by software artist Scott Draves. You may also follow me on google+ or twitter, buy art, or join me on facebook.

March 12, 2006

Jim Fournier on Electric Sheep

Jim Fournier co-founded PlaNetwork and now a founding partner of Eprida wrote this wonderful quote:
Electric sheep is not only the most visually rich and compellingly beautiful VJ graphics program I have seen, it is also one of the best examples of emergent collective intelligence arising out of a distributed peer-to-peer network. Sheep are systems theory made real—augmented electronic evolution where swarms of human preference and aesthetic discernment shape the evolution of the flock—just as humans have for millennia shaped the characteristics of our real sheep, and show dogs, and any other products of intentional breeding, these virtual flocks are shaped by the decisions of humans, now not individually, but in a constant flux of dynamic democratic negotiation. Real politic in America would do well if the electorate actually behaved as intelligently as these electronic sheep instead of the real sheep they/we seem to resemble.
I wonder sometimes about the "democracy" of the sheep. About a year ago I changed the genetic algorithm to use a logarithm of popularity to effect breeding instead of a linear relationship. Why? It was acting too winner-take-all, only the top rated sheep were reproducing. I felt like I had just instituted progressive taxation. I don't mean this as a claim to liberalness, or benificence because nobody kills more sheep than I do. And for all I know the run-away reproduction resulted from unrelated design flaw, and my solution was just a hack. I mean to suggest a question. If we can measure how well the GA is working (by counting the votes it receives) then perhaps we can compare different political systems. At least, assuming you're a sheep.

thank you jim. Posted by spot at March 12, 2006 02:45 AM

it's a pretty interesting question. Althought personally, I would have a bit of trepidation in undertaking such a thing, because what if the "results" weren't what I hoped for? What if a "dictatorship" provided flocks that were better than "democratic" flocks? Then again I suppose that's the thrill of putting it to the test. Posted by: Chris at March 12, 2006 04:54 PM
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