Blind Watchmaker Applet
The Blind Watchmaker algorithm was conceived by Richard Dawkins and is
described in his book The Blind Watchmaker. The Blind
Watchmaker applet is easy to use and demonstrates very effectively how
random mutation followed by non-random selection can lead to
interesting, complex forms. These forms are called "biomorphs" (a
word invented by Desmond Morris) and are visual representations of a
set of 'genes'.
Each biomorph in the Blind Watchmaker applet has the following 15 genes:
The Biomorph Reserve contains some examples evolved with the applet:
- genes 1-8 control the overall shape of the biomorph,
- gene 9 the depth of recursion,
- genes 10-12 the colour of the biomorph,
- gene 13 the number of segmentations,
- gene 14 the size of the separation of the segments,
- gene 15 the shape used to draw the biomorph (line, oval, rectangle, etc).
Click on the button below and the applet window will open (the window
can be expanded). Inside you will see 12 squares, each containing a
biomorph. The top-left biomorph is the parent and the other eleven
are its children (differing by one randomly selected gene). At first
the biomorphs are very small, but after a number of generations they
really start to develop - be patient!
Select one of the children to become the parent for the next
generation. Choose carefully, the point is that the selection is not
random. Continue, generation after generation, until you have
'evolved' a biomorph that you like.
About the Applet
The applet is derived from an algorithm conceived by Richard Dawkins
and is described in his book The Blind Watchmaker and also in
Artificial Life (Santa Fe Institute). In Climbing Mount
Improbable Richard Dawkins extends the genotype to include a gene
specifying the primitive used to draw the Biomorph. In addition,
genes to specify the colour and control the segmentation of the
Biomorphs are included in the Blind Watchmaker Applet.
Text and applet written by Mark Jones, Cambridge, UK.
Hosted by Department of Physics at Syracuse University.
We are grateful to Mark Jones for allowing us to use his work.
Last updated 21 January 2001.