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Maximizing the Adjacent Possible in Automata Chemistries

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JournalArtificial Life
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2015
DatePublished (current) - 17 Feb 2016
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)49-75
Early online date9/12/15
Original languageEnglish


Automata chemistries are good vehicles for experimentation in open-ended evolution, but they are by necessity complex systems whose low-level properties require careful design. To aid the process of designing automata chemistries, we develop an abstract model that classifies the features of a chemistry from a physical (bottom up) perspective and from a biological (top down) perspective. There are two levels: things that can evolve, and things that cannot. We equate the evolving level with biology and the non-evolving level with physics. We design our initial organisms in the biology, so they can evolve. We design the physics to facilitate evolvable biologies. This architecture leads to a set of design principles that should be observed when creating an instantiation of the architecture. These principles are Everything Evolves, Everything’s Soft, and Everything Dies. To evaluate these ideas, we present experiments in the recently developed Stringmol automata chemistry. We examine the properties of Stringmol with respect to the principles, and so demonstrate the usefulness of the principles in designing automata chemistries.

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© 2016, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


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