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Electronic Life Makes Evolving Art 54

brilanon writes "Good news! On Sept 4, critterdrug, the a-life lab for the twenty-teens, was updated to make generating a species almost trivial. A new video shows semi-random artificial animals gaining neurons and synapses as they compete to draw a gradient on an animated shared canvas which constitutes 1024 frames spread through time. The canvas is a 10-megabyte digital background for the lossy neural nets that populate the world. What you get are cellular automata run by psychic neural nets that are bound by the rules of a survival contest with physics. Features implementations of telepathy, Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields and five types of drugs. The key assignments have changed since critterding; check the changelog on the web page for the new ones. Happy hacking!"
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Electronic Life Makes Evolving Art

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  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @04:53PM (#33999008) Homepage Journal

    The summary probably makes more sense when you're high.

  • What is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by migla ( 1099771 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#33999030)

    It's critterdrug.

    Yes, but what is is?

    It's a fork of critterding.

    Yes, but what is it?

    It's an a-life lab for the twenty-teens.

    Yes, but what is it?

    It's semi-random artificial animals gaining neurons and synapses as they compete to draw a gradient on an animated shared canvas which constitutes 1024 frames spread through time.

    Yes, but what is it?

    • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Saturday October 23, 2010 @05:08PM (#33999102) Homepage Journal

      All you need to do is to watch that linked youtube video.

      It doesn't explain anything at all but will give you epilepsy after two viewings.


    • Re:What is it? (Score:5, Informative)

      by emurphy42 ( 631808 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @05:26PM (#33999210) Homepage

      It's semi-random computer-simulated artificial animals moving, eating, breeding, evolving and surviving (or not). The link to critterding [] doesn't directly state this, but gives enough information that you can reasonably figure it out:

      How the program works

      Critters are informed by sensors:

      • if their head touches food unit
      • if their head touches another critter
      • if they are able to procreate
      • about their energy state
      • about their age
      • about the state of their joints
      • what the world looks like (RGBA vision)

      Critters can make use of the following motor neurons (actions):

      • bend joint
      • bend joint in other direction
      • eat
      • procreate

      At default, the program sets up a small world with a relatively large amount of food units and keeps throwing in critters with randomly generated brains and bodies.

      (picture omitted)

      After a while, one of these idiot critters will unavoidably be good enough to maintain a small population:

      (picture omitted)

      Slowly but surely, their behaviour will become a lot less random as they demonstrate increasingly better survival skills:

      (picture and video omitted)

    • I've never seen one before (no one has), but I'm guessing it's a white hole.

    • The linked /. article [] in the YouTube video description helps a bit. Sounds like drugs are the key element for both the AI and probably the humans who are involved :p

    • by oreaq ( 817314 )
      You have to read the description of critterding [] in order to understand the changes made in critterdrug (as described in TFA). The software actually is pretty cool. It's a simulation of a evolutionary process starting with agents ("critters") with different random attributes. The agents can perform actions like "eat", "procreate", or "bend joint" and have sensors for "food", other critters, their own condition, and so on.
    • As far as I can tell it is a waste of time. There is no science here, no mathematics, and it seems to be a pretty awful game. This is a huge waste of computer resources all around and I'm frankly surprised the summary managed to be as coherent as it did.

    • by sempir ( 1916194 )
      I was worried, and afraid to show my ignorance by saying i didn't understand what the hell the topic was about...Now I don't feel so bad.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#33999032)

    I'm pretty goddamn drunk right now but I'm fucking certain that summary makes as little sense to everyone else on here as it does to me.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#33999034)

    my universe keeps getting stopped and restarted.

    • That is just randoms starving to death at roughly the same time or dying of old age. You can tamper mincritters in F6 to speed that part up, or slow it down, if you want. It's a search at the start: then when a species gets hold, it's optimization

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Advertisement! Something for teens has been updated with a new interface, making it easier! There's a video of ... pokemon? eating brains and trying to use the gradient fill tool in photoshop on a 1024 frame video. The canvas is a big background for .. digimon I guess. What you get are viruses bound by the psychic friends network on the Survivor tv show competing against ... the forces of physics? Maybe they're trying to defy gravity or build a space elevator or something. The submitter to

  • ... is in the eye of the beholder. Don't make them smarter or more advanced or with knowledge of what is beauty. A rainbow could be considered art, and that is just light passing thru a prism.
    • "A rainbow could be considered art, and that is just light passing thru a prism."

      No, no, no. Prisms remove the anti-colors. You know nothing, Jon Snow.

  • Did somebody make a talking snake and the apple yet. What about a "tree of knowledge" ?
  • This is a good example as to why smart people need a marketing person.

    WTF is it? I get that it's suppose to be AI, but what the heck is it trying to accomplish? Is it trying to make a color palette?

  • by brilanon ( 1121645 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @05:48PM (#33999402) Homepage Journal

    + keys to drug the whole population: hjnm, and undrug, dfcvb. Fullscreen was moved to g, colourmode moved to x, and mouselook moved to / (careful!)

    If you hit F1, a lot of those keys are misreported -- I'm so sorry ;_;

    Also, do hit 's' as one of the first things and edit your new profile called 'default' in the working directory, then launch with --profile default to use the new settings. A lot of the options new with critterdrug aren't configurable in-game yet...

    Also it uses ~/.critterding like critterding itself. This is not really a major collision, you can still use both apps if you separate the profile names and keep the load dir clean (can't exchange critters between ding and drug)

    Those are the most important caveats... if you want to show them pictures, I'd make ~/.critterding/screenshots a ramdisk... then just squirt 64x48 PNM's to scrn.pnm there, and set show_scrn.pnm_every. Also, anim_screen_every can be set much higher than 1 in order to make sure each pixel sits long enough to convert to a firing rate (not just a potential change)... or they might only 'see' a blur

    I reasoned eventually that what they experience as qualia is probably firing rates not potentials. But what exactly does that say, anyway?

    I'm really happy it hit the frontpage :3 It's a science app and it isn't finished but I hope someone gets some joy from this. Researching evolved AI has been a lot of fun for me. The app is about ten months old... critterding, two to three years. In fact critterding is included in debian now.


    • That doesn't make much more sense than the summary. But at least you didn't bring in as much breathless enthusiasm, and kept it a little more rational.

      Look, simple question: what does the app *do*? What's the *point* of "evolving" these things? That's the missing part.

      • It's possible to test, using these models of evolution, whether the more advanced behaviors we see, like posting to Slashdot, could eventually be attained by these computer models.

        Actually there was recently a headline about some kind of relatively advanced behavior which was evolved in this way (not using that particular program). Sorry, I don't remember what it was. Have a vague hunch I heard about from the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast.

        I suppose it's supposed to add extra evidence to help conve

        • I suppose it's supposed to add extra evidence to help convert the evolution-nay-sayers, but frankly, they're preaching to a (relatively) deaf choir, in that case.

          If I was a evolution nay-sayer, I could very well believe that a computer can *simulate* evolution without also believing that humans are the result of evolution. So... if that's the purpose, someone didn't think it all the way through. I still don't really get it but, ok whatever.

    • by sempir ( 1916194 )
      I just knew some airy fairy bastard would get the intent fuckin wrong! It is a Scottish programing tool to find out if lesbian debians...oops ..sorry , debian lesbians can proformicate ++a+. Jeezuz...can't you bastards get anything right?
  • by zoom-ping ( 905112 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @05:49PM (#33999408)
    The Electric Sheep [].
    Best. Screensaver. Ever.
    • !!! Thank you !!!

  • by Exitar ( 809068 )

    It's April Fools' already?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"