Life as an Algorithm
I just found an entire Tumblr dedicated to GIFs created from Conway’s Game of Life algorithm. If you know about Conway’s GoL, then you understand why this is so cool. If you don’t know about it, well …
It starts with a simple question: How do you model a collective? That could mean the population of a species in its habitat, or the dynamics of a swarm of bees, or the pattern of bacterial growth as a colony senses a food source. These are (relatively) simple problems to observe, but very difficult to predict or model.
Back in the 1970’s, John Conway was able to use these new-fangled things called “computers” to create self-replicating “cells” within a digital world. The user supplies a few rules (such as: how a cell survives or grows depending on its neighbors, the initial number of groups, the shape of the world, the starting density) and lets the algorithm do the rest.
It creates a dizzying array of interesting population dynamics, with implications from evolution to synthetic biology.
It’s self-replicating digital worlds such as these that have inspired the new science of swarms, in which scientists hope to unlock how groups lacking individual intelligence (fish schools, bird flocks, locust swarms) can act as superorganisms and exhibit complex behaviors.
An algorithm of emergence. Check out Game of Life Algorithms to see more.
I felt like destroying something beautiful.
Learn To Be Quiet
You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait,
just learn to be quiet, still and solitary.
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.