Note — Oct 03, 2021

The Digital Jungle

Seen in → No.190

Source →

Second time in as many weeks that I feature a piece by Claire L. Evans, this one from back in January, on Tom Ray’s quest to create artificial life and better understand evolution. Mixing some biography with some of the technical reasoning. Somewhat like last week’s The Word for Web Is Forest, we find ourselves at this strange metaphorical, yet also kind of real, overlap where our technology mirrors nature, and where some lessons can be gleaned.

[L]ife itself transcends biology, ALife researchers believe. As Langton writes, it’s “a property of form, not matter.” This form can be peeled away from matter and studied on its own in myriad ways: through hardware, by building robots, through wetware, in the pursuit of synthetic biology, and through software, as with Tom Ray’s Tierra. […]

“[A] true general purpose intelligence is much more likely to arise not from mimicking the structure of the core of the human cortex, or anything like that, but from actually taking seriously the computational principles that life has been applying since the very beginning.” […]

It’s this synthetic, rather than analytical, approach that may carry us through the [AI] winter and into the spring. It moves with the flow of life, rather than searching for the shape of a river in a molecule of water.