Artificial Life VI

The Evolution of Complexity and the Value of Variability

Anil K Seth
Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, Sussex University, Brighton, BN1 9SB, UK


The thesis that environmental variability promotes the evolution of organism complexity is explored and illustrated, in two contexts. A co-evolutionary `iterated prisoner's dilemma' (IPD) ecology, populated by strategies determined by variable length genotypes, provides a quantitative demonstration, and an example from evolutionary robotics provides a more qualitative and naturalistic exploration. In the latter example, this thesis (henceforth the `environmental variability principle') is illustrated in real environments with organism complexity instantiated in real robots exhibiting relatively complex behaviours and neural dynamics.

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