The University of Sussex

AI and A-Life: Never mind the blocksworld

Dave Cliff

This paper discusses the relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Artificial Live (A-Life). A-Life research addresses a wide range of phenomena, some of which have no obvious bearing on AI research. The work most relevant to AI is sufficiently coherent and distinct that it is best referred to by its own name: it is Adaptive Behaviour research which is most likely to have significant impact on issues traditionally studied in AI. Some motivations for adaptive behavior research are reviewed, and some of the differences between adaptive behavior and traditional AI are discussed. One significant feature of current adaptive behavior is a focus on relatively simple and specialised cognitive functions, an approach which invites unfavourable comparisons with the "blocksworld" simplified domains which were popular in AI research of the early 1970's. However, such comparisons usually overlook fundamental differences between the blocksworld-AI and Adaptive Behaviour approaches to issues of simplicity and specialisation.

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