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Cross Labs/Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan

Artificial Life studies the nature of the living state, by modeling and synthesizing living systems on Earth and beyond. Because this endeavour provides multidisciplinary understanding crucial for us to find our place within the Earth's ecosystems, it may in turn help us construct a positive and balanced continued future for the whole biosphere.


The purpose of this workshop is to discuss how Artificial Life research can benefit both human society and enhance the life of all organisms on the planet. How can our research make direct, concrete contributions towards the sustainability of Earth’s natural ecosystems? How can our research enhance human well-being, raise those living in hardship, and help people to shed disadvantage or difficulty? In short, how can Artificial Life be driven or applied purposefully for social and environmental good?


The aim for the workshop is the initiation of new means to encourage Artificial Life research towards sustained, positive impact with the potential to be felt beyond the field. This will be addressed via an open-ended discussion that begins to set objectives for consideration as end-goals, and for describing means by which progress towards the goals can be monitored or assessed.


We are planning a virtual workshop, divided in two rooms, so that as many participants as possible may come and chime in. The current idea is to have the themes of sessions defined on Trello board, following an unconference format. We may propose a fallback structure though, with 4 sessions: (1) theoretical tools and technologies to contribute to environmental issues and sustainability, (2) research in ALife for the benefit of society in terms of economic development, mobility and public safety, (3) the improvement of the quality of individual lives such as relating to health and wellness, and (4) open-ended discussion on concrete projects to preserve all forms of life, such as a dedicated ALife for Good award.


The workshop also plans to invite a few speakers to lead the discussions, with input on different important angles, including – but not limited to – representatives from the community, ALifers engaged in policy-making, ALifers from industry.


Lastly, we also plan to have the workshop connect with the AI industry, which has expressed a desire to connect further with the ALife field. We have already reached out to several players in the industry (namely AI companies: Cross Compass in Tokyo and ElementAI in Montréal) that may help in diverse ways, including sending participants to contribute to the workshop, and also offered some funding to invite relevant speakers. This seems to connect particularly well with the theme of ALIFE2020: “New Frontiers in AI: What can ALife offer AI?”.

ALife for Social and
Environmental Good

For Artificial Life Research that benefits All Life on Earth

Virtual workshop

at virtual ALIFE 2020 conference

Montréal, Canada

Wednesday July 15, 2020

(10:00 - 13:00 check your time zone)


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Olaf Witkowski

Cross Labs/Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan

Olaf is a research scientist at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He co-leads the Cross Research Institute (Cross Labs) at Cross Compass Ltd. which works on AI and the fundamental principles of intelligence. He is also a founding member of YHouse — a nonprofit transdisciplinary research institute focused on the study of awareness, artificial intelligence and complex systems. He received his PhD under Takashi Ikegami, from the Computer Science Department of the University of Tokyo. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Society for Artificial Life, was a program chair for the ALIFE 2018 conference ‘Beyond AI’, and has been organizing numerous meetings on AI and intelligence sciences in Brussels, Tokyo, and New York over the past 10 years. Olaf’s research tackles distributed intelligence in living systems and societies, employing the tools of artificial life, connectionist learning, and information theory, to reach a better understanding of the following triptych of complex phenomena: (1) the emergence of information flows that led to the origins of life, (2) the evolution of intelligence in the major evolutionary transitions, (3) the expansion of cooperation in the future of the Anthropocene.


Alan Dorin

Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Alan researches the ways in which technology assists discovery in the ecological sciences and in human creativity. Through his work in Artificial Life and ecological simulation, Alan explores the key attributes of organisms that enable them to live in complex environments. This knowledge is used to improve agriculture and horticulture, and to assist us in maintaining natural ecosystems. Alan promotes an understanding of the relationships between technology and human endeavour by nurturing curiosity and encouraging others to form their own bridges between disciplines.

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Julien Hubert

Progress Technologies, Tokyo, Japan

Julien is a senior researcher at Progress Technologies in Tokyo. He works on the project ShikAI whose aim is to restore the independence of visually impaired people through the development of technologies mixing AI with traditional engineering methods. Before joining Progress Technologies, Julien completed his PhD under the supervision of Professor Takashi Ikegami at the University of Tokyo. His main research interests are the evolution of cognition in embodied agents, especially learning and time perception in neural models without synaptic plasticity.

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Jitka Cejkova

University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Czech Republic

Jitka works as an associate professor at University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (Czech Republic), where she completed her MSc (2006) and PhD (2010) in Chemical Engineering. She has worked as a post-doctoral researcher at University of Trento in Italy (2015). She made two 3-month stays at the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) at University of Southern Denmark (2013) and Ikegami’s Lab at University of Tokyo (2017). She focuses on the investigation of organic droplets with life-like behavior and recently she proposed to call such droplets “liquid robots”. She is active in science communication both in the Czech Republic and abroad. She focuses primarily on popularization of research in the area of artificial life and the etymology of the word robot, which comes from Czech.

General chair of ALIFE 2021 conference in Prague.

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Steen Rasmussen

Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico, USA

Steen has for scientific focus to understand the creative forces in nature by using self-organization to engineer minimal living and intelligent processes. In his early career, he worked 20 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA (1988-2007, Alien of Extraordinary Abilities) contributing to a variety of interdisciplinary research programs and projects. He was part of the core group establishing the Artificial Life field in the late 80s and in the 90s he co-developed the Transportation Simulation System (TRANSIMS) implemented by the US Department of Transportation, integrated simulation frameworks for urban security systems. He also developed web-based disaster mitigation tools, which were deployed in Cerro Grande Wildfire, May 2000, where 20,000 people were evacuated, and he was part of the original Los Alamos team on Critical Infrastructure Protection, implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security after September 11, 2001. In 2004 he co-founded the European Center for Living Technology (ECLT) Venice, Italy, and late 2007 he returned to Denmark as Director of the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) at SDU. In 2009 he founded the Initiative for Science Society and Policy (ISSP), which together with SFI and the ECLT allows Rasmussen to explore how living and intelligent technologies change society and what it means to be human. He has consulted on science and technology issues for the European Commission, Danish Parliament, German Bundestag, US Congress, as well as businesses and NGOs. He was part of the Danish Government’s Data Ethics Expert Group in 2018.

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Manuel Baltieri

Riken CBS, Tokyo, Japan

Manuel received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Sussex in 2019, under the supervision of Christopher Buckley. During his Ph.D. he was also a visiting student at ELSI Origins of Life Network, Tokyo, Japan. After his Ph.D. he joined the Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex to work with Warrick Roseboom and Anil Seth. At the end of 2019, he then moved to RIKEN CBS (Centre for Brain Science) in Saitama, Japan, as a Royal Society - JSPS Postdoctoral research fellow. His research stands at the intersection of embodied cognitive science, artificial intelligence, probabilistic inference and control theory. His interests include agent-based modelling for minimal cognition, agency and agent-centric perspectives on uncertainty, action-perception loops and feedback control, enactive accounts of sensorimotor coupling in adaptive agents, and studies of the origins of life and their possible connections to theories of cognition.

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Antoine Pasquali

Cross Labs, Tokyo, Japan

Antoine leads technology and research at Cross Compass as Board Director and Director of Innovation. He is also co-founder and Director of Cross Labs, an initiative bridging the gap between industrial and academic research, by promoting fundamental and applied science in connection with technological needs of society. He trained in augmented reality through a European project (IST-1999-10202) at Thales Optronics, as well as in developmental robotics at two research labs, UCP with the CNRS in France in 2003-2004, and UGDIST (iCub robot) in Italy in 2005-2007. Focusing his research on the fundamental mechanisms of consciousness, he completed a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience with the FRS-FNRS in Belgium (ULB) in 2009, and a postdoc in neuroimaging (fMRI) with the JSPS in Japan (TODAI) in 2013. As leader of an applied research project for the food industry in 2009-2011, he obtained grants from the Territorial Collectivity of Corsica and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Throughout his career, Antoine has accumulated twenty years of experience in artificial intelligence ranging from fundamental research to industrial applications.



JULY 15, 2020

10:00 - 13:00 check your time zone

Propose a theme for the discussion on a Trello board!


+ 10:00 EDT Short 'unconference' introduction and forming "task force" teams
+ 10:45 Breakout session 1
+ 11:15 Break (15 min)
+ 11:30 Breakout session 2
+ 12:00 Break (15 min)
+ 12:15 Open-ended discussion + launch of A4G effort 2020-2021



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