Virtual Life: Virtual Pets, Virtual
People, and Artificial Life Ecosystems
What is Virtual Life?
Virtual life is the
computer simulation of life. Instead of flesh and bones,
the creatures are made up of algorithms and bytes. Many
different aspects of virtual life exist. Some of these
include virtual pets, virtual people, and artificial life
ecosystems. Depending on the particular simulation, these
virtual life creatures are capable of learning, eating,
reproducing, evolving, and even carrying on a dialogue
Virtual pets are one aspect of virtual life. These
virtual pets can learn, and often times even simulate
emotions such as hunger, anger, fear, happiness, and
love. The Tamagotchi keychain is an example of a virtual
pet. It requires food and nuturing - lack of can kill it.
Virtual people are another aspect of virtual life.
These virtual people also simulate emotions. The Sims is
an example of virtual people; these virtual people
require food and rest, and develop emotional bonds with
each other. Sometimes, as in The Sims Online, these
virtual people can even have virtual pets of their own.
Artificial Life Ecosystems
Artificial life ecosystems are another aspect of
virtual life. Frequently, the artificial/virtual life in
these ecosystems compete with each other for food and
mates, and due to this competition successive generations
evolve to become more 'fit' than their predecessors. This
evolution of the artificial/virtual life organisms can
involve both their morphology (form) and neurons
Virtual life has a strong grounding in artificial
intelligence. The neural networks in artificial
intelligence is what gives your virtual pet dog Fido the
ability to learn over time. The path searching algorithms
of artificial intelligence is what gives the
artificial/virtual life organisms on your screen saver
the ability to traverse through their surroundings. And
the language parsing and speech synthesis of artificial
intelligence is what gives your virtual life friend Suzie
the ability to talk with you.