Sunday, February 6, 2011

GenePool



Jeffrey Ventrella's GenePool is pretty incredible.

The physics of movement is beautiful, the "genetic" material is satisfyingly crunchy, and the experience of watching tiny "dramas" unfold is far more fun than El-Fish, though it is similarly soothing and pleasant to watch. Bots experience different types of selective pressures: natural (dominated by the bots' ability to actually reach food), sexual (interestingly, the bots are by default attracted most to those which share their own colors, but this can be changed), and artificial (you can save a bot's genotype to disk and do stuff like drag them, or food around, to ensure their survival. I'm guilty of saving a few inept but charismatic ones this way). As far as I know, this is the only artificial life simulator to include sexual selection (maybe you know of others?)

Given that evolution can be a difficult concept for students to grasp, I can imagine great benefits from inviting them to watch it actually happen in a framework like this.

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