31st July 2003 - Hidden Order

Today I read "Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity" by John H. Holland. This book is a very good introduction and guide to the development of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS).

Having worked with artificial intelligence before, including genetic algorithms, I found this book very useful indeed as it seeks to create a framework for CAS that is so general that it can be applied in a multitude of real life scenarios.

Essentially, the idea of CAS is to create a system with the four properties: aggregation, nonlinearity, flows and diversity. And the three mechanisms: tags, internal models and building blocks. Such a system will then be able to enhance itself against performance criteria using genetic algorithms, specifically crossover and mutation, to create new solutions that compete with the existing solutions.

In general Holland suggests that a CAS which has a multitude of simple agents is much more adaptive than a complex system which seeks to take more factors into account at design time. In other words, the aggregate of simple agents forms a complex system –much like an ant’s nest, which is highly adaptive, yet the task of the single ant might seem trivial.

This is a highly recommendable book if you like me share a passion for artificial intelligence; additionally it is inspiring just reading from someone who truly believes in the potential of this technology.

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Updated 2003-07-31

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The time frame for this well-informed and provocative speculation on relatively near-term and more distant potentials is clearly within mankind's grasp. Dr. Middelfart argues persuasively that within the next one or two decades, symbiotic links with "intelligent machines" will surely leverage people's potentials, far beyond all human progress to date!

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