James Martin Borg

Social Learning and Cultural Evolution in Artificial Evolutionary Systems

e-mail | twitter | keele | researchgate | ORCID

Site Navigation

About Me | Research | Teaching

also see top right corner for full site navigation

News and Views

ALife Conference 2021 - 2 presentations and a workshop!

The Artificial Life Conference (ALife) 2021 conference, held virtually in Prague to celebrate 100 years since the publication of "Rossum's Universal Robots" by Czech author Karel Čapek, will be kicking off on 19/07/2021. This year's ALife will be a busy one for me, with 2 presentations and a workshop!

Presentation 1 (21/07/2021, 10:30 - 11:00 BST): In this presentation I will be presenting an overview of my 2021 Artificial Life journal article titled "The effect of social information use without learning on the evolution of social behavior" - you can find the paper here https://doi.org/10.1162/artl_a_00328. I will upload my presentation recording and slides after the conference.

Presentation 2 (22/07/2021, 13:10 - 13:30 BST): I am delighted to be presenting in the The Fourth Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution (OEE4). I will presenting some ongoing work that I have been undertaking with Simon Powers on "Evolved Open-Endedness in Cultural Evolution". You can read our extended abstract at http://workshops.alife.org/oee4/papers/borg-oee4-camera-ready.pdf (or over at my Publications and Outputs page). I will upload my presentation recording and slides after the workshop.

The Fifth International Workshop of Social Learning and Cultural Evolution (21/07/2021, 14:00 - 16:00 & 17:00 - 18:30 BST): After a year off last year, myself, Simon Powers, Chris Marriott and Peter Andras (this joined by my PhD student Nathan Brooks) are back with the Fifth installment of the SLaCE workshop! Keeps your eye's peeled for speaker and schedule announcements (which should be made available over at www.slace.org very soon). Our keynote speakers this year are Dr Richard Watson and Prof Mark Bedau). Presentation recordings will be uploaded to the workshop website following the workshop.

I think I'm going to need a long nap after the conference!


Cultural Evolution Society Conference 2021

I will be attending my very first CES conference this year (!!!), after having my talk on "Insights from Artificial Life: Measuring and Classifying Open-Ended Evolutionary Dynamics" accepted. This is a collaborative effort between myself, Andrew Buskell, Simon Powers and Rohan Kapitany.

"Many features of Human cultural evolution, such as technology (Kolodny et al., 2015), language (Carr et al., 2016), and scientific knowledge (Lehman, 1947) seem to exhibit unbounded evolutionary dynamics; growing in complexity, introducing new innovations, and having no obvious bounds. Evolutionary systems exhibiting unbounded evolutionary dynamics are commonly referred to as being open-ended (Bedau et al., 1998). The creation and analysis of systems that exhibit open-ended evolutionary dynamics is an open problem in the field of Artificial Life (Bedau et al., 2000). Motivated by the observations that nature exhibits unbounded evolution, with the ongoing generation of adaptive novelty and complexity, Artificial Life researchers want to create open-ended evolutionary systems in artificial media (e.g. computer simulations, robots, ... ). The goal of achieving open-endedness in artificial evolutionary systems has led to the formalisation of measurements for unbounded evolutionary dynamics - these measurements take the form of evolutionary activity statistics, and are often called the “ALife Test” for unbounded evolutionary dynamics (Bedau et al., 1998). This test has been applied to the fossil record (Bedau et al., 1998), the patent record (Bedau et al., 2019) and artificial evolutionary systems (Channon, 2003). The activity statistics enable researchers to take any evolving system over time and assess changes to diversity, alongside measuring the introduction and adaptive persistence of new components in the system. Despite having numerous datasets, models, and evaluation methods, the field of cultural evolution is yet to effectively determine whether any given component of a culturally evolving system is bounded or unbounded. Determining what species exhibit open-ended cultural evolution, and in which behavioural domains, should be a key focus of cultural evolution going forward, and the the ALife test provides us with a consistent approach for doing this."


YCCSA Seminar

On 18/03/2021 I gave a talk titled "Coloured noise and the evolution of environmental tolerance in artificial evolutionary systems" for the York Cross-disciplinary Centre for Systems Analysis seminar series. If you missed it you can watch the seminar here: https://youtu.be/_mjBYnKU3lU

A Belated Update

After a very successful 2020 Conference on Artificial Life, which resulted in our paper ""Coloured noise time series as appropriate models for environmental variation in artificial evolutionary systems" being awarded best paper, a follow up to this work has now been submitted to the Artificial Life journal - watch this space!

Also, the final chapter from my PhD Thesis has now been improved and published - you can find "The Effect of Social Information Use Without Learning on the Evolution of Social Behavior" in the Artificial Life journal: https://doi.org/10.1162/artl_a_00328

After a year off the Social Learning and Cultural Evolution (SLaCE) workshop will be returning to the Artificial Life conference this year. Once we have populated the new permanent home for the workshop (www.slace.org), an update no speakers and theme will be forthcoming!

And last but not least, the Cultural Evolution Online Discord Server is going from strength to strength - if you would like to join a growing cross-disciplinary community which has a weekly Journal Club/Talk (every Friday 3-4pm GMT), then drop me an email to get an invite link.


Two Paper Accepted to the 2020 Conference on Artificial Life

Delighted to have both of my submissions accepted for contributed talks at the upcoming 2020 Conference on Artificial Life. arXiv links below:


PhD Opportunity @ Keele University in "Social Learning in Artificial Evolutionary Systems"

I have a self-funded PhD opportunity in "Social Learning in Artificial Evolutionary Systems" - so if you are looking for a PhD in Artificial Life, Evolutionary Robotics, or Social Learning this very well may be the opportunity for you. For more information please check out my PhD Opportunities page of the findaphd.com advert. The PhD opportunity is open anyone from a Computer Science, or Natural Sciences background, or students from Social Sciences or Humanities who either can already program or are motivated to learn to do so.


Fancy joining me at Keele University?

Fancy joining me at Keele University? The School of Computing and Mathematics has two new lectureships in Computer Science - ALife people strongly encouraged to apply.



Research Seminar - School of Computing and Mathematics, Keele University

On the 31st October 2018, 3-4pm, I will be giving a research seminar in the School of Computing and Mathematics, Keele University. Venue, Title and Abstract coming soon...


The Birth of a Website

I have always put off creating a website for myself - but now that I have become a fully fledged lecturer, I thought it would be useful to have some personal website to discuss my research, upload publications, express my views, and advertise PhD opportunities. Not much here yet - but more to come soon.