Abstract

We introduce a spatial model of concentration dynamics that supports the emergence of spatiotemporal inhomogeneities that engage in metabolism–boundary co-construction. These configurations exhibit disintegration following some perturbations, and self-repair in response to others. We define robustness as a viable configuration's tendency to return to its prior configuration in response to perturbations, and plasticity as a viable configuration's tendency to change to other viable configurations. These properties are demonstrated and quantified in the model, allowing us to map a space of viable configurations and their possible transitions. Combining robustness and plasticity provides a measure of viability as the average expected survival time under ongoing perturbation, and allows us to measure how viability is affected as the configuration undergoes transitions. The framework introduced here is independent of the specific model we used, and is applicable for quantifying robustness, plasticity, and viability in any computational model of artificial life that demonstrates the conditions for viability that we promote.

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