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On Self-Reproduction and Evolvability

Tim Taylor

Von Neumann’s architecture for self-reproducing, evolvable machines is described. From this starting point, a number of issues relating to self-reproduction and evolution are discussed. A summary is given of various arguments which have been put forward regarding the superiority of genetic reproduction over self-inspection methods. It is argued that programs in artificial life platforms such as Tierra reproduce genetically rather than by self-inspection (as has previously been claimed). However, the distinction is blurred because significant parts of the reproduction process in Tierran programs are implicitly encoded in the Tierran operating system. The desirable features of a structure suitable for acting as a seed for an open-ended evolutionary process are discussed. It is found that the properties of such a structure are somewhat different to those of programs in Tierra-like platforms. These analyses suggest ways in which the evolvability of individuals in artificial life platforms may be improved, and also point to a number of open questions.

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Taylor, T. (1999). On Self-Reproduction and Evolvability. In D. Floreano, J.-D. Nicoud, & F. Mondada (Eds.), Advances in Artificial Life. ECAL 1999 (pp. 94–103).


  title = {On Self-Reproduction and Evolvability},
  author = {Taylor, Tim},
  year = {1999},
  booktitle = {Advances in Artificial Life. ECAL 1999},
  series = {Lecture Notes in Computer Science},
  volume = {1674},
  pages = {94-103},
  editor = {Floreano, Dario and Nicoud, Jean-Daniel and Mondada, Francesco},
  doi = {10.1007/3-540-48304-7_15},
  publisher = {Springer},
  address = {Berlin},
  category = {conference},
  keywords = {selfrep, cosmos}
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