This special issue highlights key selections from the 2020 Conference on Artificial Life, which is the primary international meeting organized yearly by the International Society for Artificial Life ( The conference themes broadly address the synthesis and simulation of living systems, welcoming scientific research that either deepens our understanding of life as we know it or broadens our conception of life as it could be (Langton, 1989).

The 2020 conference, hosted by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Complex Systems Center, was originally intended to be held in Montréal, Québec, Canada. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced this event, like many others, to be held online. In truth, this challenge afforded a unique opportunity to hold a truly global conference, with 390 registered attendees from around the world.

Of 183 submissions, 75 articles (41%) were accepted for full presentations at the conference and published in the...

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