Karl Sims, 1994,  4:08
This video shows results from a research project involving simulated Darwinian evolutions of virtual block creatures. A population of several hundred creatures is created within a computer, and each creature is tested for their ability to perform a given task, such as the ability to swim in a simulated water environment, or locomote on a simulated land environment. Those creatures that are most successful at their task are selected for survival, and their virtual genes of coded growth instructions are copied, combined, and randomly mutated to make offspring for a new population. The new creatures are again tested, and some may be improvements on their parents. As this cycle of variation and selection continues, creatures with more and more successful behaviors can emerge. The creatures shown in this video are results from many independent simulations in which they were selected for swimming, walking, jumping, following, or competing for control of a green cube.
Software and Animation: Karl Sims
Narration: Eric Hansen, thanks to the Berlin VideoMath Festival
Thanks to: Gary Oberbrunner, Matt Fitzgibbon, & Lew Tucker
Hardware: Connection Machine CM-5
See also this episode of PBS Scientific American Frontiers: "Life's Big Questions" from 1994 which includes some additional footage, and Alan Alda discussing the project.
This video also shows Virtual Creature Bloopers with some outtakes in which unexpected methods of cheating were discovered.
For related technical publications, see:
"Evolving Virtual Creatures"
K.Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph '94 Proceedings), July 1994, pp.15-22.
"Evolving 3D Morphology and Behavior by Competition"
K.Sims, Artificial Life IV Proceedings, ed.by Brooks & Maes, MIT Press, 1994, pp.28-39.
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©1994, Karl Sims, All rights reserved.