Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do computers dream of electric sheep?

Electric Sheep is a beautiful ,continually evolving, animation project started by Scott Draves a.k.a. Spot. Man and machine work together to create a form of artificial life. Electric Sheep is a software that can be installed on any PC or MAC and nowadays Android or iPhone, which starts once the computer goes to sleep mode. At that point computer connects to Electric Sheep server and works along with other participating user's computers from all over Internet, to help create complex rendered animations - screensavers called "sheep". Each computer actually renders one frame of information and sends it back to the server so the sheep is created using all these different information- small dots which form an image. Human participants decide on survival of "sheep" by voting for their favorite screensavers. This way more popular sheep live longer and thus, they get a chance to reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutations and cross-overs.

Electric Sheep - Generation 244 - Sheep 59383, 

 birth: Wed Feb 15 06:29:31 2012

death: Thu Feb 23 02:20:32 2012

Electric Sheep - Generation 244 - Sheep 23705,

birth: Sat Oct 30 07:42:11 2010

   death: Sun Nov 14 02:20:22 2010

Electric Sheep - Generation 244 - Sheep 80628,

  birth: Thu Oct 31 13:45:32 2013

death: Fri Nov 8 09:17:22 2013

I love the fact that Scott Draves decided to give up control and let things develop by chance. He admits that most of the popular sheep isn't aesthetically pleasing to him because usually flashy, brightly colored sheep get the most votes. But still, he doesn't force it to follow his aesthetics which is really something to admire because it's so hard to do that. For the purposes of satisfying his own aesthetics, he started a new project, the less popular one, called "Dreams in High Fidelity" which is practically the limited edition of Electric Sheep that he curates.

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