Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Evolution, Language & SEX!

So I was sitting at home on a new interest. I've been playing with neural networks. Training them to perform different tasks and I've decided to make them have a "little fun" ;)

I've been using pygame and a neural network library written in C (converted completely to python, to which I'll create a python interface to the C code someday)

I've been playing with 'food' finding 'bugs' and evolved them to the point where they are so efficient at finding 'food', that they pretty much clear the screen quite quickly.

The next iteration I come up with was a "food" reservoir - reservoirs would be filled up with random numbers(amounts of food) the bugs that get there would feed off them decreasing the reservoir, when its zero it goes away and they move on. This behaviour was easy to get out of them as well, in fact its pretty easy to make any arbitrarily complex singular behaviour emerge.

But I stepped it up a notch, I added a output signal called ping, and ping will trigger an input reciever on anyone who is in range.

I was hoping to get them to eventually realize they can telling other bugs where food is. I realized how amazingly complex it is to derive this behavior. No matter what I tried, short of forcing them to realize the benefit of this behaviour, actually made them work together.

See they babble at random moments or just constantly "yell" or are silent. They just ping people willy nilly, or produce a constant on or off ping - and the converse then is true, since they hear stuff in that same fashion, they have yet to actually try to communicate.

It makes you wonder how the hell humans evolved this behavior in the first place. Imagine a random noise, but not realizing that you need to connect that noise to a pattern, since there is no pattern, there is no purpose in integrating it. It never becomes important and is completely ignored. Listeners ignore thier ears and talkers ignore their mouths. Its almost impossible to make this pattern show up on its own. Well save for one idea.

I was discussing this with a co-worker and jocularly I mentioned enforcing patterns based on using sex, and then it hit me. Communities that work together "play" together. If you look at nature, communication only happens within species that are coital. It might be the most rudimentary communication, maybe a scent or secretion that says "lets reproduce" but when you get down to it seems to actually hold true. Which makes me ponder if language is a side effect of needing to attract mates.

This made me chuckle. I mean, I realize it the one thing as a man that pretty much concerns us all unilaterally - the ability to woo a women with words alone! We all worry about our physical appearance and our ability to "perform". But the one thing that worries us most is if we can just impress them! We all know that once they are at least impressed with you, as long as you aren't horrible in the other areas - most those issues aren't important. The converse is true as well, it doesn't matter how great you are, in any particular physical areas - if you can't at least be basically cordial you'll loose out.

Ah the insights to human nature that software developers can discover, whilst making programs that screw.

So tonight, I'm putting on the Barry Manilow, and turning the lights down, and teaching a neural network to learn how to mate. This could take a while :P

Also, does anyone have an idea on what the simplest sexual creature is, are there any bacteria that mate?

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