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6363New Paper on the Necessary Conditions for Open-Ended Evolution

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  • kenstanley01
    Jun 9, 2014
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      Lisa Soros and I are pleased to announce our new paper to appear at the Alife Conference, "Identifying Necessary Conditions for Open-Ended Evolution through the Artificial Life World of Chromaria." 


      There are also videos of the new Chromaria alife world that we introduce in this paper:


      This paper takes a new perspective on the deep and unanswered question that haunts the field of artificial life of what it takes to create an artificial world that exhibits truly open-ended dynamics.  Of course, this topic has plenty of controversy; even the definition of "open-ended" is potentially controversial.  But at the same time, it is pretty well agreed that whatever it is, it has proven much harder to achieve than initially expected.  One way to think of open-endedness is as a process that continues to create novel and interesting forms forever, or at least (in practice) almost forever.  (Earth has done it for a billion years or so, so that would count as open-ended in most people's book.) 

      In the paper we propose 4 necessary conditions for open-ended evolution and then we introduce a new alife world called Chromaria that satisfies the 4 conditions to a reasonable extent.  While we could not test all 4 in one conference paper, we test one of the conditions in detail in a controlled experiment with the idea that the others will be tested similarly later. 

      In terms of interesting contributions, I think one of the interesting things about our 4 conditions is that many existing alife world could be argued not to meet all of them.  At the same time, many conceivable worlds that could meet them would be radically different from Earth, suggesting that attempts to model things like predator-prey or host-parasite dynamics and adaptive competition, which are observed on Earth, might be distractions from the deeper underlying causes of open-endedness.  The other interesting contribution is Chromaria itself, which is a very unique kind of alife world (in part to show you don't need to be like Earth to be open-ended).

      We know we're wading into controversial waters with this work, but we hope it helps to instigate some new thinking and a new conversation about these issues, which we think are possible to figure out despite being so elusive so far.