Have you ever worked with ANY program involving evolution? They all take hours at best, weeks at worst, just to run long enough to get interesting results, let alone to develop.
Way back I used to play with SodaConstructor, an applet where you make 2D moving creatures out of springs and muscles (which are springs that expand and contract according to a sine wave) joined at the ends. A related applet was SodaRace, where you built a track for these creatures to race on, and tried to build the one that got to the end the fastest. Someone made a program that took a creature and randomly varied various aspects of its construction, put a bunch of these mutants on a track, and raced them, picking the fastest ones and repeating this in a process of evolution. It took hours just to get something remotely interesting, and days to come up with a maybe kinda cool result.
Same story for a bunch of life simulators that I’ve tried that you can google for. Usually the story is I run it, see a bunch of weird creatures move around randomly being stupid, and maybe if I leave it running overnight the next day I’ll see a bunch of one creature that moves around randomly, in a way that happens to not consistently lead to death. It’s watching paint dry.
There are several problems with simulating evolution:
- It’s hard to come up with a digital environment that will support interesting evolution mechanics without simulating the trillions of atoms and chemical interactions that evolution has to work with. An arbitrary digital environment like a SodaConstructor applet will always have quirks that mean the most efficient creatures – the one most likely to be selected – also use the cheapest tricks and tactics, which includes bugs and glitches if there are any. Evolution will by definition test the very limits of its environment, so the tiniest glitch or imbalance in your simulation will completely throw off the quality of the results, if you ever get any.
- No one has yet devised an evolution algorithm that knows which mutations are likely to be effective, so random evolution goes at a snail’s pace. Of course, which mutations will be effective depends entirely on the environment; for complex environments there might never be an algorithm any more efficient than Real Life(tm). This compounds the problem of making a suitable environment in the first place, because it means it could take days between test cycles developing a system that’s already extraordinarily complex.
- The results are boring. It’s just the same kind of life (or computer programs) that we already see all around us, except inefficient, inelegant, and ugly, because of their primitive and largely random nature.
Evolution as a theme isn’t necessarily bad. There are other perfectly valid, doable interpretations of it. I’m just saying, if you voted for Evolution thinking you were gonna make an evolution sim, please reconsider.