Conway’s game of life

This is my third attempt at spontaneous writing. Prior writing this, I decided to publish all three pieces if this one works out too.

I peer outside the train window, staring at the marvellous tree and fauna growths whirling by at high speed. These structures emerged as the result of nature’s long running optimisation problem, a more complex version of Conway’s game of life with a richer set of rules operating over a multidimensional playing field. How these rules emerged remains a hotly contested topic, and in particular whether the rule set came about with a goal in mind, so to speak, with all the assumptions that this carries forth.

Let us, however, move away from the ever so infinite domain of universal purpose, and closer towards a higher level of abstraction. Thinking from the personal or societal viewpoint is often much more interesting and rewarding. Why should we not use nature’s methods to our advantage? There is plenty of interesting work in this area, notably the methods of so-called genetic algorithms. Amongst other applications, they have been used to optimise circuit board layouts, minimising the distance that signals need to travel between components, and so forth. This to me seems to be a modest utilisation of this “technology”. We need not look further than at the forests, jungles, and other ecosystems, that have been, and continue to be, created organically, aided by none other than their own self perpetuity.

This to me seems to be a far more efficient method of large scale construction (think towns and cities) than the ones we use today. For various reasons our species has decided to ditch the free version of environment construction over time. It started with simple alterations to the environment, which included the derivation of tools from natural resources. This grew more advanced with the advent of farming and land terraforming, until humanity decided that nature’s frameworks simply won’t cut it and turned to full-fledged concrete cities. City building requires a lot of labour and even more ancillary human resources besides construction itself, such transportation.

Reading back through this, I can think of many holes to poke through my arguments. Construction is much less manual than it used to be. The design patterns of architecture, as it were, which provide a high degree of mass production and replication are likely prevalent and in heavy use, particularly for large constructions. As you probably have realised by this point, my knowledge on building and architecture technologies is moot. My most faithful argument is this: I want this to happen simply because it’s beautiful! I want humanity to engineer its own self-perpetuating city builders, much like plants do. I want us to master the elusive equations of chaos and bend them to our will.

3d printers seem to be a good step in that direction.


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