ALIFE 2018: A hybrid of ECAL and ALIFE

(The current website is a teaser and will be renewed at the beginning of November)

The ALIFE and ECAL conferences are the major meeting of the artificial life research community since 1987 and 1991, respectively. As a Hybrid of the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) and the International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE), the 2018 Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2018) will take place in outside both Europe and the US, in Miraikan, Tokyo, Japan, from July 23-27.

Call for special sessions
Call for workshops/tutorials

Theme: Beyond AI

The conference will be a stimulating home for all artificial life research areas and all artificial life researchers from around the world, with a special emphasis on encouraging communication and building bridges between the different research threads that make artificial life such an exciting field. Following in the tradition of recent artificial life conferences, the meeting will also have an overall theme that reflects the global nature of the first joint conference: Beyond AI, while we are happy to gather submissions from any topics related to ALife.

By comparison with 1987, when the first ALife conference took place, we now have computers that run a billion times faster and an ever-increasing volume of complex data generated by real-world living and non-living systems. These advances are a huge boost for artificial life, but also present a significant challenge: how to pursue ALife at scale. For example, if ALife researchers can access the spatial and temporal data from an entire cat brain or an entire city or an entire bacterial colony, what use can they make of it? If ALife researchers are able to model increasingly complex chemical networks or evolving populations or virtual worlds using compute resources that are very large and very fast, how can this be used effectively to shed more light on, e.g., the origin and evolution of life?

The absence of adequate theory, methodology, and epistemology for modern artificial life studies in the era of massive data is striking. In the artificial life community, we have tried to answer the ultimate question “ What is life?” by proposing many levels of abstraction from autopoiesis to Avida, and from Langton’s loops to Lambda calculus. However, the availability of massive real-world data has the potential to offer an important new avenue for ALife. This era of massive data is revealing that conventional approaches may not work well, and we are required to develop radical new concepts and analyses.

How to understand a system without traducing its complexity is a long-standing ambition within complex systems science, and is becoming an increasingly imperative and urgent message for science more generally. Artificial life approaches to this challenge need to be encouraged. An epistemology for a modern artificial life that can operate at scale and in partnership with data, but without sacrificing the complexity of the systems that we observe, has yet to be achieved.

By widening the focus of artificial life, the field can be a source of new technologies, concepts, methods, and models. What are the living technologies that we can conceive of by applying the concept of artificial life? How might we build a new way of understanding that bridges between simple idealized models and complex data-rich phenomena? What is the new philosophy in the era of massive data? We will have special sessions and discussions centered on new theory, new tools and new epistemology for data-rich artificial life, and will have a series of keynote speakers to address these questions.

Confirmed keynote speakers

  • Rodney Brooks (iRobot, MIT, USA)
  • Inman Harvey (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka University, Japan)
  • David Oreilly (Artist, USA)
  • Margaret Boden (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Kenneth O. Stanley (University of Central Florida, USA)

Dates and location

The conference is arranged at Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Odaiba, Tokyo Waterfront City lying on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, from July 23th to 27th.


Organizing committee

  • Takashi Ikegami. Professor at the University of Tokyo
  • Nathaniel Virgo, Assistant Professor at ELSI, Tokyo
  • Olaf Witkowski, Research Scientist at ELSI, Tokyo
  • Masahito Yamamoto. Professor at Hokkaido University
  • Hiroyuki Iizuka. Associate Professor at Hokkaido University
  • Mizuki Oka. Associate Professor at University of Tsukuba
  • Takaya Arita. Professor at Nagoya University
  • Reiji Suzuki. Associate Professor at Nagoya University
  • Seth Bullock. Professor at University of Bristol
  • Hiroki Sayama. Professor at Binghamton University


We will produce an open online proceedings in coordination with MIT Press. Extended versions of selected papers will be edited for a special issue of the Artificial Life journal on the theme Artificial Life Society. Special issues from the co-located workshops will be promoted.


ALIFE 2018 Organizing committee