Talks@IDSIA: Tim Taylor and Varun Raj
Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Start date: 15 December 2009
End date: 16 December 2009
One of the grand challenges in artificial life is to understand how to build systems capable of indefinitely continuing evolutionary change,
which exhibit a comparable capacity for complexity, diversity and creativity as observed in their natural counterparts. The ability to
create artificial systems with this kind of rich, on-going evolutionary potential (i.e. "open-ended evolutionary systems") would
have profound implications for the automated production of complex artifacts, artificial life and artificial intelligence. However, all
attempts at creating this kind of system to date, including systems of self-replicating computer programs (e.g. Tom Ray's Tierra, or my own
Cosmos), together with attempts at evolving real RNA molecules in vitro, have met with failure; they quickly reach a quasi-stable state
beyond which no further qualitative changes are observed.
In earlier work I analysed the reasons for these failures, and proposed ways in which they may be overcome. One of the key problems
is in designing a system in which agents can come to exploit their environments, and to interact with each other, in novel and creative
ways beyond those which have already be "programmed into" the system.
To solve this problem involves looking at it from a different angle, and modelling agents and environment as a single dynamical system.
I will describe results from some initial pilot studies of this new approach, which exhibit, among other things, the emergence of agents
that can solve tasks by evolving new forms of sensing and control of their environment that were not specifically "programmed in". I will
end the talk by discussing a number of issues that arise from this new modelling perspective, which define the focus of my ongoing research in this area.