I've always had an interest in how the mind works, how computers work, and how computers might be made to act more like the mind. After attending the first "Artificial Life" conference in 1987 (named and organized by Chris Langton, then at Los Alamos), I finally began to think I might actually have a clue as to how one might pursue that subject to its logical conclusion. The field of Artifical Life, or ALife, or Theoretical Biology (as Chris sometimes wishes he had named it) is about many things--not just a more bottom-up, practical approach to artificial intelligence, though that is the portion of the field that excites me the most. ALife embraces studies of the origin of natural life, chaos (and emergent order), catalysis and self-catalysing systems, "wet" evolution as a method for designing molecules, genetic algorithms, and much more.
After attending a few of the seminal workshops and conferences on the subject, I wrote up limited or extensive notes. The notes from the first conference are the sketchiest, but I'm placing all of the reports here, mostly unedited, as partial documentation of some events that I consider truly significant in the development of human thought.
Notes exist for the following events and subjects:
For an excellent, popular introduction to the field seek out a copy of Steven Levy's Artificial Life: The Quest for a New Creation. For more in depth, technical resources, the proceedings to the Artificial Life conferences are probably the very best bet. There have been nine published so far, and they are simply called Artificial Life I, Artificial Life II, etc. The earliest, seminal volumes capture the spirit of the field I am most fond of, and my Polyworld paper is in the third volume.
Additional information about Artificial Life is available at the web site of the International Society of Artificial Life (ALife.org), including society membership, which includes a subscription to the Artificial Life journal.
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