Interview with Karl Sims
by Second Part To Hell

	  ************                                      ***********
	  ************       Interview with Karl Sims       ***********
	  ************     by Second Part To Hell/[rRlf]    ***********
	  ************                                      ***********


  0) About Karl Sims

  1) The Interview

  0) About Karl Sims

     Karl Sims is a researcher formerly with the MIT Media Lab who is most well known for
     using genetic programming to evolve virtual creatures that competed in various simulated
       While working at Thinking Machines, he wrote a paper describing the virtual creatures 
     he created. They used an artificial neural network to process input from virtual sensors
     and act on virtual muscles between cuboid 'limbs'. The creatures were evolved to display
     multiple modes of water and land based movements such as swimming like a sea snake or fish.
     He has also done various pictures and videos using genetic algorithm, released at his page.

     His homepage:

  1) The Interview

   1.) Why have you started to do researchings in such an unusual topic
       as "artificial creatures" and "artificial evolution"?

   Two reasons:
   First, I think artificial evolution has the potential of creating 
   complex and interesting results that can surpass those invented or 
   designed by traditional methods.
   Second, I think simulations of the Darwinian process could help give 
   us a better understanding of natural evolution.

   2.) What is your definition of 'life' and which conditions are
       necessary for a living organism?

   I tend to avoid a specific definition of 'life'.  Things are what 
   they are whether you want to assign that word to them or not.

   3.) A highly interesting developement of "Virtual Creatures" is the
       near connection of artificial and biological results of evolution
       (swimming snake for example). What has been the most interesting
       developement in your opinion?

   I'm not sure, I'm afraid I'm not current on much of the recent work.

   4.) In "Virtual Creatures" you have used genetic algorithm for
       mutation. The biological evolution, in contrast, also uses point
       mutation, which also change the code behind the algorithm and leaded
       to that complex life as we can see it on our planet. Why have you
       desided to use genetic algorithm?

   I attempted to use a genetic language that was high level enough to 
   give interesting results with a reasonable chance, but was also not 
   bounded by a specific length or number of parameters.  Mutations 
   could alter, add, or subtract, from the "growth" instructions.  It 
   was not a typical genetic algorithm.

   5.) In 1990 you have released a video about "Panspermia", which is
       highly fascinating. Do you think such unusual kind of biological
       spreading could have been evolved in the universe?

   I think its possible.  If you accept life may have evolved on other 
   planets, why not between planets as well?

   6.) In 1986 Fred Cohen wrote in "Computer Viruses - Theory and
       Experiments" about the possibility of accidental development of
       artificial life due to software bugs. Could this thought come true in
       our modern world, which is "dominated" by computers?

   There are certainly many viruses that propagate using software bugs, 
   but I think they are currently more likely to start with human help 
   than by accident.

   7.) Several sources count computer viruses as first artificial life.
       What is your opinion about that statement and what do you think about
       harmless computer viruses, which have just been created for the
       purpose of existing?

   They can be interesting, but I don't personally consider them alive.

   8.) Are you interested in any other artificial creatures or evolution

   Sure, I'd be interested in any of them.

   9.) What do you expect about artificial life and evolution in future?

   I expect further mutations.

   10.) What are you doing recently? Do you have new researches?

   I founded a company, GenArts, Inc. which makes visual effects 
   software for the motion picture industry.  That, and my family, have 
   kept me busy lately and I haven't spent time on any artificial 
   evolution projects in awhile.

                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                                                    Second Part To Hell/[rRlf]
                                                    written in June 2006

                                                    ...surrealistic viruswriter...
                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

   PS: To be honest, I think answere 9 is sacastic :-)