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Special Sessions

Alife and Society


► Organisers: Alexandra Penn, Jesus Siqueiros, Olaf Witkowski, Alan Dorin, Erik Hom, Imran Khan, Andy Philippides

► Keywords: societal impact; environment; society; socio-ecological-technical systems; Anthropocene; policy; economics; real world applications; complex adaptive systems; philosophy of ALife; participatory modelling; ALife4Good 


Alife & Society is a meeting point for all in our community developing ALife’s potential to contribute to real world societal challenges. Showcasing real world ALife applications & learning, emerging ideas & new disciplinary connections with short talks & lively discussion

Artificial Perception


► Organisers: Lana Sinapayen, Eiji Watanabe, Sofian Audry

► Keywords: Artificial Perception, Illusion, Cognitive science, Evolutionary dynamics, Artificial Intelligence, Vision, Psychology, Computational neuroscience

In humans or other animals, perception is notoriously fallible. Perception is imprecise, and sometimes inaccurate in spectacular ways: auditory, tactile, or visual illusions. What can we learn from machines that fail like life does?

Bio-inspired Approaches for Modular Robotics

► Organisers: Giovanni Iacca, Eric Medvet, Stefano Nichele

► Keywords: robotics, modularity, bio-inspired, soft robots, tensegrity robots, evo-devo, reality gap, evolutionary robotics

Living systems are intrinsically modular. Modularity in robotics brings some challenges and opportunities. The BIAMR special session focuses on bio-inspired approaches to modular robotics, ranging from theoretical works to innovative applications. 

Complexity ALI[F|V]E: Socializing & Eco-integrating robots with living organisms 

► Organisers: Thomas Schmickl; Donato Romano; Ronald Thenius; Martin Grube

► Keywords: animal-robot interaction; organism-robot interaction; biohybrid; cyborg intelligence; ecology


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Organism-robot interaction is a novel field of science actively working for the emergence of biohybrid life. Our aim is to bring together the emerging community in this fascinating research field, coming from multiple disciplines, to facilitate the exchange of novel ideas, methodologies and concepts.

Hybrid Life IV:
Approaches to integrate biological, artificial and cognitive systems

► Organisers: Manuel Baltieri, Keisuke Suzuki, Hiroyuki Iizuka, Olaf Witkowski, Lana Sinapayen

► Keywords: hybrid systems, human machine interaction, bio-integrated robotics, augmented cognition, life-mind-continuity thesis, systems biology


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The session focuses on hybrid methods, theoretical contributions that can shed new light on concepts common across artificial/living/cognitive systems (agency, adaptation, etc.), and hybrid systems, where robotics and biology are combined to study areas in the cognitive domain.

Illusions of Self: Beyond Human, Animal and Robot

► Organisers: Olaf Witkowski, Elizaveta Solomonova, Thomas Doctor, Bill Duane

► Keywords: Self, illusions, sense of agency, consciousness, virtual reality, augmented intelligence, animal-robot interaction, enactivism, wisdom traditions, ethics


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Technologies akin to AI, VR and AR make it possible for selves to act in the world through virtual realities. This special session aims at fostering research contributions and discussions on the topic of illusions of self in natural and artificial agents–including humans, animals, and robots.


3rd International Workshop on Agent-Based Modelling for Human Behaviour

► Organisers: Soo Ling Lim, Peter J. Bentley

► Keywords: agent-based modelling, computer simulation, behavioural science, social science, psychology, evolutionary computation, computational social science, artificial life


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ABMHuB'21 brings together researchers who use agent-based models to understand human behaviour. Such models create realistic laboratories in order to understand complex human interaction and predict collective human behaviour. Application areas include cooperation, information flow, spread of diseases, economies.

(Accidental) art from life-like systems

► Organisers: Silvia Holler and Richard Löffler

► Keywords: Wet artificial life, Synthetic biology, AI, Life-like systems, Art, emotions, Anthropology, Protocell, Droplet, Chemobrionics and Agent based modelling.


We want to explore, present and discuss how ALIFE can give rise to art. Some life-like systems are able to trigger an emotional response in the observer and some Artificial systems can be trained to create/imitate art. We would like to discuss the mechanism of this discipline interconnection.

COST Chemobrionics Workshop

► Organisers: Jitka Čejková, Geoff Cooper, Erik Hughes, Tan Phat Huyn

► Keywords: Chemobrionics, Origin of life, Wet artificial life, Protocells, Messy chemistry, Chemical garden, Complex system, Nonlinear physics, Self-organization


Research on chemobrionics focuses on self-organizing precipitation processes, such as chemical gardens forming biomimetic micro- and nano-tubular forms. The main theme of the  workshop “Chemobrionics” will be to explore, quantify and understand non-equilibrium chemical systems, namely in the context of origin of life and artificial life.

Web Hackathon
Developing Artificial Life Web Resources as a Community

► Organiser: Emily Dolson

► Keywords: ISAL, web, hackathon, collaborative, website



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Come help us develop online resources about the field of Artificial Life. These resources will live on the ISAL website and help us all generate increased interest in the field, onboard new students more easily, facilitate the sharing of ALife software, and more!

ERA Workshop

Emerging Researchers in Artificial Life

► Organisers: Abe Leite, Kira Breithaupt, Austin Ferguson, Alex Lalejini, Josheta Srinivasan

► Keywords: lightning talks, multidisciplinary, networking, students, post-docs


Come meet fellow students and junior researchers in ALife. Share research at any stage in a fun lightning talk format, and take part in our wacky academic karaoke session. We will also feature an invited talk from an outstanding early-career researcher. Welcome to the community!

Lifelike Computing Systems Workshop 2021

► Organisers: Anthony Stein, Sven Tomforde, Jean Botev, Peter Lewis

► Keywords: self-x properties, self-organization, self-explainability, self-improvement, self-awareness, autonomous learning, resilience, flexibility, organic computing


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The LIFELIKE Computing Systems Workshop is intended to provide a forum for discussing new insights and implications from adopting Artificial Life principles to technical computing systems deployed to flexibly and robustly act in real-world environments.

The Fourth Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution

► Organisers: Mark Bedau, Norman Packard, Alastair Channon, Tim Taylor

► Keywords: Open-Ended Evolution, Open-Endedness, Novelty, Innovation, Complexity Growth, Semantic Evolution, Major transitions, Evolution of Evolvability, Optimization, Indefinite Scalability


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The Fourth Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution (OEE4) will include presentations and discussions on 1. important new results; 2. the main lessons learned and milestones achieved in the 2019 special issues on OEE and other important recent papers; and 3. the key challenges in OEE.

  Robots for Good:

A Special Edition of the ALife for Social and Environmental Good (A4G) Workshop

► Organisers: Olaf Witkowski, Alex Penn, Jesus Siqueiros, Imran Khan, Erik Hom, Alan Dorin, Andy Philippides

► Keywords: Future of automation, service to society, equality, mobility, public safety, industry, real world stakeholders, economic development, health and wellness, quality of life


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This special edition of the ALife for Good Workshop (A4G) connects ALife research with societal issues, focusing this year on automation for social and environmental good. A4G organizes a fast-paced forum to foster discussions and practical projects with key real world and industry stakeholders – in strong synergy with the AL&S special session which invites article contributions.


The Fifth Workshop on Social Learning and Cultural Evolution

► Organisers: James M. Borg, Simon Powers, Chris Marriott, Nathan Brooks, Peter Andras

► Keywords: Social Learning, Cultural Evolution, Socio-Technical Systems, Social Dynamics, Gene-Culture Coevolution 

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Culture is the second evolutionary system known to us; similar to genetic evolution but also distinct in its inheritance and dynamics. This workshop aims to address how the ALife community can uniquely contribute to the wider study of Cultural Evolution and Social Learning. 


The Fifth Workshop on Social Learning and Cultural Evolution

► Organisers: James M. Borg, Simon Powers, Chris Marriott, Nathan Brooks, Peter Andras

► Keywords: Social Learning, Cultural Evolution, Socio-Technical Systems, Social Dynamics, Gene-Culture Coevolution 

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Culture is the second evolutionary system known to us; similar to genetic evolution but also distinct in its inheritance and dynamics. This workshop aims to address how the ALife community can uniquely contribute to the wider study of Cultural Evolution and Social Learning. 

Synthetic Approaches to Biology and Artificial Intelligence: from R.U.R. to contemporary Artificial Life research

► Organisers: Luisa Damiano, Yutetsu Kuruma, Pasquale Stano

► Keywords: synthetic approach, synthetic biology, embodiment, philosophy of artificial life, cognition, autonomy, autopoiesis, hardware-software-wetware, (bio-inspired)robotics, cross-disciplinary dialogue

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The workshop intends to collect a series of original contributions related to the bio-inspired modeling of life and cognition, in its hard/soft/wet-ware or hybrid expressions, aiming to promote the emergence of novel paradigms for AI, firmly grounded in SB and AL research.


2nd International Workshop on Theoretical and Experimental Material Computing

► Organisers: Susan Stepney; Matt Dale; Simon O'Keefe; Angelika Sebald; Martin Trefzer

► Keywords: unconventional computing; soft robotics; material computing 

Material computing  exploits unconventional substrates and computational models.  It has a natural home in a variety of ALife areas, including unconventional and soft robotics.  TEMC 2020 will encompass a range of theoretical and experimental approaches to material computing.



Chair: Barbora Hudcova

►  Behavioral and Cognitive Robotics, an adaptive perspective

►  Cartesian Genetic Programming

►  Differentiable Self-Organisation

►  Gene Regulatory Networks: Computational Models in Contexts of  Morphogenesis and Evolution
►  Open Science Project with Lenia


Behavioral and Cognitive Robotics, an adaptive perspective

► Organiser: Stefano Nolfi

► Keywords: Evolutionary Robotics, Reinforcement Learning, Embodiment, Embodied Cognition, Behavior

The tutorial will illustrate how to develop autonomous robots displaying behavioral and cognitive skills through evolutionary and reinforcement learning methods. It focuses on model-free methods that enable the robots to develop their skills autonomously, from scratch, on the basis of a fitness or reward function that rate how well they are doing.

Cartesian Genetic Programming

► Organiser: Julian F. Miller

► Keywords: graph-based, genetic programming, evolutionary strategy, non-coding genes, address-based, neural networks, circuits, image processing, self-modifying

Cartesian Genetic Programming (CGP) is a well-known, respected and efficient automated problem solving technique. Many applications.


Differentiable Self-Organizing Systems

► Organisers: Alexander Mordvintsev, Ettore Randazzo, Eyvind Niklasson

► Keywords: self-organization, differentiable programming, cellular automata, reaction-diffusion


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Differentiable programming (aka Deep Learning) meets Artificial Life. We'll learn how to train various Self-Organizing Systems with back-propagation.

GRN Models

Gene Regulatory Networks: Computational Models in Contexts of Morphogenesis and Evolution

► Organisers: Anyela V Camargo, Jan T Kim

► Keywords: gene regulatory networks, morphogenesis, evolution, computational modelling, complex systems


The tutorial will briefly review the basics of gene regulatory networks (GRNs), give an overview of selected computational and mathematical approaches to GRN modelling, and discuss the interface of GRNs and morphogenesis.

Open Science Project with Lenia

► Organisers: Bert Chan, Will Cavendish

► Keywords: continuous cellular automata, virtual creatures, emergence, open-endedness


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Want to understand life & intelligence? Join our Open Science Lenia project, build online tools, share ideas+data, collab research on continuous CA and solve the 5 grand challenges — Turing completeness, emergent RL, swarm cognition, automated discovery, open-endedness.

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