LONDON A team of European academics is set to take the computer simulation of artificial worlds further than it has been taken before and create a world of beings that can interact, evolve and learn. The researchers hope the computer-hosted beings will create their own language and pass it from "parents" to "children", even at the risk that the language may not be understood by their academic observers.
Computer software games such as The Sims, which create and populate an artificial world as a computer simulation, are very popular. But the European Union's NEW-TIES project is expected to have implications for the design of computer systems, for agent-based computer programming, for ambient intelligence systems, and for the study of linguistics and sociology.
The three-year NEW TIES project (new and emergent world models through individual, evolutionary and social learning) is being supported under the European Union's Sixth Framework Program (FP6) with 1.55 million euro (about $1.9 million) under the information society technologies (IST) part of FP6.
The project is being conducted by a consortium of researchers in artificial intelligence, language evolution, agent-based simulation and evolutionary computing, drawn from universities in the Netherlands, the U.K. and Hungary; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Universiteit Van Tilburg, in the Netherlands, Surrey and Napier Universities in U.K. and Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary.
The NEW TIES artificial beings behave independently within the overall computer simulation but differ from Sims characters by having the ability to learn and evolve, according to the consortium. Until now the computer processing power was not readily available to add this extra level of capability.
The objective of the research is to evolve a computer simulation of a society capable of understanding and exploring its environment by means of cooperation and interaction. So that they can survive, co-operate and prosper the artificial beings or 'agents' are being given the ability to develop a communication system or language, although it will be up to the agents themselves to develop the details of the language.