First Replicating “Creature” Created in Game of Life

A first for the game, the replicator demonstrates how astounding complexity can arise from simple beginnings and processes – an echo of life’s origins, perhaps. It might help us understand how life on Earth began, or even inspire strategies to build tiny computers.

The Game of Life is the best-known example of a cellular automaton, in which patterns form and evolve on a grid according to a few simple rules. You play the game by choosing an initial pattern of “live” cells, and then watch as the configuration changes over many generations as the rules are applied over and over again (see “Take two simple rules”).

The rules of the game were laid down by mathematician John Conway in 1970, but cellular automata first took off in the 1940s when the late mathematician John von Neumann suggested using them to demonstrate self-replication in nature. This lent philosophical undertones to Life, which ended up attracting a cult following.

Life enthusiasts have since catalogued an entire zoo of interesting patterns, such as “spaceships” that travel across the grid, or “guns”, which constantly spawn other patterns. But a pattern that spawned an identical copy of itself proved elusive.

New Scientist:

(Thanks socialfiction)

Organic Transistor Paves Way for New Generations of Neuro-Inspired Computers

organic transistor

For the first time, CNRS(1) and CEA(2) researchers have developed a transistor that can mimic the main functionalities of a synapse(3). This organic transistor, based on pentacene(4) and gold nanoparticles and known as a NOMFET (Nanoparticle Organic Memory Field-Effect Transistor), has opened the way to new generations of neuro-inspired computers, capable of responding in a manner similar to the nervous system.

The study is published in the 22 January 2010 issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

In the development of new information processing strategies, one approach consists in mimicking the way biological systems such as neuron networks operate to produce electronic circuits with new features. In the nervous system, a synapse is the junction between two neurons, enabling the transmission of electric messages from one neuron to another and the adaptation of the message as a function of the nature of the incoming signal (plasticity). For example, if the synapse receives very closely packed pulses of incoming signals, it will transmit a more intense action potential. Conversely, if the pulses are spaced farther apart, the action potential will be weaker.

It is this plasticity that the researchers have succeeding in mimicking with the NOMFET.

Organic Transistor Paves Way for New Generations of Neuro-Inspired Computers

(Thanks Chris S)

Robots evolve to learn cooperation, hunting

robot evolution

If robots are allowed to evolve through natural selection, they will develop adaptive abilities to hunt prey, cooperate, and even help one another, according to Swiss researchers.

In a series of experiments described in the journal PLoS Biology, Dario Floreano of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and Laurent Keller of the University of Lausanne reported that simple, small-wheeled Khepera and Alice robots can evolve behaviors such as collision-free movement and homing techniques in only several hundred “generations.”

The robots were controlled by a neural network that mutated randomly, with input information from the robots’ sensors. In an imitation of natural selection, the robots with the best maneuvering abilities were allowed to foster a new generation. Furthermore, selected robots were “paired” by having their neural net connections mixed and passed to a new generation.

CNET: Robots evolve to learn cooperation, hunting

The PLoS paper cited

(via Chris Arkenberg)

Game with AI designed weapons

gar weapons

Galactic Arms Race is a free computer game created by University of Central Florida’s Evolutionary Complexity Research Group. It appears to be a traditional sci-fi blaster game, with a twist: the various “power-up” weapons are created by the game, based on actual user behavior.

For example, the “Ultrawide” (above) “fires a wide pattern that is good for blocking incoming projectiles and is hard to evade.”

Galactic Arms Race

(via Chris 23)

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