Natural evolution gives the impression of leading to an open-ended process of increasing diversity and complexity. If our goal is to produce such open-endedness artificially, this suggests an approach driven by evolutionary metaphor. On the other hand, techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence are often considered too narrow to provide the sort of exploratory dynamics associated with evolution. In this article, we hope to bridge that gap by reviewing common barriers to open-endedness in the evolution-inspired approach and how they are dealt with in the evolutionary case—collapse of diversity, saturation of complexity, and failure to form new kinds of individuality. We then show how these problems map onto similar ones in the machine learning approach, and discuss how the same insights and solutions that alleviated those barriers in evolutionary approaches can be ported over. At the same time, the form these issues take in the machine learning formulation suggests new ways to analyze and resolve barriers to open-endedness. Ultimately, we hope to inspire researchers to be able to interchangeably use evolutionary and gradient-descent-based machine learning methods to approach the design and creation of open-ended systems.

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