The synthesis and simulation of artificial living systems

by Harold Fellermann

16:00 (40 min) in USB 5.008

In July/August 2019, the School of Computing will host the 2019 Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2019), a major international conference organized by the ICOS group.

In my talk, I will introduce the diverse field of Artificial Life research, wherein researchers examine systems related to natural life, its processes, and its evolution, by means of simulations with computer models, robotics, and biochemistry. As a research field, Artificial Life recreates aspects of living systems within these models in order to better understand traditional biology, or to incorporate life-like properties into traditional technologies. Core topics of Artificial Life research encompass self-organization and emergence, self-replication, adaptation and open ended evolution, population dynamics, swarm behaviour, embodiment, intelligence, language and coding, and cognition. In contrast to most other scientific disciplines, Artificial Life is a very open and welcoming community that equally draws from natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, philosophy and the arts.

While the discipline is sometimes regarded by its adversaries as an academic "hobby" with little relation to real life, we feel that, in fact, this interdisciplinary and constantly self-innovating community brings together a set of skills and perspectives with a unique potential to tackle some of the most pressing societal challenges of our times. The theme "How can Artificial Life Help to Solve Societal Challenges" will run through the conference in the shape of keynote presentations and satellite events that apply Artificial Life principles to research on sustainable technologies, bioremediation, urban development and environmental planning, alternative societies a.s.o. But more than merely theming presentations, the ALIFE 2019 organizers are revisiting the very way academic conferences are run, so that us academics can realize some of the change we are advocating for.