Evolution in virtual worlds (Dr Tim Taylor)


Evolution in virtual worlds
Dr Tim Taylor (Goldsmiths, University of London)


According to the neo-Darwinist theory of evolution, the richness and complexity of biological life can be explained in terms of three fundamental processes: reproduction, heritable variation, and competition for limited resources leading to natural selection.

The beautiful simplicity of this picture raises the intriguing question: might it be possible to instil these processes into a virtual world, and, in so doing, to unleash an on-going evolutionary process which populates that world with a rich ecosystem of complex virtual organisms?  Attempts to do precisely this have a history almost as long as that of the modern digital computer itself.  I will review the current state of the art, and ask what obstacles remain on the way to realising this goal.

I am currently writing an book chapter on this topic for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Virtuality, and would welcome any comments, feedback and suggestions during the seminar.

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Associated people

Emma Hart
Director of CEC
+44 131 455 2783