Steps to artificial life

Artificial life is an old dream of people, but the research has only with considerations John von Neumanns. In the course of space travel, he designed the model of a cellular machine that became a role model for further development. Some indications of the story of the KL gives Florian Rotzer.

While it has become the project of artificial intelligence of silent, another fascination has spread. Cyberspace attracts and scares the entrance into the data room, in the virtual worlds, which you can now see not only on a screen, but in which you can go into the mirror with his body like Alice in the mirror. But already a new research direction in connection with the computer comes up, but actually challenging is as the simulation of the cognition and the perception world. Despised by the Ki-Patabsten long, begins for a few years – parallel to the theory of neuronal Darwinism in brain research – the scoop of artificial life to moult. She does not “above” in the simulation of the evolutionary historical spade cognition, in the manipulation of symbols and in the construction of complicated control systems, but it goes from “below” out, d.H. From simple, coincidence and principle of self-organization. The first successes of this strategy can be seen that the parallel computers and the so-called neuronal networks, with whom one believes that they believe promising to come to the cognitive, come from the approach of this research direction. Thus, for example, William Daniel Hillis, one of the pioneers of artificial life, developed the so-called combat machine, a very fast computer where over 60000 processors work in parallel. In addition to genetic engineering, stimulation of neurons and cerebral transplantation, a further taboo is torn: the degree of new forms of life in the ocological niches of the digital memory seems to have been possible.

A for many unpleasant, for some pleasantly exciting light of this artificial life has already detected in very reduced form some computers, which are populated by the so-called computer viruses and occasionally paralyzed. In the artificial, but further expanding biotope of networking computers spread out and reproduce themselves. You may not be waiting for a long time that such computer viruses will soon be produced, which exist in mutants and thus encounter attacks of the owners by changing their information chains. Then the race between parasites and hosts became a similar momentum, as it happens in nature. Here, too, life has developed from simple living things and the microorganisms are still more than 90% of the organisms. Biologists suspect that the DNS life from sound, ie a silicon-containing compound, by a “genetic power” developed. Today, we may be at the beginning of another power of power in which the DNS life can be allowed again a life in silicon and maybe at some point could be solved by him. But similar as with interventions in the biological code, the consequences can not be predicted in the manipulation of the digital codes of artificial life. Where evolutionary processes, ie learning events, whether in the artificial or biological life, use, developments become complex and withdraw in the long term control.

In a well-researched and superable book by Steven Levy, a comprehensive overview of the history and the state of research that deals with the artificial life. The dream is natural, but as a research program started with considerations for the automatic theory of Mathematics Genies John von Neumann. Under vending machines of Neumann machines whose behavior is mathematically formalizable, which process information, organize themselves and can also reproduce.

Model was the idea of the turing machine or a finite machine, which is at any time in a specific state that will be “behavior” Due to a more absorbent information and its description consists of a finite, albeit very rough number of possible terms. From Neumann, his machine initially designed as a kind of robot, which reproduce itself from materials and into its product, controlled by a computer, then copying a digital information tape comparable to the biological DNA. He has developed a still pretty complicated cellular machine, as in principle it was able to implement it on a computer. The digital “organism” consists of many independent programs or cells that behave according to certain rules and compare their condition with those of adjacent cells and respect. From these only locally determined behaviors of the individual cells, then synergetically creates a global behavior pattern. If one for this creature regulate the overall behavior, which acts as a kind of computer, factory and duplicator, so it could, mathematically, build new cells and a new organism as duplicate. This virtual creature was still lacking an essential ingredient of life, namely the evolutionary process, which changes the controlling information chain through mutation and selection.

On the basis of the previously theoretically existing cellular machines, John Conway then realized at the end of the 1960s a the Japanese Go-Game Analog board game, which he “Life” named. On a kind of chessboard are in the squares the individual machines, which exist in two, alive or dead, exist. Each cell survives the next time cycle when two or three of their neighbors also live, she dies when it is more or less, but it can be born again in the next generation if they then have exactly three living neighbors. With these simple rules made from random initial constellations a variety of patterns that were stable or periodically changed, which broke and formed new patterns. was surprising that suddenly an object consisting of 5 cells began to move in one direction.

With this game was then installed as a program on a computer with the same fascinating and unpredictable results. In addition to trying to simulate the emergence of life on the computer, cellular machines with local interactions and without global rules remained trend-setting for research, which occurred in 1987 in Los Alamos by a Congrb Organized by Chris Langton for the first direction and with the program, to work out the logical basis of living systems, thereby creating new life forms. With the creation of artificial life you do not just want to create digital life or intelligent robots, but also believe that the biological life and evolution come to the track, of course, aming that the life is characterized by a complex information and not bound to a certain material.

At the beginning of the 90s, the biologist Thomas Rey installed artificial organisms consisting of computer instructions, lived in the memory of the computer, were exposed to random mutations and for processor period and storage. The digital code acted both as a geno-type, as it became the reproduction of the successful copied, such as Phano-type, as it also controlled the behavior. After the organisms consisted of 80 commands had spread in the available space and appeared first mutants, Ray suddenly stated that parasites had developed from only 45 commands that used the code of the other organisms for their replication. This implies an evolutionary wettrust, because the criteria for customized organisms had completely changed.

The presence of parasites multiplied by the diversity and showed that maybe the mutation is not the driving force of evolution in biological life. The advantage of such computer simulations is that millions of generations can develop within a few minutes and that the genetic change of a population can document step for step. But still the cellular machines are to be credited in their capacity to simulate a complex environment and the number of individuals in nature of individuals of a population sufficiently similar.

The scientists are present to produce an artificial flora in the virtual space of the computer, an artificial fauna and a scary okology under conditions of blind evolution. But the evolution is also taxable and thus is interesting for profitable applications, for example for the production of computer programs, which should solve problems on Darwinist species. The genetic algorithms developed by John Holland are random bit chains suspended and evaluated after their success.

By pairing, replication and random mutation, programs can be bought in a controlled selection of problems for the solution of problems. During the programmers otherwise time consuming for each individual situation that the program is confronted, you must set what to do, you can beat genetic algorithms very quickly programs, which go to a problem even if their details are unknown. Nobody then, of course, whether the programs thus selected does not produce unwise effects or evolve, from a specific complexity, to further develop another direction. For example, if you have managed to develop artificial life, for example, only in the simple form of computer viruses as a self-replicating and adaptive organisms to your information document system, there is a risk that the game comes with the evolution of control.

The scientists of artificial life still work compared to the genetic engineering without a rough opposition. This can quickly change how Steven Levy noticed properly when the first vicious autonomous computer viruses developed for military purposes, in sensitive computer systems and similarly like biological microorganisms by evolution protruding against attacks. In any case, Levy’s overview of the fascinating research makes it clear that we must have to be used to recognize non-organic things as alive. From the genetic removal of man through a post-biological life, which, some of the Apocalyptian conforms scenes and some technophiles, we seem to be far from being far away. But who can say that?

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