pick them up and carry them to other parts of the Docking Station, you can even speak
to them ! All in all, this system is so complex and engaging that you could
experiment for the rest of your life and not exhaust the possibilities and intrigue
of this amazing A-Life experimental platform. In the future, look to our own FREE
Downloads page for various Docking Station add-ons and actual creatures. Also keep
your eye on our LINKS page for directions to some of the amazing fan Sites.
Bitozoa are small animals trying to survive in a simple world. To do so, they have to
evolve. Simulated world consist of plants, herbivores eating plants, and carnivores
eating herbivores. Plants are just plants (I know, it is a tautology), herbivores and
carnivores are Bitozoa. Bitozoon has eyes, neural network and two flagella. Eyes can see
all objects present in the simulated world. Signal from the eyes is used as an input to
the neural network. Output from the neural network fires flagella thus moves Bitozoon.
Every bitozoon has its energy level called stamina. Stamina is burned out by neurons and
flagella. Stamina is also burned out when bitozoa are idle, with a speed proportional to
their age. Plants are source of stamina for herbivores and herbivores are source of stamina
for carnivores. When two Bitozoa with high enough stamina level and from the same species
meet they breed leaving a flock of its progeny. When two Bitozoa from different species
meet two things may happen. If a carnivore stamina level is high enough carnivore will
eat herbivore. If the stamina level is to low carnivore will die trampled by herbivore.
When Bitozoon has too much stamina it will breed asexually. Its stamina is divided evenly
between two identical animals. Every Bitozoon is described by a bunch of numbers that
determine its behavior and details of anatomy. All those numbers can not be changed in a
life time of an animal. Every Bitozoon inherits those numbers from both parents in a random
way. At the breed time any parameter can be changed by mutation. This includes number of
neurons and topology of the neural network. There are three colors used in the simulation
- let’s call them red, green, and blue. Green is for plants, red for carnivores and blue for
herbivores. Colors present on the screen are not necessarily those seen by Bitozoa - shades
of blue and red are too dark to be used on the display. Color of the animal reflects its
stamina level - the more stamina animal has, the brighter it looks. Bitozoa eyes sense this
difference. Plants grow in pots. Pots are not visible on the screen but they are used when
checking if a new plant should grow. At every simulation step one pot is randomly chosen -
if it is empty (plant was eaten) new plant is planted. Changes in number of pots are the
only way to change flow of the energy into the system.
In current anatomy eyes can see all three colors independently. Whether there are five eyes
each with three sensors or fifteen eyes of three kinds is a subject of ongoing dispute.
Sixteen numbers (one for every color and for every eye plus stamina level) made up input for
neural network. Eyes look into five directions, as shown on the picture. Eyes are described
by two numbers. Eye sensitivity describes how good are eyes when looking at distant objects
and angular sensitivity describes how narrow is an eye’s angle of vision. Neural network
has a variable number of neurons and a variable topology. Every neuron has five inputs and
one output. Network does not have a layered structure - every neuron can be connected with
every other, it can be even connected with its own output. Network does not have to use all
input values and all neurons output. Topology and weights are inherited from both parents
and they can be changed at the breeding time, thus five-neuron parents can have a four or
six neurons offspring. Neural network weights are not changing in the life span of animals.
At the beginning of the simulation all flagella have the same angle to the body (45 degrees).
This can be mutated later. The Bitozoa suite is a simple MS-DOS exe with no software to
install. This experimental suite also comes with a seperate exe to use as a screen saver,
and a very comprehensible read me manual. Unfortunately, the original developer has
dissappeared from the Web, so you will have to download it from our FREE Downloads page
here at the Saint Stephen AI Project, and you will not be able to get support. But the
release we offer is very stable, and this complex and exciting experiment in A-Life is
definately worth trying. As time permits me, I will in the future offer some of my own
animals that I created using this suite for download.
VIWonder is the latest machine intelligence project from Quantum Flux. VIWonder works
with language-based information, and it acquires this knowledge by searching the
internet on its own. When running, two VI's carry on a conversation with each other -
on subject of interest to them; or they will respond to your input, and talk about
whatever you ask them to. VIWonder can be run as a stand alone program, or installed
as a screen saver. When the program starts, it zooms to the two VI's, who will quickly
start a conversation with each other. This conversation should be different every
time, but does not included any new information, it is from learning done during the
program development. If you start typing, the VI's should stop talking and pay
attention to you. For a while anyway...
Now, if I were giving out prizes here at the Saint Stephen AI Project for A-Life
suites - I would have to award the "Most Wierd" gold medal to VI Wonder. I mean this
program is just plain strange. But, that said - it works and works well. And truly
it is quite fascinating, though disconcerting - to watch these two scantily clad
young AI females prancing around this olympian little world they inhabit. Must be
seen to be believed. To learn more about this A-Life suite, and the philosophy
and theory behind it - visit the home Web Site of Quantum Flux. You can download
the program from there, or from our FREE Downloads page.
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