Mark Ward

Virtual Organisms

The development of computers has naturally led to us comparing them with life, and attempting to model living things with computer programs. Cellular automata, such as John Conway's 'Game of Life', are an obvious example. In Virtual Organisms Mark Ward takes a look at this subject of Artificial Life - or ALife as it has become known. He describes current work in the area, such as genetic algorithms and the modelling of ecological systems. He also shows how other researchers have tried to avoid computers, and have created impressively lifelike robots using just simple electronics.

Its a few years since the book was published and its a fast moving subject, but this isn't as much of a problem as one might expect. At the start of the book Ward suggests that the book will be about ideas for the future of ALife, rather than summarising work done in the subject, but it turned out to be more about the latter. Ward is a journalist rather than an expert in the subject, and sometimes I got the feeling that he was putting together a book from what he had picked up at various ALife conferences over the years. But the book is easy to read and has plenty of interesting material.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 320 pages  
ISBN: 031226691X
Salesrank: 3031923
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2000 Thomas Dunne Books
Marketplace:New from $9.99:Used from $2.33
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 306 pages  
ISBN: 031226691X
Salesrank: 4262386
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2000 Thomas Dunne Books
Marketplace:New from £34.69:Used from £8.54
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 306 pages  
ISBN: 031226691X
Salesrank: 4027266
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2000 Thomas Dunne Books
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 37.02:Used from CDN$ 3.18
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
Harmless artificial life forms are on the loose on the Internet. Computer viruses and even robots are now able to evolve like their biological counterparts. Telecommunications companies are sending small packets of software to go forth and multiply to cope with ever-increasing telephone traffic. Protein-based computers are on the agenda, and a team in Japan is building an organic brain as clever as a kitten. Welcome to the startling world of Artificial Life.

Artificial Life scientists are taking inanimate materials such as computer software and robots and making them behave just like living organisms. In the process they are discovering much about what drives evolution and just what it means to say that something is alive. Virtual Organisms traces the origins of this field from the days when it was practiced by a few maverick scientists to the present and the current boom in Alife research.

Leading technology correspondent Mark Ward presents a fascinating survey of current ideas about the origins of life and the engines of evolution. Through interviews with leading developers of Artificial Life, and through his own compelling research, Ward shows how the convergence of technology with biology has enormous implications.

In an accessible, entertaining manner, Virtual Organisms reveals an unexplored avenue in predicting the future of Artificial Life , and whether new forms of Alife may be evolving beyond their designer's control.