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First published July 1 2016

Evolution of Heterogeneous Cellular Automata in Fluctuating Environments

David Medernach, Simon Carrignon, Ren Doursat, Taras Kowaliw, Jeannie Fitzgerald, and Conor Ryan

Abstract (Excerpt)

The importance of environmental fluctuations in the evolution of living organisms by natural selection has been widely noted by biologists and linked to many important characteristics of life such as modularity, plasticity, genotype size, mutation rate, learning, or epigenetic adaptations. In artificial-life simulations, however, environmental fluctuations are usually seen as a nuisance rather than an essential characteristic of evolution. HetCA is a heterogeneous cellular automata characterized by its ability to generate open-ended long-term evolution and evolutionary progress. In this paper, we propose to measure the impact of different types of environmental fluctuations in HetCA. Our results indicate that environmental changes induce mechanisms analogous to epigenetic adaptation or multilevel selection. This is particularly prevalent in two of the tested fluctuation schemes, which involve a round-robin inhibition of certain cell types, where phenotypic selection seems to occur.