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By developing artificial brains in synthetic landscapes we can elevate our understanding of human visual behaviours to another level.

To understand how the brain is shaped by experience, we need to know what that experience was. What is more, we need to create the language that describes how experience is literally represented in the architecture of the brain. These needs cannot be met by studying the human, or indeed any biological brain. What we must do instead is play god, by creating a new, synthetic world and then looking to see what happens as a result.

Using a combination of biology, mathematics and computer science we ‘evolve’ artificial life agents with artificial brains in synthetic, naturalesque ecologies. As god of these worlds, we have complete access to each agent’s genetic code, brain, environment and history. Only in this way will it be possible to explain in mathematical terms how networks (natural or artificial) are shaped by the statistics of their interaction. And by using mathematics in this way, our answers are independent of any specific system, and therefore speak as much to the artificial agents as to natural ones – including the human brain.


Mosaic world


A 2-D virtual landscape of colour where artificial life agents evolve to ‘eat’ colour.

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Mosaic world