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Technological Sphere


Complexity and Artificial Life

As our technology develops, it will become more and more complex. Currently we design our systems from scratch, and unexpected emergent features are usually regarded as bad. But in order to deal with, and to control, the complex world we live in, our technology has to be able to evolve, adapt and repair itself. This will be especially needed in the areas of nanotechnology and advanced computing.

It is quite possible that future technology will be indistinguishable from life, both in complexity, flexibility and unpredictability. We will have to sacrifice rigid control over it in exchange for increased subtility, as Kevin Kelly suggests in Out of Control. In many cases technology will design and grow itself. And it will have the beauty and mystery of organic shape.


Complexity Experiments
Other Sites
See Also



Visual Models of Morphogenesis: A Guided Tour. A fine example of the organic complexity even simple systems can produce.
Genetic Programming Tutorial Notebook.
Out of Control by Kevin Kelly. Book about how technology is moving more and more towards a complex networked "lifelike" structure rather than oldfashioned control and hierarchy.

Complexity Experiments

Self-Organization in Large Populations of Mobile Robots by Cem Ünsal. This has, beside the obvious applications for robotics, interesting applications for nanotechnology.
Karl Sims Retrospective. Karl Sims has evolved virtual plants and animals. A nice demonstration of that genetic algorithms can evolve new solutions.
The Tierra Project. An experiment to create a net-wide ecosystem of digital life.
Artificial Societies by Peter Tyson (Technology Review). About how artificial life methods could be used to turn economics and sociology into experimental sciences.


Investigations: The Nature of Autonomous Agents and the Worlds they Mutually Create by Stuart A. Kauffman. "The material below is not yet science. However, it is serious "protoscience" -- an attempt to formulate questions and concepts that may, in due course, become serious science."
Approaches to Complexity Engineering S. Wolfram: Physica D, 22 (October 1986) 385-399. How can complex systems be used in engineering?
Agorics papers by Mark S. Miller and K. Eric Drexler (in The Ecology of Computation, Bernardo Huberman (ed.) Elsevier Science Publishers/North-Holland, 1988). About how markets and evolution can be applied in computation.
Combining Agoric and Genetic Methods in Stochastic Design by J. Storrs Hall. How market-like models can be used in design.
Some thoughts on multi-agent systems and "hyper-economy" by Alexander Chislenko.
Biosemiotics, the study of signification in living systems.
Economic resources for Internet-based computing.
Limiting the Evolution of Replicators. Evolution is not always desirable, and under some circumstances it might be needed to prevent replicating systems from evolving.

Complexity Based Technology

Most of current research turn towards evolutionary algorithms, using evolution to breed computer programs to solve various tasks (this includes genetic algorithms, genetic programming, classifier systems and evolution strategies). It appears very likely that these methods will eventually be used in the design and function of a wide variety of devices.

The Artificial Self-Replication Home Page by Moshe Sipper. Links, events and papers on self-replication.
Robot, Build Thyself by Thomas Bass (article from Discover, October 1995). About how self-replicating robots could be used for very large projects.
"Artificial Life" Algorithms as a Mechanism for Modeling Self-Assembling/Self-Organizing Molecular Components and Substrates by Charles Ostman. How self-organizing structures could be developed.
Darwin Machines by Cosma Shalizi. How can evolution be useful?
Aspects of Evolutionary Design by Computers by Peter Bentley. Different ways computers can perform evolutionary design.
Hardware Evolution by Adrian Thompson.
Controlling Smart Matter by Tad Hogg and Bernardo A. Huberman. Designing micromechanical systems that control the behavior of "smart matter".
Bionik & Evolutionstechnik (in German). Various applications of evolutionary design.
Agents of Albia. (New Scientist 9 May 1998). About the creatures in CyberLife's game Creatures, which involves both evolution and reinforcement learning.

Complexity Websites

Complex and Adaptive Systems Information. Lots of resources about complexity.
A Semi-annotated Artificial Life Bibliography of On-line Publications by Ezequiel A Di Paolo.
Evolution, Complexity and Philosophy Page of Hans-Cees A.M. Speel. The links between evolution, memetics, philosophy and complexity.
The Complexity & Artificial Life Research Concept for Self-Organizing Systems (CALResCo Group).
Complexity in Yahoo
genetic algorithms in Yahoo
World-Wide Web Virtual Library of Complex Systems.


Kevin Kelly, Out of Control

See also

Relevant newsgroup:,,, comp.theory.dynamic-sys, sci.chaos, comp.theory.cell-automata, comp.theory.self-org-sys and comp.theory

Anders Sandberg /