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The increase in the performance of desktop computers has opened the way for professionals, students, and people interested in life simulations to create their own using some of the existing Artificial Life software available (Alife Soft), or even programming it themselves.
Darwinbots (www.darwinbots.com) is an artificial life software that emulates life and evolution. It simulates “genes” that control the behavior of the individual (bot). For each gene there is a condition that triggers its activation (promoter), a body that dictates gene function (ORF), and an end marker (stop codon). However, there are no intermediate information carriers or effectors (RNA or proteins) and gene interactions are minimal. Individuals with similar DNA recognize each other as relatives (specie).
Executing an encoded action demands energy and produces waste (metabolism). Individuals may die if their energy reserve is too low or the waste around them is too high. The way that each individual gets its energy and deals with its waste is the driving force of their evolution. Feeding is the most complex process and involves vision, movement, target recognition and attack. Each process may consist of one or more genes and activation consumes energy. Efficiency is essential to survival.
The software itself could evolve in the hands of programmers towards a model of complex interactions amongst cells, tissues and organs. Normal and pathological physiology could be re-thought as inter-specific relationships. Could these bots go that far? Are we ready to follow them?
Review by Ana Laura
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