Cognitive feelings: Towards multi-disciplinary approaches for realizing artificial systems with cognitive capacities

organized by Jie Mei, Hiroki Kojima, Yuichi Yamashita, and Yukie Nagai

Artificial life aims to deepen our understanding of living systems, including their interactive, evolutionary, and adaptive aspects, through constructing artificial systems in chemical experiments, computer simulations, robots and so on. Although cross-disciplinary approaches in artificial intelligence, neuroscience and developmental robotics have been introduced, we have not fully achieved the emergence of intelligence and mind in artificial systems.

The goals of the workshop are to improve the plausibility of cognitive capacities of artificial living systems and propose a framework for exploring the origin, emergence and evolution of perception and emotions. We reinforce the role of cognitive feelings (i.e., feelings about one’s mental processes, encompassing senses of knowing, confidence, reality, and fluency, etc.) as an integrated component contributing to developmental individuality and diversity. We also recognize the difficulty in implementing (subjective) feelings in artificial systems which requires the differentiation whether these systems possess feelings or just behave as so.

For a comprehensive perspective on how individual- and population-level diversity in cognitive and behavioral capacities emerges, in this workshop, we encourage discussions on methods and findings in disciplines including but not limited to:

  • Robotics,
  • Computational and behavioral neuroscience,
  • Psychology,
  • Virtual/augmented reality, and
  • Artificial intelligence, etc.

Furthermore, we hope to broaden the established relationship between life and the “extended mind” by integrating cognitive and emotional components and focus the conversation on the key role of perception and emotions in advancing the implementation of artificial agents.


Alife for and from video games

organized by Andrea Fanti, Roberto Gallotta, and Lisa Soros

The intersection between Alife and video games is a rich one, albeit often not explored explicitly. While procedural content generation is a well-known application of nature-inspired algorithms, video games are also a perfect testbed for many other branches of Alife.

In fact, many Alife simulators could be seen as 0-player games, and they frequently lead to proper video games. This connection continually fosters an ever-increasing community of both researchers and gamers interested in the evolution of artificial life. There is also a long history of video games using Alife concepts as core game mechanics. The intersection between games and Alife provides a fruitful ecosystem for exploring concepts related to life-like phenomena such as adaptability, unpredictability, complexity, and open-endedness. On the other hand, games provide the Alife community with an ever-lasting series of possible problems, limited only by the human imagination, and resulting in powerful and engaging domains. Both Alife and video games clearly greatly benefit from each other.

The goal of this workshop is to gather and illustrate novel implementations, scientific studies, and demonstrations of nature-inspired algorithms and techniques for Alife in games and, similarly, scientific contributions to Alife employing video games.

Molecular Communication Approaches for wetware Artificial Life

organized by Pasquale Stano, Michael Barros, Malcom Egan, Murat Kuscu, Yutetsu Kuruma, and Tadashi Nakano

Recent advances in systems and synthetic biology constitute a basis for the realization of the wetware approach to Artificial Life (AL), in addition to hardware and software approaches. Developing AL systems in wetware domains requires the use of chemical and biological materials to construct tools, devices, and systems capable of displaying life-like behaviors such as growth, division, adaptation, plasticity, evolution, autonomy, and other bio-inspired patterns.

While thermodynamic and kinetic laws governing (bio)chemical processes provide a basis to attack the complex tasks of devising systems that significantly contribute to AL, it is also important to understand the organizational structure of AL systems. It is often noted that the governing principles of organizational structures rely on a characterization of information flow. As a consequence, it is natural to suspect that models and characterizations from information theory and communication theory will be useful in the study of organization in AL.

The combination of areas such as synthetic biology, systems chemistry, chemical reaction network theory, and chemical organization have already impacted AL, as is often reported within the AL community. On the other hand, the exploration of the so-called “bio-them-ICTs” (bio-chem-information and communication technologies), and the theories behind them, known as “Molecular Communications”, have received—to date—limited attention from the AL community.

The workshop Molecular Communication Approaches for Wetware Artificial Life aims to fill this gap, providing an arena for discussing how current interest in chemical information and chemical communication can converge with AL, especially in the context of synthetic biology and systems chemistry approaches. The field of Molecular Communications, recently developed from an engineering perspective, can provide valuable tools for achieving a higher degree of complexity in AL systems, including: (i) Synthetic/Artificial Cells or Protocells and their assemblies; and (ii) hybrid biological/artificial systems (e.g., Synthetic Cells that can communicate with biological cells; hardware/software microsystems interfaced to biological systems; networks made of both artificial and biological entities).

Some of the questions that we would like to address in this workshop are:

  • What are the principles and models of molecular information and communication in wetware AL systems? How can we measure and compare the information content and flow in such biochemical systems?
  • How can engineering of molecular communication enhance the functionality and complexity of AL systems?
  • How can we create synthetic/artificial cells or protocells that can communicate with each other or with natural cells using MC? What are the design principles and mechanisms for generating emergent behaviors in synthetic/artificial cell populations or networks towards AL?
  • How can we model and analyze the network structure and dynamics of artificial and biological components that communicate via MC? What are the effects of noise, interference, feedback, adaptation, evolution, etc. on network behavior?

CHEMALIFORMS III: The Third Workshop on Chemistry and Artificial Life Forms at ALIFE 2023

organized by Jitka Čejková, Richard Löffler, and Tan Phat Huynh

“CHEMALIFORMS III – the Third Workshop on Chemistry and Artificial Life Forms” is organized as a joint event with ALIFE Conference 2023 in Sapporo – Japan, 24th-28th July 2023.

The workshop will focus on life-like forms created in laboratory using chemical and biochemical materials.


  • Wet artificial life
  • Synthetic biology
  • Origin of life
  • Protocells
  • Droplets
  • Chemobrionics
  • Messy chemistry

The aim of the workshop is to bring together researchers interested in wet artificial life, namely chemists, physicists, biologists. Further, it is expected that computer scientists performing mathematical simulations of life-like phenomena in chemical systems and experts from robotic field that build the platforms for laboratory experiments automatization will participate as well.

Emerging Researchers in Artificial Life

organized by Federico Pigozzi, Abraham J. Leite, Imy Khan, Austin Ferguson, Fernando Rodriguez, and Richard Löffler

The scope of this workshop is to bring together as many emerging researchers as possible, offering a space to network and socialize. The organizers give an inclusive definition of “emerging researchers”: anybody seeing themselves as such fits into the category. These mostly include but are not limited to, Ph.D. students, Post-Doc researchers, and independent researchers.

The workshop will run in two separate sessions and receive four kinds of contributions:

Session A (90 minutes)

Informational session (15 minutes), about ERA and its activities.

Lightning talks, i.e., short presentations (5-10 minutes each, including questions) contributed on a voluntary basis. Speakers introduce themselves and their research activity; topics include but are not limited to, anything falling within the scope of the broader conference. The goal of a lightning talk is to put the spotlight on the speaker and to spread awareness about their research activity.

Invited talk from the recipient of the 2023 ISAL Student Prize (30 minutes, including questions).

Session B (60-90 minutes)

Academic karaoke, i.e., an academics-themed improvisational presentation (roughly 5-7 minutes each), contributed on a voluntary basis. Participants prove their banter skills by following a (random) ALife-related slideshow and improvising a presentation on top of them. The slideshow is a salad bowl of material presented at the broader conference.

Given the hybrid nature of this year’s conference, we plan both sessions as hybrid sessions. Submissions for talks will be open to both in-person and online attendees. Information on the volunteered talks will be collected on a publicly-available website.

SB-AI 8. What can Synthetic Biology offer to Artificial Intelligence? Strategies and Perspectives for Embodied Chemical Approaches to AI

organized by Luisa Damiano, Pasquale Stano, and Yutetsu Kuruma

In the sub-divisions of AI still dedicated to the synthetic modeling of natural cognition, front-line research targets patterns that are increasingly autonomous, adaptive and integrative, and intends to ground them in the structural features and the form(s) of organization characterizing biological systems – from unicellular systems to complex organisms and their (social) aggregates. Currently, this research horizon includes a multitude of bio-inspired lines of inquiry, sharing a ‘bottom-up’ approach – or, in other theoretical words, an ‘emergence by design’ approach – to the construction of artificial or synthetic systems that function and behave like biological systems.

The workshop SB-AI 7 intends to select original contributions related to this bio-inspired modeling of life and cognition, in its hard/soft/wet-ware or hybrid expressions. The primary aim is to promote the emergence of novel paradigms for AI, firmly grounded in SB and AL research, and capable of producing qualitative leaps into next generation of technological artifacts expressing adaptive, communicational, and integrative – “cognitive” – biological-like functions and behaviors.

  • How the synthetic approach to biology, in its software, wetware and hardware forms, provide AI with new, relevant insights for the advancement in the scientific understanding of natural cognition?
  • What’s the complexity threshold, the links, the rules, the topology, the forms, the boundaries of Artificial Life systems (chemical networks, synthetic cells and droplets, neural networks, swarm robotics, evolutionary agents, …) in order to display minimal adaptive, communicational, integrative – “cognitive” – functions/behaviors?
  • How to design Artificial Life systems in robotic, computer science, synthetic biology domains that allow AI emergence, and how the latter compares with the biological counterparts?

This workshop aims at bringing together contributions related to these and related questions, and investigating one or more aspects of the (possible/actual) relationships between the synthetic approach to biology and AI.

The Distributed Ghost: Cellular Automata, Distributed Dynamical Systems, and their applications to intelligence

organized by Stefano Nichele, Hiroki Sayama, Chrystopher Nehaniv, Eric Medvet, and Mario Pavone

Distributed dynamical systems such as Cellular Automata and Random Boolean Networks (and everything in between), have long been used as models to understand computation and self-replication in biology, morphogenesis, gene regulation, life-as-it-could-be, and the universe.

Such complex systems models have been extensively studied mathematically and experimentally in all their different variations, such as synchronous and asynchronous updates, dynamic automata networks that can grow and change their structure including components and interconnection topology, as well as their robustness.

In [1], A. Wuensche investigates the basins of attraction of cellular automata (CA) and random Boolean networks (RBN), and even suggests that they are The Ghost in the Machine.

Recent advances of such models, including continuous CA such as Lenia and neural-based CA, have been proposed as substrates to study the emergence of a more general intelligence [2, 3], thanks to their propensity to support properties such as self-organization, emergence, and open-endedness.

  • What can we learn from Cellular Automata and Distributed Dynamical System models about intelligence?
  • How can Cellular Automata and Distributed Dynamical System models be used to study the emergence of intelligence?

This workshop aims at bridging the gap between the ALife community working with CA and distributed dynamical systems, and the broader AI community interested in exploring concepts from complex systems/self-organization/artificial life for AI research and machine learning, including modular robotics such as voxel-based robots.

[1] Wuensche, A. (1994). The Ghost in the Machine: Basins of Attraction of Random Boolean Networks. Artificial Life III: SFI Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, vol. VII. Addison-Wesley.

[2] Hamon, G., Etcheverry, M., Chan, B. W. C., Moulin-Frier, C., & Oudeyer, P. Y. (2022). Learning sensorimotor agency in cellular automata.

[3] Gregor, K., & Besse, F. (2021). Self-organizing intelligent matter: A blueprint for an AI generating algorithm. arXiv preprint arXiv:2101.07627.

Values in the machine: AI Alignment and A-Life

organized by Simon McGregor, Rory Greig, and Chris Buckley

The workshop “Values in the machine: AI Alignment and ALife” at the ALIFE conference aims to introduce AI Alignment concepts to ALife researchers, and will bring together researchers from both fields; AI Alignment and A-Life, for discussion and cross-pollination of ideas. This workshop will complement the special session: “(In)Human Values and Artificial Agency”, which has a broader focus on all research at the intersection of AI Safety and Artificial Life.

ALife brings a unique and valuable perspective to the challenges set out by AI Alignment. This workshop will offer opportunities for networking and forming bridges between the two communities, and discussion of how ALife perspectives can contribute to Alignment research.