EvoGrid "The Movies"
The following are whimsical treatments of where the EvoGrid concept may take us years in the future
Director: Bruce Damer, Animator: Ryan Norkus, Audio Editing and Composition: Dhiren Dasu, and Numerous Advisors

EvoGrid The Movie #1 (final release version)
Play directly in YouTube from this link (larger view)
Also download this directly in Windows Media (30MB)
or download in MP4 (20MB) or watch this in High Def on Vimeo

EvoGrid The Movie #2: The Asteroid Eaters

Play directly in YouTube from this link (larger view)
Also download this directly in Windows Media (44MB)
or download in MP4 (18MB)

A Bit of an Explanation behind EvoGrid the Movie #1

In this short 3D computer animated movie, we see the high level concept of EvoGrid Deep (the Evolution Machine) described in four short scenes:

a) In Scene 1 the camera swings around in front of the Evolution Machine's "cube" which is a translucent block representing the simulation space. Underneath are a grid of interconnected squares representing the computing power driving the EvoSim. The grid of CPUs doubles and suddenly we observe the previously randomy moving particles in the cube start to self-organize into clumps and strings.

b) Scene 2 has us swinging into the cube and passing by the self-organizing virtual particles until we come upon a vesicle forming around a clump. Something akin to internal organs results and the ability to copy the vesicle from a blueprint. This is similar to concepts arising from recent work on "protocells" (Rasmussen, Novak et al).

c) In Scene 3 one of our "entities" is seen being drawn into a portal at the far end of the cube representing a kind of digital scanner. The scanner dismembers the entitiy and translates it into a format that can be made into a chemical realization. Continuing this fanciful concept you can see the transmission of data from the simulation cube over to a "NanoFab", a black box which takes in fundamental elements in order to make a "chemical clone" of the evolved-from-scratch digital entity.

d) In the final Scene, the NanoFab has worked away (magic we still dont know how to do) and out the end, pushed along a pipette (glass tube) comes our freshly minted chemo-entity. It emerges from the end of the tube and drops into a beaker of fluid, formulated to match the properties of the sim-cube. For a moment the chemo-entity floats, "thinks" (adjusts its now chemically written algorithms to the medium), finds it familiar enough and then the flagella flagellate and off it swims.

In conclusion, this short movie is inspired by the concept of an "Origin of Artificial Life" created in a book chapter by Prof. Richard Gordon in Divine Action and Natural Selection. We follow this by a full synthesis of viable chemical versions of the virtual entities evolved in the simulator. While this complete pathway may not be realized in our lifetimes, it might be a compelling vision for future generations.

Collage of Stills

EvoGrid Update Slide Presentations (Fall 2008)

Combined Detailed Storyboard (Oct 2008)

Click to see detail

Initial scene treatments

Click here for bigger view of beginning storyboard
(Sept 1, 2008)

Click here for Overall View including camera tracking and scenes+actions (Oct 3, 2008)


Detailed Storyboard (Oct 9, 2008)


More Detailed Script
for EvoGrid, the Movie

These sketches are a cinematic representation of what the "Deep EvoGrid" or "EvoGrid/Origins of Artificial Life" concept is. And what is the 'Deep EvoGrid' exactly? Well, its all about creating a "digital primordial soup" (or "agar" as Tom Barbalet commented about the block sketch when I sent these to him) and letting it run on enough processors (the symbolic underlayment grid of squares, ever increasing in density) such that there is ultimately a spontaneous emergence of "proto life-like" processes in algorithms (no programmer's fingers in the soup please!). So if that is of interest, dear friend, read on...

The EvoGrid movie script might begin with the camera viewpoint approaching the cube (actually it is rectangular, see later) from one corner and then swinging around it, from the front/corner to the side, getting ever closer in so that the detail of the contents becomes visible (a lot of little particles shaking and shifting around). The underlayment layer underneath the cube is an abstract representation of microprocessors (cores actually) connected in a grid. As you come into the side-view of the cube, the underlayer doubles (ie, the number of processors doubles, getting smaller in the process). This represents the growing of compute power/processors in a grid that is feeding the cube.

After the camera slows to a stop alongside the cube in the next moment there is a sudden visual phase shift in the agar that represents the emergence of spontaneous self-organization. The eventual phases of that self organization might be:

1. Low level self-organization with replicating simple forms (looks like a lot of wiggling strings or clumps or suddenly aggregating most of the particles), followed by
2. The resulting shortage of building blocks and energy (a hollowing out leaving empty spaces between strings/clumps), then
3. The arising of discrete entities that are able to use simple machinery to engage in competition and adaptation (lots of little vesicles of slightly different shapes/sizes -mostly round or oval- moving around).

Page Two shows a bit of the camera choreography of "moving in close" and then inside the cube. I think as the camera moves up to and then inside the cube, we could show 2 and 3 happening. So as explained before, outside the cube side-on just after the camera stops, the underlaying grid doubles a couple of times and then phase 1 happens. Then you swing on into the cube to look at the wiggling clumpy strings and phase 2 comes on (shortages!). Then, suddenly, a vesicle forms around a clump of stringy like things (protect that resource!) and we pull back to just outside the cube where we were before the first phase transition happened and we see that vesicles are forming everywhere. Soon most but not all of the soup is vesicles.

We then move forward into the cube this time along the long axis (well i guess it isnt a cube but a rectangular slab if it has a long axis!) passing vesicle after vesicle with each one showing more complex internal machinery. This represents the gradual adaptation occurring in the vesicles which are now moving beyond mere containers and becoming 'entities'. We then pull up to and stop in front of a particular entity with lots of cool internal gadgets running as it moves about (cilia hairs on outside?). Then it becomes apparent, like a scene in a deep sea sci fi flic, that his vesicle is being drawn into a portal that comes into view in the distance through the fog of the soup. The portal slowly opens like an iris as it is meant to represent a kind of cyber-camera or scope.

Once drawn across the boundary of the scope, we somehow represent that the entity is being imaged (from its digital representation) into a chemical representation. One could show this by beams of light tracing around the body of the entity as the iris opens and the entity passes through. Then those data beams could then route up and over to a mysterious black box in the distance that houses the molecular nanomanufacturing machinery (a great grandkid of those 3D printers we saw at Austech). Then some kind of 'hand waving' happens as molecular sheaths are made and stuff etched out as the vesicle is realized in atoms. None of this is shown in the drawings attached, hence the hand waving. We could come up with something for the "inside the black box" sequence later.

The last sequence (shown in the drawings) the newly minted little chemo-entity emerges out of the back of the nanomanufacturing black box and is then propelled along the length of a clear glass pipette tube. As the camera follows the entity along the tapering tube (which might eventually turn downward into a liquid bath) the entity slows and then the camera zooms in as the entity ceremoniously pops out into what is obviously a soup of real molecules. Once in the soup, the entity floats, as in a classical movie pregnant pause (as in birth), "thinks" for a minute, and then its little machinery (sensors on the outside, cilia hairs, and internal gizmos) all come alive and off it swims in an undulating fashion, off camera (exit stage left?). Somehow the representation of the chemo-entity and its chemo-bath would have a different visual look than the digi-entity and digi-soup.

Swimming off into the future...

Next installments of the movie would include:
1. The underlying programming layer to make all of this possible (lots of little interacting particles going along channels into pools).
2. The EvoGrid cube/genesis-o-matic applied to other environments as an "origin of life machine" wherein you would simulate, say, an atmosphere, surface or subsurface of some planet or body like an asteroid or comet, inject basic elements, and see whether in principle life could in fact start there. You could then postulate more precisely where life might possibly arise, such as in the oceans of Europa, the atmosphere of Jupiter, the polar ice of Mars, or some cavity in a comet or asteroid.
3. The EvoGrid/ID (Intelligent Designer) wherein engineers "plant" basic structures that are life-like and give things a bit of a kick start, even connecting disparate environments. Is the God the Tinkerer mode!


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The EvoGrid is a project of Biota.org

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