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An investigation of the development of simple artificial ecosystems. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

There are some that say life is an entity of unparalleled complexity. If you believe the words of George Dyson (Darwin among the machines, 1998), machines are the next evolutionary step. However you wish to interpret it, as science has developed, some basic rules of existence and the way that living things progress based on their surroundings has been developed. This enables us to understand the effect that we as humans have on our environment, and prevent ecological tragedies from happening, as well as teaching our children to be environmentally responsible adults in the future. The purpose of this investigation is to develop a very simple model of an ecosystem for the purposes of demonstration to secondary school pupils based on just three creatures, but the principles behind it translate into a wide number of other areas. There are those that say life itself does not follow logical principles, but few would doubt that ecology does undoubtedly operate as a balanced system. I hope by looking at this problem I can illustrate the rules that machines find easy, and the nuances of life that a digital system struggles with, helping us gain a greater understanding of just what we really know, and the grey areas that black and white, on/off technology struggles to effectively interpret.

One of the first steps we must take to understanding the problem we are looking at is to examine the living entities involved, and their relationship to one another, enabling a clear picture of how the system works together.

I have to say though that I would agree with the arguments put forward for instantiated entities rather than closed system concepts being used as a model for the system. Animals are individual and having varying patterns of behaviour. This would not be effectively mimicked by treating animals as a mass that simply increases/decreases in numbers.

One point that must be made of the achievements of this project however is that its founding principles and architecture work to the concepts of Darwinian evolutionary theory and, many of the ideas implemented are accurate and translatable to real life. That they may not match precisely the shifts of reality is not necessarily relevant, as the adjustments could be made on an iterative basis based on known science. The fact is this is an ecosystem within a digital system acting to a logical pattern. The question is, whether life is logical, or whether we are actually trying to force logic on life.

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