Digital Biota II
Gordon Selley is currently running the Telematics Design Group, a small research group within the London College of Printing working on EU and UK funded projects. He studied graphic design at Maidstone College of Art and continued with a Masters in Electronic Graphics at Coventry Polytechnic. He gained a PhD in Computer Graphics under a Fellowship programme funded by Rediffusion Simulation where he specialised in natural form image generation. Gordon has worked in computer graphics R&D for Real World Graphics, Parallax Graphics Systems, and Digital Workshops Ltd, developing commercial CG applications, games, and Internet sites.

Abstract of discussion:

This presentation will introduce the project TechnoSphere, describe how we have developed it over the last 3 years and end with a discussion of the results of running an artificial life simulator on-line. TechnoSphere is an award winning interactive computer-based 'virtual world' (awards include Prix Ars Electronica 1997, Distinction; Imaginaria The British Art and Technology Awards 1998, Finalist; British Computer Society Innovation Awards 1997, Nominee). The digital ecology of the 3D world, which is housed on our server, depends on the participation of an on-line public who access the world via the Internet. Users build their own artificial life-forms, making carnivores or herbivores from component parts (heads, bodies, eyes, wheels). Once a creature is built, users name their digital creature and it is tagged with their email address and it is then put into a 3D world. In this fractal terrain trees self-seed at certain heights to make forests and there are savannah-like plains on which the cyber beasts artificially 'live'. On September 1st 1995 we opened a prototype version which runs over the Internet and is accessed via the World Wide Web. In the two and a half years that TechnoSphere has been on-line over 250,000 users have visited the website and they have built 700,000 creatures.

In our presentation we will discuss the artificial life engine used in TechnoSphere and the wider social aspects of the project. Key areas that we will discuss include a close look at the creatures which are simulated energy state models that use a rule-based decision mechanism; the creatures sensors and effectors; evolution in TechnoSphere according to a physiological energy model; reasons for avoiding morphogenetic modelling; and TechnoSphere's synthetic ecology, social behaviour and communication. We will raise issues for discussion around the notion of co-operative learning and evolutionery theories.


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Digital Biota 2 is sponsored by

CyberLife Technology