the blimps are alive

those who follow the story of the blimps know that the grid is a very dangerous place.

some parcels are full. some parcels have scripts turned off. some parcels have owners who viciously murder the blimps.

each of these perils (and others) kill the blimps in their tracks. to compensate, the blimps reproduce themselves when their numbers get low.

but it remains a problem. i’ve spent the last three months (off and on) hand tweaking the blimps to try to avoid these dangers.

well i just realized i’ve been being silly. there is a much better way.

natural selection. evolution. artificial life.

as of today, each blimp has its own genetic material. each gene codes some behavior of the blimp. one gene specifies the color of the balloons. another gene (set) specifies position in the flock. yet more code for sinusoidal variations in position (a Fourier series, as Seifert points out.)

blimps who (by chance) wander into dangerous areas will die, and their genes will disappear from the gene pool. blimps who (by chance) avoid danger will reproduce more often, and their genes will dominate the gene pool.

the blimps will “learn” to avoid danger. they evolve. by some definitions, they are alive.

you have no idea how happy this makes me.

there is of course much more work to do. sexual reproduction is important. many more genes for coding behavoir. perhaps genes to form a brain (neural net? symbolic engine?) that uses sensors and listens to affect its movement. genetic algorithm tricks i’ve been dying to try. and more and more.

for the curious – check out the course notes from a genetic algorithms class i once taught.

as always, you may catch a ride on the blimps by stopping at the blimpco blimp bay.

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