We propose that the behavior of nonlinear media can be controlled automatically through evolutionary learning. By extension, forms of unconventional computing (viz., massively parallel nonlinear computers) can be realized by such an approach. In this initial study a light-sensitive subexcitable Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction in which a checkerboard image, composed of cells of varying light intensity projected onto the surface of a thin silica gel impregnated with a catalyst and indicator, is controlled using a learning classifier system. Pulses of wave fragments are injected into the checkerboard grid, resulting in rich spatiotemporal behavior, and a learning classifier system is shown to be able to direct the fragments to an arbitrary position through dynamic control of the light intensity within each cell in both simulated and real chemical systems. Similarly, a learning classifier system is shown to be able to control the electrical stimulation of cultured neuronal networks so that they display elementary learning. Results indicate that the learned stimulation protocols identify seemingly fundamental properties of in vitro neuronal networks. Use of another learning scheme presented in the literature confirms that such fundamental behavioral characteristics of a given network must be considered in training experiments.

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