Re: virus: Re: virtuality

Alex Williams (
Sat, 28 Dec 1996 22:01:03 -0500 (EST)

> made the fish look more realistic for fun. The point is that the
> discipline of alife is really not very far from the ability to run
> behavioural experiments on virtual fish that will tell us something
> about real fish.

Precisely; and, of course, there's the fact that you can do fun and
intriguing things in a virtual arena that nature didn't think of and
see the results, like `what if birds and fish spoke a common language?
What kind of cooperation/competition strategies might you see

Of course, first you have to accept that a lesser model of something
(ALife to real life, animals to humans) will tell you something about
the higher, which spurred this whole discussion on in the first place.

> This sounds like Craig Reynold's "boids". The same system was used
> to animate the virtual bats in the title sequence of the second(?)
> Batman movie. The model does indeed generate flocking behaviour
> that *appears* accurate, but the question is does that indicate that
> real birds somehow implement the same three simple rules in their
> nervous system? Last I heard that was still an open question.

That's the fellow's name; "byrds" was the latest implimentation of the
environment I saw, included obstacles and a couple more rules which
gave the flocks other aims than just to follow a pointer. Just fun to
play with.

Asking whether birds actually impliment the boids algorithm seems to
be akin to asking whether electrons really impliment Maxwell's
equations. Does it matter, if your interest is building a model?
Probably not. Is it possible to discover? Maybe, but to what end?
Unless you're researching the neurology of avian brains for its own
sake, the implimentation details may not be important.