The Planetary Bureau


Pond Intelligence


Alternatives to survival of the fittest

The primary goal of this project, apart from creating a homeostatic system as a testbed, is to explore alternate systems of survival as an alternative to the traditional predatory, survival of the fittest paradigm. The first step in doing so was to create a traditional ecosystem which would serve as a benchmark. The alternate systems of survival are phrased as questions, and the plan is continue asking questions of an ecosystem,

Q. Would a species survive better if it shared resources?

A. The answer to this might seem obvious, given that humans, as a species worked together as a community to evolve. However in the context of a simple ecosystem, with simple rules, does this still hold true? There’s no straightforward answer to this question, and in the simulations, the answer is both yes and no. When there is a scarcity of food, or when agents in a space where there isn’t enough food, sharing helps keep entities alive till more food is found. In a situation where there is an abundance of food, sharing can be detrimental, as it prevents the entities from having enough food to find a mate, reproduce and transfer their genes to the next generation.

This may sound philosophical, but the ecosystem has multiple answers to a question, one just needs to pay attention. The answers are definitely not binary, and the context for the answers does matter.

Q. Does it help to look after the environment?

A. A relevant question, given that humans are asking themselves the same question and realising that the answer is indeed yes. This is mirrored in the ecosystem as well. Entities can ‘take care’ of the environment by only eating older, mature plants, and leaving the younger plants to mature and reproduce. When entities do not pick and choose which plants they eat, they decimate entire clusters, leaving that particular section completely bare, and as a result any younger entities may not be able to survive till they find another cluster or wait for the plants to grow again. When entities pay attention to what they eat, enough plants in a cluster survive to continue reproducing and sustaining the cluster. Although the entities may not experience the same population explosion they have when they eat everything, in the longer run, they have a steadier growth rate, as compared to alternating highs and lows in the population count.