Artificial Life - What is Artificial Life?

Thesis Research Paper

Master's Thesis, 2005
17 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 Abstract

2 Introduction

3 Historical, Theoretical & Cultural Context
3.1 Artificial Life and Crowd Simulation
3.1.1 What is Life?
3.1.2 What is Artificial Life?
3.1.3 Artificial Life versus Artificial Intelligence
3.1.4 History and Examples of Artificial Life
3.1.5 The Ethics of Artificial Life

4 Conclusion


List of Illustrations

„TERRAIN_01“ - an interactive artificial life installation, p. 6, (Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 351)

„Polyworld“ - an ecological simulator,

(Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 124)

Artificial Life in Robotics,

(Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 196)

Example for an „automata“: the duck of Vaucanson, p. 8, (Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 28)

Example for a cellular automaton,

(Adami 1998, 35)

Flocking „Boids“ by Craig Reynold,

(Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 50)

„Simlife“ an Artificial Life game,

(Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 110)

1 Abstract

My thesis research will be a detailed discussion of the topic Artificial Life and Crowd Simulation to illuminate the technical aspects of my thesis animation.

For my creative work it is especially important to focus on Crowd Si­mulation. But to understand this new technology it is unavoidable to understand the ideas behind it. The roots of Crowd Simulation lie in Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence. But what are Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence and what is the difference between these two topics? My thesis will deal with these questions and explore the dif­ferences and the thoughts Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence have in common. I will define and research the history of Artificial Life and its connected philosophical, moral and ethical questions.

2 Introduction

In the first year of my studies, I discovered a particular interest in Arti­ficial Life and especially Crowd Simulation. For this reason, my thesis is a narrative 3D animation with Crowd Simulation.

This research paper will discuss the historical, theoretical and cultural context of my creative work and offer a complete analysis of the con­nected topics. Especially, Artificial Life, that includes Crowd Simulati­on, will be the main focus of my research.

Artificial Life is still an innovative, pioneering discipline that offers many opportunities for new developments. In my opinion, human-created life-like behavior has yet to be fully realized in an artistic way. My thesis will explore the possibilities of this new technique in order to integrate artificial behavior in my thesis. I will approach this subject theoretically with an extensive research about the historical and philo­sophical context.

3 Historical, Theoretical & Cultural Context

3.1 Artificial Life and Crowd Simulation

3.1.1 What is Life?

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: „TERRAIN_01“ - an interactive artificial life installation (Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 351)

To understand what Artificial Life means, it is important to try to de­fine "life" in general. But therein lies the fundamental problem: there is no uniform definition of what life is. It is very difficult to distinguish the living from the nonliving state and to find properties that would be shared by all living systems, not only on Earth (Langton 2000). The different definitions of life that exist can only narrowly approach these elementary properties. This is because we only know one kind of life that has been available to study: the carbon-based life on Earth (Lang­ton in Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 25).

Ideally, we would like to study life in a controlled and isolated envi­ronment. Therefore, a good start to analyse and define life would be to construct the "... most simple system with what we consider to be important aspects of living systems ..." (Adami 1998, 4), such as capability of self-organization, emergence, autonomy, growth, develop­ment, reproduction, evolution, adaptation and responsiveness (Boden 1996, 1). Artificial Life is a way to understand life as we know it, but especially to find its principles independently from our known carbon-based life on Earth.

3.1.2 What is Artificial Life?

Artificial Life ("AL" or "Alife") is a term that describes the "research into human-made systems that possess some of the essential properties of life " (Adami and Brown 2000). This field of research is quite new and combines various disciplines as biology, computer science, philo­sophy, social sciences and art.

It is originally created by humans inside a computer or other artificial media to mimic and create behaviors such as flocking and mutation. Artificial Life provides therefore another approach to understand the complexity of natural life by breaking it down in simple rules and units and observing it in a stable, artificially created environment (Reingold and Nightingale 1999).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: „Polyworld“ - an ecological simulator (Gerbel and Weibel 1993, 124)


Excerpt out of 17 pages


Artificial Life - What is Artificial Life?
Thesis Research Paper
School of visual arts  (MFA Computer Art)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
951 KB
ALife, Artificial Life, Artificial Intelligence
Quote paper
Sabine Heller (Author), 2005, Artificial Life - What is Artificial Life?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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