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 subnatura.dyndns.org:9000. At some point I plan to make the implementation grid available 24-7).