Fourth ISAL Summer School

Huma. 109

The International Society for Artificial Life is organizing the Fourth ISAL Summer School on Artificial Life, hosted by ECAL 2017 on Monday 4th September at LyonTech Campus. This school is open to all ECAL participants whose registration includes attendance on Monday.

Curriculum Overview

  • 9:00-9:05 Welcome and introduction
    René Doursat (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
  • 9:05-10:35 Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Artificial Life
    Mark Bedau (Reed College, USA)
  • 11:00-12:30 Digital Evolution
    Charles Ofria (Michigan State University, USA)
  • 14:00-15:30 Open-Ended Simulations
    Susan Stepney (University of York, UK)
  • 16:00-17:30 Artificial Chemistries
    Wolfgang Banzhaf (Michigan State University, USA)

Abstracts and Instructor Bios

9:05-10:35 Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Artificial Life
Mark Bedau (Reed College, USA)

My presentation is a view of artificial life from 30,000 feet. I will briefly introduce the historical roots of the contemporary multi-disciplinary sciences involved in artificial life, including its “soft”, “hard”, “wet” and “socio- technical” forms, and some of their grand challenges. I will also introduce artificial life’s foundational philosophical assumptions and implications, and say a word about its special social responsibilities.

Bio: Prof. Mark A. Bedau (Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Reed College; Adjunct Professor of Systems Science at Portland State University) has extensively published and lectured on philosophical and scientific issues concerning emergence, evolution, life, mind, and the social and ethical implications of new and emerging technologies. He combines training in analytical philosophy with over two decades of experience in artificial life, and he has co-authored or co-edited 7 books, including Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science (MIT Press), Protocells: Bridging Nonliving and Living Matter (MIT Press), and The Ethics of Protocells: Moral and Social Implications of Creating Life in the Laboratory (MIT Press), Living technology: 5 questions (Automatic Press/VIP), and The nature of life: classical and contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science (Cambridge University Press). For the past fifteen years he has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal Artificial Life (published by MIT Press), and he was the founding President of the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL).

11:00-12:30 Digital Evolution
Charles Ofria (Michigan State University, USA)

In digital evolution, populations of computer programs must self-replicate and evolve to survive in a virtual world where they are subject to mutations, interactions with other organisms, and the pressures of natural selection. These digital organisms evolve in an open-ended manner, enabling us to address biological questions that are difficult or impossible to study in natural systems. In turn, digital evolution facilitates practical applications of new evolutionary concepts, for example, to design adaptable control systems for sensor networks and robotic swarms. I will discuss the history of digital evolution, examine how it is helping to unite concepts between evolutionary biology and evolutionary computation, and provide an overview of ongoing research areas.

Bio: Charles Ofria is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University, President of the International Society for Artificial Life, the director of the Digital Evolution (DEvo) Lab there, and a co-founder of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. He obtained Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems from the California Institute of Technology in 1999. Dr. Ofria’s research focuses on the interplay between computer science and Darwinian evolution. He has led the development of Avida, an artificial life software platform to study the evolutionary biology using self-replicating and evolving computer programs (digital organisms). Avida has been used extensively to study the basic processes that underlie Darwinian evolution. Avida is under active development in Ofria’s Digital Evolution Lab at Michigan State University and was originally designed in conjunction with Chris Adami and C. Titus Brown at Caltech in 1993.

14:00-15:30 Open-Ended simulations
Susan Stepney (University of York, UK)

Open-ended behaviour in simulated systems is one goal of artificial life, yet the term “open-ended” is rarely defined. Here I discuss a recent definition in terms of models and meta-models, its consequences for discovering multi-scale open-endedness in computer simulations, and some suggested ways forward.

Bio: Susan Stepney is Professor of Computer Science at the University of York, UK. She is Director of the interdisciplinary York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis. Originally a theoretical astrophysicist, she then spent 18 years in industrial R&D (GEC-Marconi and Logica), applying formal methods to commercial products. She returned to academia in 2002, researching aspects of unconventional computation and complex systems. She was a member of the EU funded Coordination Activity TRUCE (Training and Research in Unconventional Computation in Europe), and the EU FP7 EvoEvo (Evolution of Evolution) project. Her current research focuses on emergence, self-modification, meta-evolution, and artificial chemistries. She is Vice-President of ISAL.

16:00-17:30 Artificial Chemistries
Wolfgang Banzhaf (Michigan State University, USA)

In this presentation I shall discuss the field of Artificial Chemistries and what it can offer to researchers in Artificial Life. Novelty, emergence and organization will play key roles in this discussion.

Bio: Wolfgang Banzhaf is the John R. Koza Chair for Genetic Programming in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University and a member of the NSF-sponsored BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Originally a physicist, he moved into Computer Science after his PhD to work on problems related to self-organization, complex systems and evolution/learning. He is the author, together with Lidia Yamamoto, of the first book on Artificial Chemistries, published by MIT Press in 2015. He is also co-author of the books Genetic Programming – An Introduction (Morgan Kaufmann 1998) and Linear Genetic Programming (Springer 2007). His long-term research interests are emergence, novelty and time.

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