Sunday, October 31, 2010

Viral Update

I am constantly revising my ecosystem code, as such, it is often necessary to update all the scripts in a given species withing a particular simulator. However, this is often easier said than done. While it is technically possible to keep track of the UUID of each object in the sim, and update the scripts in each object as needed, a more elegant solution is the "viral update" technique, whereby objects "infect" their neighbors with new code. First pioneered by SL user Sera Rawley, I've adapted the technique for OpenSim, and to work with my new plant protocol. Watching a viral update in progress can be pretty cool, if one properly color codes the objects to show their updating status:

This mode of update has several uses, aside from simply replacing outmoded bioware. For example, allowing multiple interacting scripts in an animal to be exchanged with other scripts in nearby organisms allows us to emulate evolution in action, in ways that go beyond the simple adaptation hard coded into the basic plant or animal scripts. Selection for particular combinations of scripts, for example, is somewhat different than selection based on variable parameters within particular scripts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

stabilizing population

Simulation has been running most of the day, on and off, and the population distribution hasn't changed much from this.

Server is not lagged appreciably yet, event with the ton and a half of sensor sweeps being done...

Moar Plants

If you don't know, or if you haven't until now cared, one of my main research interests is evolution and natural selection, specifically the evolution of "modularity", or functional units, from individual pieces. My interest "flowered" briefly with the "ecosystem working group", which managed to get a rudimentary ecosystem running on an "open space" type server (Lord knows how). And then, for a while, on Second Life, I maintained "Second Nature", a sim (donated by the Nature Publishing Group) for experiments in "artificial life". We had a nice thing going there, but as is the way of things, it could not last forever.

In any event, since OpenSim is now stable enough to handle large scale artificial life simulations, I've decided to bring the project to my standalone open nature sim, subnatura.

But not just the same project, which was just an attempt to get something like real a-life up and running. I'm going to be looking at the evolution of cooperative groups (modules) of organisms (in this case, stationary elements that are more or less plants) and study the degree to which their cooperative behavior can be considered "intelligent". But getting the plants to run, given some of OpenSim's scripting quirks (which casual users may not encounter) has been a little bit of a challenge.

All that said, I appear to have a small and growing population of "mushrooms" for now (they won't stay mushroom for long, but it was a convenient temporary sculpt map). They don't seem to be lagging the server to hell, but we'll see what happens when they are fruitful and multiply further.

Next I will be adding code that allow them to virally update the software each of them run (an innovation by Second Life's Sera Rawley) and then code that allows them to form cooperative assemblies and to optimize (learn) the size and nature of the assemblies, given particular environmental challenges (herbivores?)

This looks to be fun.

(note: test grid subnatura is intermittently available via hypergrid at At some point I plan to make the implementation grid available 24-7).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Freaking Aut

I got into virtual worlds because of James Wagner Au. And he's been a remarkable advocate for Second Life and other virtual worlds. But he somehow seems obsessed with virtual worlds being *in competition* with other kinds of social media. But really, is it any surprise that more people are playing simple social games then are playing around in virtual spaces and virtual worlds? Virtual spaces require a kind of investment, a *sensory investment* that farmchumps does not. A complex environment forces you to engage with it, a simple environment less so. Given how people are wired, I don't think the entire gaming internet is going to want to play high investment, high engagement games. It can be draining.

I think the problem is that perhaps Au still sees virtual worlds as "what the internet should become". I used to feel that way too. But now, well, they're just part of the internet. And a good part too. But the internet is far more than just a locus for 3d spaces.

ok...port forwarding is working...

Well I've got my diva distro running on my laptop right now. This sim is just for prototyping the artificial life, to be uploaded to supernatura when it's ready.

Until then, if I have it running, you can visit my craptastic minigrid at

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Starting over is a giant pain in the ass. Yet here I am again.

Since any readers I've had (and its doubtful I had any) are gone, the need to explain what's been going on is really perfunctory, and perhaps bit odd. In any case, if someone is out there, here's the deal: the Second Nature 3 simulator on Second Life is long dead, at least as a venue for artificial life research. But in the spirit of "the king is dead, long live the king", I am slowly reconstituting it on an OpenSim server, standalone, but you can visit it via hypergrid. As of right now I am simply rewriting some of the ancient code, and making the plants more intelligible.

First experiment: create cooperative plants, capable of coordinating anti-herbivore action as a group.

As soon as this is more or less working, the hyperlink to my standalone sim, SuperNatura, will be posted.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grants as demotivators

Having a grant rejected is a giant pain in the ass. More so when the rejecting institution fails to provide any feedback as to the problems and promise of the rejected approach. In any event, it also makes it hard to do the utterly necessary work of *applying for other grants*. I wish there was a better model for science than the medieval patronage model so many of us in academia work under. But there isn't, and the market-driven approach makes for shitty science. As such, one eats the pain and continues the slog.

*slogs back to work*