To increase the evolvability of larger search spaces, several indirect encoding strategies have been proposed. Among these, multicellular developmental systems are believed to offer great potential for the evolution of general, scalable, and self-repairing organisms. We reinforce this view, presenting the results achieved by such a model and comparing it against direct encoding. Extra effort has been made to make this comparison both general and meaningful. Embryonal stages, a generic method showing increased evolvability and applicable to any developmental model, are introduced. Development with embryonal stages implements what we refer to as direct neutral complexification: direct genotype complexification by neutral duplication of expressed genes. The results show that, even for high-complexity evolutionary targets, the developmental model proves more scalable. The model also shows emergent self-repair, which is used to produce highly resilient organisms.

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