Evolving Useful Objects


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The social spaces of online worlds thrive through object design and interaction. Carefully chosen object categories can usefully evolve through genetic algorithms, and user interaction analysis. Once a desired threshold is reached, the object can be distributed in-world, and in the future manifactured on-demand via 3d printing personal fabrication methods.

Talk held at CMP's Life 2.0 Summit on 21 September 2007, in Second Life.

Published in: Technology
  • Yes, Amit, I am working on the mp3 now, and should be ready in a day or so. Make sure to let me know if you like it when ready.
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  • any chance you could turn this into a slidecast...the slides look interesting but a voice over for this would be great
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  • For several years now the online world—including the traditional web—has achieved a great speed of change in proposing a series of more and more valuable functionalities for managing personal and professional relationships, and groups.

    Instead of concentrating on a single solution, if we look at the set of possible competing social networks, we realize that they compete for our attention, and it is the varying degree of our attention that makes them successful, not only through the data we provide to them daily.

    The same is true in online worlds, with the added value of built-in interaction and creativity.
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  • We can take advantage of the natural desire of Second Life communities for interaction, and creativity, seeding them with objects, which communicate their usage levels to a database, similarly to web pages communicating their visitor data via weblogs.

    Different groups receive variations on the objects, which then have to prove themselves, to survive to the next generation, by showing to be useful.

    Variations can be relative to shape, size, color, movement of components, means of interaction. The source of variation can be, depending on the nature of the parameter, a table of preset values, or, in case we want to change the functionalities of the objects as well, sets of algorithms.

    The definition of usefulness, our utility function, must also adapt to the nature of the object, to the realistic expectations of how, when, and how frequently a given object is used. This function is also not necessarily linear, since the specific community's adoption of the object, or even its dependency on it can change.

    Taking the best performing variations, and providing further changes in the successive cycle of seeding takes the entire process one step ahead, towards the goal of maximizing the utility function.

    Let's see a couple of examples, of objects being evolved on Vulcano!
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  • One of the most popular activities in Second Life is communication itself (of several kinds), so taking this activity as the subject of our experiments is natural.

    The button bar for meetings enables a participant as she listens to a speaker to show agreement, disagreement, not understanding, or asking to talk, via balloons over her head which are visible to all participants. The speaker's adaptation to these visual clues, changes the audience's reactions, and all of this is recorded, to make sure that better speakers have the chance to talk. At the end of the meeting a transcript, similar to the original soundtrack of chemical films, is available, only this time the symbols track the level of understanding among the participants, and let the group pinpoint problem areas in the collaboration.

    The 3d mind maps are an analogue of traditional bidimentional mind mapping software, and let a group collaborate through complex concept visualizations, where nodes, links, colors, shapes, all represent meaning, and where the various participants enrich their understanding of the subject matter through the common work of shaping the 3d mind map.

    In both cases the variations in the objects's nature and behavior can be analyzed, having a positive or negative impact on their use. In the case of the button bar, the frequency of the use of the visual clues during a meeting can be chosen as a value we want to maximize. In the case of the 3d mind map, not only the size of the map, but at what level of collaboration it has been designed, how eagerly the people part of the group intervene to add parts to the map themselves.

    These are naturally just two examples of the evolutionary approach, where much more further research is needed...
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  • Benvenuti al seminario sui mondi on-line
  • Evolving Useful Objects

    1. Evolving Useful Objects An Evolutionary Approach to Maximizing Object Utility <ul><ul><li>Life 2.0 Summit, 21 September 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>David Orban </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>www.davidorban.com </li></ul></ul>
    2. What are we going to talk about? <ul><li>Design spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Objects </li></ul><ul><li>Algorithms </li></ul><ul><li>Communities </li></ul><ul><li>Recursive analysis </li></ul>
    3. Objective of the presentation <ul><li>The social spaces of Second Life thrive through object design and interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>Carefully chosen object categories can usefully evolve through genetic algorithms, and user interaction analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>Open questions remain on how far the approach can go. </li></ul>
    4. Industrial design and production <ul><li>Ideas lead to models, to prototypes </li></ul><ul><li>Small focus groups precede mass production </li></ul><ul><li>Stock levels are guesswork </li></ul><ul><li>Inefficiency and waste at every stage </li></ul>
    5. Genetic algorithms evolve <ul><li>Bottom up approach </li></ul><ul><li>Automated seeding and testing </li></ul><ul><li>Dead branches don't matter </li></ul><ul><li>Goal emerges through constraints </li></ul>
    6. Social spaces gain center stage <ul><li>Web based solutions compete </li></ul><ul><li>Searching through the solution space </li></ul><ul><li>Using the resources of our time and voluntary efforts </li></ul><ul><li>Value in emerging properties </li></ul>
    7. Native creativity in Online Worlds <ul><li>Residents interact and experiment </li></ul><ul><li>Communities are vital if they are interactive </li></ul><ul><li>Every object is internet connected ...and now let's put it all together... </li></ul>
    8. Object evolution in Second Life <ul><li>Seed different groups with variants of objects </li></ul><ul><li>Measure usage levels, as indicators of satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>Cull, and Repeat! </li></ul><ul><li>Replication, Variation, Selection = Evolution </li></ul>
    9. Examples: button bar, 3D mind map <ul><li>Clarification </li></ul><ul><li>Moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Semantic Tracking </li></ul>
    10. Further research <ul><li>Finding ample classes of objects </li></ul><ul><li>Enlarging sample communities </li></ul><ul><li>Integrating functional change </li></ul><ul><li>Assuring scalability ...and now a big jump... </li></ul>
    11. Personal fabrication via 3D printers <ul><li>Setting a threshold in the utility function </li></ul><ul><li>Producing just valuable objects </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers become co-designers </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce inefficiency and waste </li></ul><ul><li>Save the world! </li></ul>
    12. Contact information <ul><li>David Orban </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.davidorban.com </li></ul><ul><li>Davidorban Agnon </li></ul><ul><li>Vulcano </li></ul><ul><li>Second Life </li></ul>
    13. Sources and thanks <ul><li>Thanks to: </li></ul><ul><li>Gianni Degli Antoni </li></ul><ul><li>Linden Lab </li></ul><ul><li>CMP Life 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><li>flickr </li></ul><ul><li>Images: </li></ul><ul><li>'star_trooper' </li></ul><ul><li>'Stig Nygaard' </li></ul><ul><li>'Gaetan Lee' </li></ul><ul><li>'wili_hybrid' </li></ul><ul><li>'ssh' </li></ul><ul><li>'chuckp' </li></ul><ul><li>'oskay' </li></ul><ul><li>fabathome </li></ul><ul><li>'extranoise' </li></ul><ul><li>'DanielKHC' </li></ul><ul><li>'who.int' </li></ul><ul><li>'ladigue_99' </li></ul><ul><li>'jurvetson' </li></ul>