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Artificial Life

Winter 2009, Vol. 15, No. 1, Pages 21-28
(doi: 10.1162/artl.2009.15.1.15102)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Organic Builder: A Public Experiment in Artificial Chemistries and Self-Replication
Article PDF (1011.64 KB)

We describe some results submitted by users of the Organic Builder, a Java applet where the rules of an artificial chemistry can be chosen in order to achieve a desired behavior. Though it was initially intended as a set of challenges to be tackled as a game, the users experimented with the system far beyond this and discovered several novel forms of self-replicators. When searching for a system with certain properties such as self-replication, making the system accessible to the public through a Web site is an unusual but effective way of making scientific discoveries, credit for which must go to the users themselves for their tireless experimentation and innovation.