Re: Evolving Art Objects (featured in Virtuosity)

Anders Sandberg (
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 12:30:21 +0200 (MET DST)

On Sat, 5 Oct 1996, Chris Hind wrote:

> In the movie Virtuosity which featured transhumanist and extropian ideas
> such as nanotechnology also included a computer where the designs would
> evolve by biofeedback. The example they showed was of a woman who would
> become more and more attractive by evolving according to the person's
> biofeedback. How easily could this form of evolving art be accomplished and
> also is there a personal absolute asthetic point?

I think it can be created now, from a technical standpoint. But it might
be harder to do something truly artistic with it.

One idea I have toyed with is to link a viewer (or preferably many
viewers) to the system with EEG, and show pictures generated using
genetic algorithms to them. Pictures that produce much alpha-waves
reproduce better and mutate, hopefully leading to pictures that are
relaxing and interesting (one could of course look at many applications,
including stimulating or truly awful pictures).

> Can something evolve and
> become more attractive forever or is their a hard limit on how attractive
> something can be?

Attractiveness is subjective and probably changes from second to second -
right now I would not be very interested in a gourmet dish (I've got a
cold) which I otherwise would have savored. In the same way, one could
probably produce something that was close to optimum in delight only if
one could monitor exactly what the viewer found delightful in realtime,
and that is hard. My guess is that it is possible to get close, but then
the art object would move into a strange attractor.

> And if there is a hard limit what would be it's reaction
> on you? Incapacitating?

Reminds me of Tipler's rather silly calculation of the psychological
impact of the ideal partner in (the omega-created) paradise. This partner
would be the global optimum of all partners, and would have around 100,000
times more impact than the most beautiful *existing* person in the world.
Tipler dryly points out that our nervous system probably won't take such
beauty and charm, but we would of course be able to extend it to handle
such rapture...

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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