Thursday, February 25, 2010

SLPro Conference Day 3 Invasion!

Just down the road from my project is this collection of marvelous insects made with scupted prims...and they are flyable according to the menu options. But I guess you have to be the owner to fly them.

The Dragonfly is spectacular!

The builder by the way is Strat Inshan.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SLPro Conference Day 2

My humble entry into the Shared Media competition.

Don't expect to win the $L 10,000 but I had fun putting together a little chi square demo showing how Google's Spreadsheet can be used on a prim. The hard part was working around the limitations of Google's Spreadsheet.

Sorry Google, you may be taking over the world but you ought to spend some time improving your spread sheet especially protections. I can't believe your programmers couldn't figure out how to protect just part of a spreadsheet!

I finally figured out that I can protect my original spreadsheet and have people access it and copy it and just work with the copy.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SLPro Conference Day 1: A Rocky Start but...

The key note got off to a rocky start with most participants not able to get audio and video for much of the time. But the big announcment is SL's Viewer 2 which we get to preview! Looks like a cleaner interface and my impression is that Viewer 2 renders graphics more rapidly than the current viewer.

But what is really cool is the viewer's shared media feature. One thing that I and other "content devlopers" in Second Life have groused about is the inability to display interactive sorts of media such as, well web pages. With the current Second Life viewer the user can display a web page by replacing using the llLoadUrl function but you can't interact with it. But now you can.

After the keynote we got to play for example with a drawing program and we could all interact with it in real time even though it was displayed as a texture on a prim. If you use a web page as a texture you can not only see the web page but you can scroll through the web page and even open new links just as with a standard browser!

Ahhh but there is more. Currently when you display a web page it uses you're parcel media feature which means only one medium per parcel. So if you are a teacher and want to display say multiple web pages you can't have them all display at the same time unless you subdivide your parcel into smaller parcels. Now you can!

This is a big deal for SL content providers and really integrates SL with the web. I just had to try it and works as advertised. So this image shows two of my blogs on separate prim's and these are all on the same parcel. You can do the same thing with media such as Flash sites opening up a new potential for gaming in SL.

I have just started working with this feature so don't have more to say about it...but it looks like web on a prim is here finally. and I think it is really going to improve the immersive experience in Second Life. I can almost forgive the keynote glitches for this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NMC SL Pro Conference...

The NMC SL Pro conference begins tomorrow and I will be there in amongst my first life teaching and meetings so I think my laptop will be my special friend through Thursday. The focus is on hope to get some good tips. The schedule is here:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Selfish Herd: OpenSim Evolution Simulation II

Been a bit distracted by academics but this week worked a bit on my evolution simulation. First I put limits on my critters so that if they escape my parcel they die. Next I set up a controller that uses or at least attempts to use llGetParcelPrimCount in a timer event to count my organisms and kill them all if the population grows beyond a certain size.

The script is straightforward:

But the script does seem to update the prim count properly in OpenSim unless I touch the prim with the script. What's weird is that I have used a very similar script in SL and it updates fine.

The other thing I have been working on is the duplication script itself. I am using the basic script givenn in the LSL Wiki at this link.

This gives a pretty complete list of precautions if you want to make self replicating critters. So should you decide that you need some sort of self replicating critters pay real close attention lest you get the grey goo.

Right now I have the basic replication scheme worked into my code but right now the critters replicate only on a command from they are on a pretty tight leash. The picture accompanying this post is after 8 doublings from a single critter. My critter sensing prim did not pick up that there were more than 128 critters so it is good thing I am not letting these things replicate on their own! The critters remind me of a herd hence the Selfish Herd after W. D. Hamilton's famous paper: Geometry for the selfish herd. J. theor. Biol. 31:295-311.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

OpenSim Evolution Simulation I

This is the first progress report on what's going on with my OpenSim Artificial Life/Evolution simulation introduced in this post.

Since I am interested in social behavior I think a good place to start is simulating a population where prisoner's dilemma is operating. The term "game" here used in the game theoretic sense, gets its name from the following scenario:

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police lack enough evidence for a conviction. The prisoners are kept separate and the prosecutor visits each of them with the same deal. If one testifies (defects from the other) against the other, and the other remains silent (cooperates with the other prisoner), the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent (they cooperate with each other), each gets only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation.

(modified from

Now this scenario may not seem related to evolution but it turns out that this is exactly the sort of thing that happens when two animals related or not might have choices to cooperate or not with other animals either of the same species or sometimes other species.

A couple of design issues revolve around topics like how to link the organisms' behavor to genetics, represent the genetics of the interacting organisms and how to pass that genetics to offspring. To get a feel for the general strategy I have used in the past, go to this post.

One new technical issue is that unlike my genetics activities and my discrete generation evolution simulation, the organisms I am using here have to be able to replicate themselves independently of some command from me. Now that a scary thought since I don't want to over run a sim with thousands of little evolving critters.

Fortunately the LSL Wiki gives a good rundown on how to make non invasive self replicating critters. For instance have them be killed if they get out of your parcel. Right now my critters are able to detect the parcel boundary and turn away from the boundary....but I will add the kill feature as an additional safety.

One of LSL's safety features isn't going to work in my case. LSL recommends using a counter that is decremented by 1 each time an offspring is replicated from the parent. The value of the counter is passed as the integer parameter in the llRezObject function and when the counter reaches zero say after 10 generations the critter dies rather than replicating. The problem is that I use this parameter to pass the genetics from parent to offspring.

So I need to figure out how to prevent non invasive critters from over running my parcel. My first impulse was to have each critter sense the number of critters in the parcel and stop them from replicating when the parcel count gets to a certain point-kind of a parcel carrying capacity. And that might be a good idea but the simplest way to do it might be to have one object track the number of critters in in the parcel and periodically send that to all the critters using llRegionSay on a private channel and have the critters individually adjust their replication as required.

A more interesting option might be to use a sensor event to get the number of critters in a set radius around the sensing critter and use that to adjust the rate of reproduction, perhaps make it negative. So critters in a region with few others would be able to multiply more rapidly than those at higher densities. I already use a sensor event to let the critters detect each other so I could modify that to do this as well. This would actually be quite realistic since organism's reproductive rates are often affected by density dependent factors.

So here is what I am thinking on the replication issue:

1. Implement a die if beyond land owned by me along with my current boundary detection routine.
2. Implement a central controller that determines how many critters are in my region and either kills them all or stops them from reproducing further if they get too numerous beyond some large population size say 4,000.
3. Implement the sensor option to determine the density of critters and adjust the rate of local reproduction. Should be possible to tweek this so the population's maximum would tend to run at a lower limit than 4,000, say 2,000.

Maybe I am being paranoid but who knows what sort of chaotic things can happen with 2,000 artificial life forms run around a sim unchecked. It would be the equivalent of pythons in the Everglades and probably really annoy my neighbors.

This may be interesting in its own right as a simple population growth model even with out the complication of prisoner's dilemma! If you want to join the fun and see what's going on, IM me as Paul Decelles in ScienceSim or as Simone Gateaux in SL . Remember, you need to configure your client for OpenSim and set up a user account. Also Avatars do not port between SL and Opensim.

The ScienceSim site will get you started.: Make sure you read and follow the directions and rules carefully.

PS: SLurls don't work in OpenSim as far as I can tell but if you are in OpenSim I am in
Oregon North 47, 184, 23 in the ScienceSim grid.