Darwin@Home - News
New Scientist, January 15, 2005
(interview given by Bruce Damer on Monday, January 10, 2005)
SETI@HOME, the software that commandeers home computers' idle time to sift telescope data for signs of extraterrestrial life, will soon have another rival. Darwin@Home aims to recreate the evolution of life on Earth by evolving computer creatures.
It will be run by Biota.org, a California-based non-profit organisation devoted to biological inspiration in technology. It follows several projects that have developed computer-generated creatures. For instance, researchers generated virtual fish and selected those that swim best. The instructions for their growth were then copied, combined and mutated to evolve offspring that become increasingly like real fish.
Such technological evolution could also generate efficient software for pattern recognition, such as identifying faces, and that is one aim of Darwin@Home (www.darwinathome.org). Just as with SETI@home, you download software that runs like a screensaver when your computer is idle. But you'll be able to watch creatures growing, and even intervene by tweaking their properties or "mating" them with others.
The Biota.org team hopes to start testing a prototype of the Darwin@Home software around April, and the project should start in earnest by the end of the year.
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