Making a Self-Reproducing Cell in a Two-Dimensional Artificial Chemistry


Nobody knows how to make an artificial life system that undergoes the evolutionary growth of complexity. This is a shame because if we had a working model we could learn a lot about life and evolution through experiment.

An artificial chemistry is a simplification of real chemistry, designed to be much cheaper to simulate on computer.

In the talk I will show how it is possible to make a self-reproducing cell in an artificial chemistry by surrounding a replicating molecule with a semi-permeable membrane. The molecule can carry an arbitrary amount of information, encoded in a material form as a sequence of bases, as in DNA. The cells produce enzymes through a decoding of their base sequence, and these enzymes trigger reactions essential to the cell's survival.

The cells reliably reproduce over many generations under environmental pressure for resources. By creating cells in a material-based artificial chemistry we hope that the system might have the potential for open-ended, creative evolution.

This talk will also be given at ALife IX, so I'm looking for constructive (or destructive) comments.

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