Darwin Day

3 December 2008

The Evolution of Evolution: Using synthetic systems to explain natural ones

Dr Beau Lotto (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Visual Science)

The second law of thermodynamics states that a natural system will with time become increasingly random. There are, however, two kinds of natural system: those that follow this law and those that don’t. Living systems are of the second kind. Unlike the waves on the surface of the North Sea or an avalanche tumbling down the side of Ben Nevis, living structures ‘have a purpose’ … to survive, to invert the relentless move towards randomness – at least for a while. The brain is arguably the most complicated of these and thus one of the most difficult to describe. What is more, if we are to explain the brain we must first understand the code hidden in its described structure. Here, in celebration of Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’, we will talk about what this code might be and how it evolved … but not in the real world. Instead we will talk about the evolution of virtual agents in synthetic worlds and how this may help explain how natural brains halt the perpetual walk to randomness.

Page last modified on 03 dec 08 13:18

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