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From The EvoGrid: The Evolution Technology Grid
Earlier Project Background
Background to Biota.org and the EvoGrid
In 1996 Bruce Damer founded an organization called Biota.org to serve as a catalyst bringing diverse communities together around the theme of the origin of life, software that simulates life-like properties, artificial-life platforms, synthetic biology, and artistic and science fiction visions. Four conferences were held, the first at the site of the Burgess Shale in 1997, with featured notable figures as Douglas Adams, Richard Dawkins, Karl Sims, Tom Ray, Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker and others. After a decade of work with NASA on building open source 3D simulations, Bruce and an international team are coming together to develop another endeavor for Biota.org, Project EvoGrid. "EvoGrid" is a short form of "Evolution Technology Grid" and will take a bottom-up approach to the challenge of merging biology with technology.
In one version of the EvoGrid known as "Broad", existing A-life simulations will be connected together into a common network allowing, say, the virtual ants from one simulation to travel into a virtual forest of another. Each A-life simulation would be enriched by the flow of increasingly complex objects and their collective biological realism could rise. In the second version of the EvoGrid, known as "Deep", we plan to create a multi-core, grid-based high performance simulation system in which with the right mix of properties, spontaneous adaptive complexity and the emergence of simple, life-like entities might be observed. EvoGrid Broad is a vision of a life simulator involving "intelligent designers", whereas EvoGrid Deep is more akin to an "Origin of Artificial Life" experiment. The EvoGrid concept is being developed in several communities, including the Grey Thumb "home brew artificial life" clubs worldwide.
EvoGrid the Un-Singularity
While the EvoGrid may bear some similarity to many Singularity concepts, it is at heart very much an "un-singularity" project. A co-author of the concept, Bruce Damer, believes that humanity is likely very far from being able to create top-down intelligence in software. Instead, he proposes that a more realizable and profound goal for humanity would be to show that an analog to evolution of life from the simplest starting virtual materials can in principle happen in a properly tuned and sufficiently powered digital simulation. The building of a successful "Evolution Machine" would shed life on the origins of terrestrial life, help us understand where in the universe life might arise, and give Humanity a powerful new tool: the tool of evolution, to shape life in the 21st Century and beyond.
The source concepts for the EvoGrid emerged from a collaborative writing project which has produced a new book: Divine Action and Natural Selection (World Scientific) scheduled for release on October 27th. For more details see: http://www.worldscibooks.com/lifesci/6998.html and see attached chapter by Bruce entitled "The God Detector" which develops the EvoGrid concept.
Biota.org, its conferences and new podcast are at: http://www.biota.org
New! EvoGrid PhD Research Proposal for the SMARTLab, University of East London (Revised Sept 2008)
EvoGrid Architectural Components (proposed)
Bruce Damer's original design notes for Nerves (the Autolab Project) from December 1994-August 1995
Digital Spaces (DSS) an Open Source 3D Platform Developed by DigitalSpace and a distributed team for NASA is a building block of the EvoGrid prototyping effort. See applications built in DSS at the DigitalSpace Corporation site