The Post-Human Perspective of `Self´ by Extropia DaSilva (part II)

If we could anticipate what the extra element might be, we might be able to ‘expect the unexpected’ as it were. The minds of all SL residents developed in RL and so we tend to think in terms of what is allowable under the constraints we evolved to work with. Consider our avatars. At first glance they seem many and varied but on close inspection a great deal of anthropomorphism is going on.

I believe that our future online worlds will not be populated just by tourists from RL, but also by software lifeforms that are indigenous to the VR world. Given that their minds won’t be as conditioned to work with the rules imposed by RL as we are, I would expect these natives to be the ones that really exploit the novel possibilities of cyberspace. What bodies would such minds wish to dwell in? We have already used computers to conduct experiments in evolution by randomly generating software ‘creatures’ that must adapt to fit some pre-defined goal. Often, the winning designs appear quite bonkers to our eyes and yet quite sensible, given the novel conditions under which they evolved.

Karl Sims developed a software world in which creatures evolved to be as efficient at locomotion as possible. The winning design turned out to be very tall creatures that fell over. Stupid? No, because the rules of the system did not penalize vertical motion, nor was it specified how long that motion should be sustained. These creatures scored highly in terms of the amount of locomotion they achieved in a few seconds, even though ‘falling over’ isn’t really locomoting in any sustainable way. When the rules were re-written to favour sustained locomotion, the winning design was a creature that evolved to take advantage of a bug in the implimentation of conservation of momentum in the simulated physics. It moved along by beating its body with its limbs.

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