Student Presentations: Bruce Damer

“Background Works in virtual space”

The presentation will consist of a synopsis of work done and an overview of work in the future.

Overview of work over 10-15 years:
Avatars: 1990s – first space that users could use – talking circles, world maps, shared virtual worlds, virtual worlds for learning (elearning 3D), architectural design, business collaboration space in 98, 99 project with Russel Schweickart the astronaut – virtual walk on the moon; virtual worlds with autistic children – powerful medium to help disadvantaged people; avatars and fashion; own cyber doublet for i-pods – become digitally clothed with your own gears inspired by portrait of Sir John Harman’s Reneaissance garment (all on the cynerware site); NASA word on simulation of space flight and drivable rovers on the moon, human to land on asteroids; Avators conference – large-scale events in cyberspace and in real space; Avatars 2000 building scpace station from 2001 film; Biota company (Burgess Shale conference); Digibarn computer museum – collecting all the history of computers.
PhD work:
The EvoGrid: an Evolution Grid in Cyberspace. (Now can put a world in your webpage – launched 2 days ago by Google. ‘Library’)  Looking forward to the evolution in cyberspace.

Where the work came from: early life thinkers, scientists, science fiction writers, artists etc. – series of conferences.

What is artificial life? Video shown of evolving shapes – artificial evolution by Carl Sims.  Blocks connected by joints that can bend or twist, with nervous system – sensors: behaviour, with computers putting in mutations.
Recent work: Grey Thumbs Clubs across the world collaborating Simulated plant growth; Darwin at home (creatures learning movement etc); artificial life – ‘spore’ etc

Evogrid Broad: connecting existing A-life simulations to obsrve emergent behaviour. Sharing creatures, environments, etc

Evogrid Deep: Hoyle/Gordon’s “Origin of artificial life” simulation. Starting from “the void” and enabling a “cellular” structure and copying/mutation mechanism to emerge spontaneously.

Evogrid deep is the more profound question. The philosophical questions are huge: will biologist one day declare the environment “worthy of study”?  would an Evogrid and harnessing the power of evolution become a tool for the Humanities in the 21st century? Would it become a mecanism for life expanding in the solar system? And so on…

Research questions:
1. Frame the history, design issues, etc
2. Engaging a diverse community in the EvoGrid (Broad and Deep)
3. Encouraging someone to build it

Paleontologists enthusiastic about this – especially ‘trace fossils’

What are the limits of virtual worlds? Is it to do with the lack of dramatic structure? Role of structuring experience v construction of avatars.
A: sensor-based interface will make a different. Theatre and immersion production yet to come to 2nd Life – applying the theatrical skill set will make a huge difference.

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