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Steen Rasmussen

Steen Rasmussen is a Professor in Physics at the University of Southern Denmark, the Director of the Center for Fundamental Living Technologies (FLinT) and an External Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute New Mexico, USA.

Titles by This Editor

The switched sequence of the concepts "Simulation" and "Synthesis" in the title of the conference emphasizes some changes within the Alife community. The Alife XII submissions consist of a significantly higher fraction of wet Alife papers than at any earlier Alife conference. The submissions are also congruent with a clearer view in the broader scientific community on how we might create life either from scratch or through top-down design.

Significant progress has also been made for life-like robotics systems—for example, through the development of polymorphic robots, where simple self-assembly, self-replication, and complex collective behavior now have been obtained.

In general, these proceedings demonstrate more integration between wet, hard, soft, and mixed living systems both within the Alife community and across the broader scientific and technological landscapes. This is in part captured by the definition of emerging living technology which comprises all technological applications of living and life-like processes at all levels.

As the Alife community inches closer to an understanding of life as a physical process by constructing living processes, it is also increasingly assessing the technological implications of the ability to engineer systems, whose power is based on the core features of life: robustness, adaptation, self-repair, self-assembly, and self-replication, centralized and distributed intelligence, and evolution.

Bridging Nonliving and Living Matter

Protocells offers a comprehensive resource on current attempts to create simple forms of life from scratch in the laboratory. These minimal versions of cells, known as protocells, are entities with lifelike properties created from nonliving materials, and the book provides in-depth investigations of processes at the interface between nonliving and living matter. Chapters by experts in the field put this state-of-the-art research in the context of theory, laboratory work, and computer simulations on the components and properties of protocells. The book also provides perspectives on research in related areas and such broader societal issues as commercial applications and ethical considerations.

The book covers all major scientific approaches to creating minimal life, both in the laboratory and in simulation. It emphasizes the bottom-up view of physicists, chemists, and material scientists but also includes the molecular biologists' top-down approach and the origin-of-life perspective. The capacity to engineer living technology could have an enormous socioeconomic impact and could bring both good and ill. Protocells promises to be the essential reference for research on bottom-up assembly of life and living technology for years to come. It is written to be both resource and inspiration for scientists working in this exciting and important field and a definitive text for the interested layman.

Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Artificial Life

The term "artificial life" describes research into synthetic systems that possess some of the essential properties of life. This truly interdisciplinary field includes biologists, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, geneticists, and others. Artificial life may be viewed as an attempt to understand high-level behavior from low-level rules—for example, how the simple interactions between ants and their environment lead to complex trail-following behavior. An understanding of such relationships in particular systems can suggest novel solutions to complex real-world problems such as disease prevention, stock-market prediction, and data mining on the Internet.

Since their inception in 1987, the Artificial Life meetings have grown from small workshops to truly international conferences, reflecting the field's increasing appeal to researchers in all areas of science.