We describe the content and outcomes of the First Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution: Recent Progress and Future Milestones (OEE1), held during the ECAL 2015 conference at the University of York, UK, in July 2015. We briefly summarize the content of the workshop's talks, and identify the main themes that emerged from the open discussions. Two important conclusions from the discussions are: (1) the idea of pluralism about OEE—it seems clear that there is more than one interesting and important kind of OEE; and (2) the importance of distinguishing observable behavioral hallmarks of systems undergoing OEE from hypothesized underlying mechanisms that explain why a system exhibits those hallmarks. We summarize the different hallmarks and mechanisms discussed during the workshop, and list the specific systems that were highlighted with respect to particular hallmarks and mechanisms. We conclude by identifying some of the most important open research questions about OEE that are apparent in light of the discussions. The York workshop provides a foundation for a follow-up OEE2 workshop taking place at the ALIFE XV conference in Cancún, Mexico, in July 2016. Additional materials from the York workshop, including talk abstracts, presentation slides, and videos of each talk, are available at http://alife.org/ws/oee1 .
Automata chemistries are good vehicles for experimentation in open-ended evolution, but they are by necessity complex systems whose low-level properties require careful design. To aid the process of designing automata chemistries, we develop an abstract model that classifies the features of a chemistry from a physical (bottom up) perspective and from a biological (top down) perspective. There are two levels: things that can evolve, and things that cannot. We equate the evolving level with biology and the non-evolving level with physics. We design our initial organisms in the biology, so they can evolve. We design the physics to facilitate evolvable biologies. This architecture leads to a set of design principles that should be observed when creating an instantiation of the architecture. These principles are Everything Evolves, Everything's Soft , and Everything Dies . To evaluate these ideas, we present experiments in the recently developed Stringmol automata chemistry. We examine the properties of Stringmol with respect to the principles, and so demonstrate the usefulness of the principles in designing automata chemistries.