What’s holding artificial life back from open-ended evolution?

By Emily Dolson on 1 September, 2015 in Research / 3 Comments
What’s holding artificial life back from open-ended evolution?

At ECAL 2015, Tim Taylor, Mark Bedau, and Alastair Channon organized a fascinating workshop on Open-Ended Evolution, which I presented at (you can watch the video here, but this post will basically cover the same points). Several of us in the Devolab have been thinking about this topic for a while; below is a collection of our thoughts for the sake of continuing this discussion. The question of open-ended evolution emerged from a practical place: organisms and ecosystems in computational evolutionary systems were far less diverse, complex, and interesting than those that seen in nature. The people studying these systems were concerned that this was the result of a fundamental limitation to the systems (although some have also argued that this is just an issue of scale). They began characterizing the dynamics of these systems in […]

Science Blogs You Should Read

By Anya Vostinar on 25 August, 2015 in Information / 0 Comments
Science Blogs You Should Read

It probably comes as no surprise that I’m a fan of science blogs! When I first got interested in science communication though, I found it a bit difficult to find many that I wanted to read. There seems to be an air of not publicizing our blogs much because we should be spending our time on science instead. Therefore, here at the Devolab, we’re starting a blogroll page where we’ll keep a list of all the other science blogs we follow and when we add a few, we’ll probably post about them so you don’t forget to check the blogroll.

I’m not lazy, I’m thinking!

I’m not lazy, I’m thinking!

I’ve heard often as a graduate student that it is important to set aside time to think. However, it seems like all of us struggle with actually following that advice, especially early in our career. As I’ve finished taking classes and have a much more flexible schedule this summer, it is prime time for me to make sure I sit and think enough to plan out my dissertation. However, I’ve found a couple of things are making it rather difficult for me to actually purposefully do nothing but think and I suspect most of us run into these problems.

Have a useful conversation about work/life balance

By Emily Dolson on 11 August, 2015 in Work/Life Balance / 0 Comments
Have a useful conversation about work/life balance

It is a commonly acknowledged problem in academia that success often comes at the expense of having a life outside of work (or at least seems like it has to). As a result, there are many attempts to help academics improve their work/life balance. Unfortunately, these attempts often devolve into motivational platitudes and advice that most people have already heard. And understandably so – work/life balance is a tricky subject to confront! This difficulty results from the confluence of two major factors: Different people want different things out of their lives, so balance means different things to different people. These topics can be so personal that people often don’t feel comfortable discussing them in concrete terms.

An Introduction to Web Development with Emscripten

An Introduction to Web Development with Emscripten

As a professor, I am always trying to juggle more tasks than I can possibly handle, which means I usually end up focusing my time on “urgent” matters over things I find merely “important” or “satisfying”.  A bit over a year ago I started making sure that I take time to code every day (and am much happier for it).  A sizable majority of this time I’ve devoted to learning and using the Emscripten compiler. Emscripten compiles C or C++ code into high-efficiency JavaScript (using asm.js) that can run in any web browser, and is accelerated in newer browsers.  How efficient is it?  Well, in practice it tends to be half to two-thirds the speed of running a C++ application natively.  To put that in a more provocative way, it runs 8 to 10 times faster […]