Google Research

Towards Large-Scale Simulations of Open-Ended Evolution in Continuous Cellular Automata

GECCO '23: Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, ACM (2023) (to appear)


Inspired by biological and cultural evolution, there have been many attempts to explore and elucidate the necessary conditions for open-endedness in artificial intelligence and artificial life. Using a continuous cellular automata called Lenia as the base system, we built large-scale evolutionary simulations using parallel computing framework JAX, in order to achieve the goal of never-ending evolution of self-organizing patterns. We report a number of system design choices, including (1) implicit implementation of genetic operators, such as reproduction by pattern self-replication and selection by differential existential success; (2) localization of genetic information; and (3) algorithms for dynamically maintenance of the localized genotypes and translation to phenotypes. Simulation results tend to go through a phase of diversity and creativity, gradually converge to domination by fast expanding patterns, presumably a optimal solution under the current design. Based on our experimentation, we propose several factors that may further facilitate open-ended evolution, such as virtual environment design, mass conservation, and energy constraints.

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