A digital ecosystem in a virtual world

Image from Bernd Helfert

A digital ecosystem consisting of virtual, evolving alife creatures which are interdependent with each other. A dataecology may contain entities which may be sentient, sapient or a mixture of the two. Some datacologies are based on, or resemble, biological ecologies of various types, other examples are like nothing in the natural world.

Datacologies are self-repairing and evolving programs designed with processes and feedback mechanisms which actively work to stabilize and protect the datacology against the dangers caused by malicious viruses, wasteful neighboring software or natural entropy in the computronium. Through the interaction between the a-lifes and their life processes a particular datacology may perform any type of function -- from data storing, to virus hunting, to hyper-spatial calculator. While most datacologies easily collapse if their environment is changed, they deal better with change than does hard code, which often folds as soon as even a single wrong variable pops up.

While a properly designed datacology is very stable, guidelines for creating datacologies abound on the net. Many an amateur has accidentally cooked up designs with unanticipated side effects. Poorly designed datacologies may gain virus-like traits or rise to sapience. There are even a few known cases of ill-watched datacologies ascending to transsapience (such as Gaia Engelbrech). For this reason some polities discourage or prohibit the use of datacologies.

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Development Notes
Text by Thorbørn Steen
Initially published on 19 July 2007.