JAPANESE GIANT LOOKS TO UK FOR INNOVATION
Sony signs R&D agreement with Cambridge technology company
Things are changing! Britain has now established itself as one of the worlds leading experts in software development and Japan, in recognition of this, is investing in UK companies to pioneer the next computer revolution.
Cambridge-based CyberLife Technology Ltd, an independent privately owned company, has just signed a two year contract with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) to research and develop Artificial Life for future Sony applications. This deal, tipped to be the first of many, gives large globally-renowned companies like Sony, access to CyberLifes ground-breaking work.
"This is a great step for us. We are devoting significant R&D resources to producing world-leading artificial life technology. By researching various applications of CyberLife, we will continue to stay ahead of the field and further increase the distance between our technology and the state of the art elsewhere," commented Michael Hayward, Managing Director of CyberLife Technology Ltd.
Juan Montes at Sony added, "We recognise the importance of A-Life and the great advances CyberLife have made. This significant deal will ensure Sony continues to dominate the entertainment sector. By adding to our existing capabilities, we will keep on developing innovative ideas which are ahead of the current marketplace."
This deal comes hot on the heels of a recent KPMG Anglia Enterprise win which was awarded to CyberLife Technology Ltd for innovation. The judge for the category was extremely impressed with the companys constant development of new ideas in the area of artificial intelligence software.
CyberLifes first commercial application was Creatures. Launched in Europe last November, it has just been released in the US and Japan to great acclaim. This pioneering entertainment PC title has captured the imagination of the general public and has won approval from scientists worldwide. Creatures is based on a digital DNA which allows silicon lifefoms to react and behave like humans on a home computer. They eat, sleep, breed and are intelligent enough to think for themselves.
A number of recognised global companies have become interested in CyberLife. NCR is one example where, for some time now, it has worked with CyberLife on applying virtual agents (people) in simulated banking environments. Various other R&D projects are either underway or under discussion, however this latest deal with Sony only enforces CyberLifes beliefs that by identifying the core components and methodically tackling challenges, the company will be on target to develop and license truly intelligent, sentient, synthetic life forms for commercial purposes.
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The Doctor is in
I have received a number of emails from people who have had unusual experiences when breeding Norns. The symptoms range from Norns that have 95% health to Norns that hatch, but do not move or interact with their surroundings. This is all because Creatures simulates many of the processes that occur in animals that inhabit the natural world, such as digestion and reproduction.
When Norns breed in the wild, the genomes from the mother and father are laid out alongside each other and genetic material from one parent is exchanged with material from the other. The points along the genome where the exchange takes place and the number of genes exchanged are random, and occasionally there will be crossover errors which could result in individual genes being lost or duplicated. This process results in two new genomes, one is male, the other female. During natural births, the choice of which of these to use is random, although the Genetics Kit gives you the choice of which is disregarded. The result of this is that a new Norn egg inherits a combination of genes from the mother and father, together with some potential mutations and errors.
An organism affected by a mutation (especially one with visible effects) is described as a mutant. Somatic mutations affect the non-reproductive cells and are therefore restricted to the tissues of a single organism, but germ-line mutations, which occur in the reproductive cells, may be transmitted to the organisms descendants and cause abnormal development. Because of the dangers of passing any genetic mutations onto a Norns offspring, it is important that any affected Norns are not allowed to breed.
There is a mutation in Norns, for example, that has been identified and named the Highlander gene. This mutation affects part of the digestive system and leads to the Norn having a health of around 95% and an extended life span. Because the health is so high, the Norn also has a better chance of surviving an infection, especially those infections that are caught from contact with the Grendels. Norns that have the Highlander gene tend to live for 2-3 times the normal Norns life span, and with a bit of care and attention can live for over 100 hours. The oldest Norn that CyberLife know about was called Adam and lived with his breeder in Berlin. Adams owner, Freidi, told us that Adam lived to over 153 hours and was still going strong. It is possible to breed this mutated gene into other Norns by selective breeding with a Highlander Norn, but this can led to a problem. Some breeders who have tried this find that the Norns do live for an extended period, but this can affect breeding programs because the Norns live for so long. The very first Highlander Norn that was identified has a web site dedicated to this Norn Rutgers Highlander Norns http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/9995/creatures.html
It may sound a bit cruel, but if you have a Norn that you think is suffering from a detrimental mutation, then either let them live a normal life (as best as they are able, but do not let it breed) or export them and store them to one side. If you have a Norn with an interesting mutation, then I would like to hear about it. Please send the details (and a clone of the Norn, if possible) to email@example.com Remember, Creatures does simulate real life and mutations can and do occur do not confuse a mutation with an illness.
The Doctor is out.
CyberLife Technology is committed to support our users of Creatures. We have plans for a developers program to help people design and code their own Creatures applications and objects. If you would like to hear more, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org where you will be registered to receive new information as and when its available. Please remember to put Creatures SDK in the body of your text. There will be a small charge to be fully registered to this program, however we will offer on-going support and documentation to registered developers.