Field Guide to Artificial Life on the Web (2000)

Field Guide to Artificial Life on the Web looks at two major orders of weblife. The first is artificial life generated from computation. The second is the life seen live on webcam transmissions.

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Field Guide to Artificial Life on the Web looks at two major orders of weblife. The first is artificial life generated from computation. The second is the life seen live on webcam transmissions. Both orders depend on the electronic environment for their existence. The idea of artificial life is not new. It's prefigured in the myths of Pygmalion, the golem and Dr. Frankenstein's monster. Now programmers have evolved technologies that can realize this dream. Their artificial beings are made from strings of code that follow dedicated protocols. Creatures such as Boids and Floys appear on the screen as patterns that twitch and glide, blink and swarm. The most independent members of the group are computer viruses. These entities make their way through the web, reproducing and mutating as they go along. On the flip side of the binary coin are live webcam webcasts. These semi-random samples of ordinary life appear on the screen transformed by the mediations of electronic technology. Webcams remake reality into artificial life. In the myth of the Garden of Eden two trees are hived off for special consideration. When humans connected with the Tree of Knowledge, history began. What will happen when we get involved with the Tree of Life.

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