AI: Charles Ofria/Michigan State University Life in the Machine: The Evolution of Novel Complexity in Digital Organisms ACES 2.402

Contact Name: 
Jenna Whitney
Nov 29, 2006 2:00pm - 3:00pm

There is a signup schedule for this event.

Type of Talk:

Speaker Name: Charles Ofria

Speaker Affiliation: Michi

gan State University

Date: Wednesday November 29 2006


t Time: 2:00p.m.

Location: ACES 2.402

Host: Risto Miikkula


Talk Title: Life in the Machine: The Evolution of Novel Comple

xity in Digital Organisms

Talk Abstract:
When Darwin first propos

ed his theory of evolution by natural selection he realized that it had a

problem explaining the origins of traits of extreme perfection and complica

tion such as the vertebrate eye. Over the years critics of Darwin''s theor

y have latched onto this perceived flaw as proof that Darwinian evolution i

s impossible. In anticipation of this issue Darwin described the perfect d

ata needed to understanding this process but lamented that such data are s

carcely ever possible to obtain. In this talk I will discuss research wher

e we use digital organisms (populations of self-replicating and evolving co

mputer programs) to elucidate the process
by which new highly-complex

traits arise drawing inspiration directly from Darwin''s wistful thinking

and hypotheses. I will also explore some of the implications of this resear

ch to other aspects of evolutionary biology and new ways that these evoluti

onary principles can be applied toward solving computational problems.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Charles Ofria is an assistant professor at Michigan
State University in the Computer Science Department and the Ecology Evolu

tionary Biology and Behavior Program. He has a heavily multidisciplinary b

ackground receiving a PhD from the Computation and Neural Systems departme

nt at Caltech under physicist Chris Adami then doing a postdoc for three y

ears in the Microbial Ecology program at MSU under biologist Richard Lenski

. He is now the director of the MSU Digital Evolution Lab a multidisciplin

ary group using digital organisms to answer fundamental questions in evolut

ionary biology and harnessing the results to solve more applied computation

al problems. Please see for more information.