Polyworld is an evolutionary environment with simulated physics that allows you create creatures that will evolve. The creatures are free form neural networks. It was created by Larry Yaeger. They will learn to find food, become or hunt prey and mate and have children. It is open source, code is available at Source Forge ( link below ) and it does have versions for Windows, Linux and OSX.
Although we have had great success solving toy problems in artificial environments evolved creatures in virtual environments haven’t found great success in solving real world problems yet.
PolyWorld is a computational ecology that I developed to explore issues in Artificial Life. Simulated organisms reproduce sexually, fight and kill and eat each other, eat the food that grows throughout the world, and either develop successful strategies for survival or die. An organism’s entire behavioral suite (move, turn, attack, eat, mate, light) is controlled by its neural network “brain”. Each brain’s architecture–it’s neural wiring diagram–is determined from its genetic code, in terms of number, size, and composition of neural clusters (excitatory and inhibitory neurons) and the types of connections between those clusters (connection density and topological mapping). Synaptic efficacy is modulated via Hebbian learning, so, in principle, the organisms have the ability to learn during the course of their lifetimes. The organisms perceive their world through a sense of vision, provided by a computer graphic rendering of the world from each organism’s point of view. The organisms’ physiologies are also encoded genetically, so both brain and body, and thus all components of behavior, evolve over multiple generations. A variety of “species”, with varying individual and group survival strategies have emerged in various simulations, displaying such complex ethological behaviors as swarming/flocking, foraging, and attack avoidance.” ( introduction to PolyWorld: Life in a new context ( link below ))