<b>COMPLEX SYSTEMS SEMINAR</b><br>Artificial Life, Open-Ended Evolution, and the Origins of Biological Complexity
Understanding the evolution of complex traits and behaviors has long been a challenge in evolutionary biology. Darwin himself recognized the difficulty of explaining the origins of traits of “extreme perfection and complication” such as the vertebrate eye, but provided profound insights into the process. I will discuss research where we study populations of digital organisms as they evolve new, complex traits in environments where they must perform mathematical functions to metabolize resources into additional CPU cycles. I will illustrate the accumulation of information that is ultimately used to encode target complex traits, and demonstrate that most of that information was already in the genome as part of simpler evolved traits. In the natural world, of course, many other factors are at play promoting diversity and complexity. I will explore how ecological interactions promote more rapid complexity growth (including co-evolution and competition for multiple limited resources), and explain the steps that we are taking in an attempt to build artificial life systems that are as rich and open-ended as the natural world.