[extropy-chat] Fwd: [EP_group] It's a Bot-Eat-Bot World By GiselaTelis

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Mar 28 00:54:43 UTC 2007

Pretty amazing, all right.  Amazing that the robotics have become
so advanced.

But was anything learned, or really achieved, that would not have
been arrived at in the usual A-Life simulations that have been 
going on so long?


>>Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 20:44:58 +0200 (CEST)
>>It's a Bot-Eat-Bot World
>>By Gisela Telis
>>ScienceNOW Daily News
>>22 February 2007
>>Alliances, deceptions, and even some shoving: It could be reality 
>>television, or it could be insect expert Laurent Keller's lab at the 
>>University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Keller and his interdisciplinary 
>>team of researchers have condensed thousands of years of evolution into a 
>>weeklong battle of the bots that demonstrates for the first time how 
>>social creatures evolve to communicate--and how, in a pinch, they evolve 
>>to deceive as well.
>>Experts disagree over exactly when and how communication arose among 
>>social animals. Evolutionary biologists suspect that early communication 
>>may have developed as a way for closely related individuals to boost each 
>>other's chances for survival. Studying such evolution in the lab is 
>>practically impossible, however, because most socially sophisticated 
>>creatures, such as bees or monkeys, can take hundreds of generations to 
>>show substantial behavioral changes.
>>Enter the s-bots, robots fated to live, reproduce, and die within 2 
>>minutes. Keller and company equipped these 15-centimeter-tall subjects 
>>with wheels, a camera, a ground sensor, and a virtual "genome"--a computer 
>>program that dictated their responses to their environment. Some of the 
>>robots also had blue lights they could turn on or off. The robots then 
>>entered a foraging environment consisting of a "food" source and a 
>>"poison" source. Robots that found food were "mated" with other successful 
>>robots: Their genomes were recombined into new programming for the next 
>>generation. Robots that didn't find food, or that found poison, saw their 
>>genomes vanish from the game.
>>In one set of experiments, robots entered the game as part of a larger 
>>colony. When most members of the colony found food, individuals from the 
>>entire group stood a good chance of having their genome make it to the 
>>next generation. In another set of experiments, it was every bot for itself.
>>During the course of 500 generations, or about a week, the robots evolved 
>>to use their blue lights to communicate. Some groups flashed them to tell 
>>others where the food was; other groups used them to warn of the presence 
>>of poison. As the tactic worked and the genomes of successful 
>>communicators survived, the robots became more and more efficient at foraging.
>>The researchers expected the lone bots to largely ignore each other. But 
>>they were surprised, says Sara Mitri, a graduate student involved in the 
>>experiment. Bots acting alone developed the same communication strategies, 
>>along with some strategies of deception. When surrounded by their kin, the 
>>incentive of trying to get their genome--or one similar to theirs--into 
>>the next round of the game kept the cooperation going. But when surrounded 
>>by "stranger" bots with dissimilar genomes, they flashed their blue lights 
>>far from food to sabotage the nonkin bots' chances for survival. "We did 
>>not expect that they would evolve such a sophisticated system of 
>>communication," says Keller. He says the results--presented online today 
>>in Current Biology--confirm that kinship and pressure to succeed as a 
>>group help give rise to social behavior, even the unsavory kind.
>>"I think this is really, really stunning," says Lee Dugatkin, an 
>>evolutionary biologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Using 
>>robots to understand the evolution of communication opens the door to 
>>testing more complicated aspects of social behavior, such as reciprocity, 
>>he adds. "It has tremendous potential ... to address all sorts of 
>>questions that haven't been answered yet."
>>Source: Science
>>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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