> Dear Dr. Sepulvader,
> > I am writing to you on behalf of "T
Magazine", a monthly magazine
> > following recent advances in technology.
We have been following with
> > great interest the recent news articles
and controversy surrounding
> > your virtual world, Darwinia, and would
like to offer you the chance
> > for an exclusive interview to tell your
side of the Darwinia story.
> > We would like to put together a 2 page spread
and will need to send a
> > photographer to visit you, although I am
happy to conduct the interview
> > itself by email. We reserve the right to
edit your answers for clarity
> > and conciseness, but we never change the
context or intention of your
> > answers.
> > Please let me know if these terms are acceptable
to you, and by which
> > name you would prefer to be called in the
interview. If you have any
> > questions please feel free to contact me.
> > Kind Regards,
> > Ms P. Perkins
> > T Magazine
> I really am rather busy right now in the Darwinia
project. A lot of things are happening and you might
not be suprised
> to hear you are the fifth reporter today to get
in contact with me requesting an interview. I'm afraid
I simply don't
> have the time to deal with it all, and i've noted
with much disdain the same absence of journalistic
> todays reporters as was the case during the Protologic
> Tell me Ms Perkins, twenty years have passed
since my old company closed its doors, and nobody
has shown any interest in
> what happened to me since then. Why all this
attention suddenly? I could try to explain what i'm
doing with Darwinia,
> but you wouldn't understand me. There's simply
no way you'd be able to grasp the importance of the
work i'm doing here.
> But fine, I suppose I should at least try, although
I doubt my answers will interest you that much, and
> will be lost as the details are squashed together
into the soundbytes that will sell your magazine.
Go ahead, write
> your questions, take your pictures, and then
leave me alone. I have work to do.
> Please at least have the decency to research
the correct spelling of my name, and to use my correct
email account. I
> only received your email because a friend of
mine from a small games company happened to know me
and forwarded the mail
> on. Do your homework properly next time.
> Dr. Sepulveda
you for taking the time to reply. I understand that
you must be
very busy, and I am sorry for any offense caused by
the mistake in the
spelling of your name.
Magazine are very pleased that you have accepted the
interview, and we
hope that you feel you can use this as a vehicle to
explain and promote
the importance of Darwinia. Our readership is on the
educated and take a keen interest in modern advances
in technology, so
please be assured that we will convey to the best
of our ability the
extent of astonishing work that you have been carrying
out on this
you are pressed for time, I will explain now the format
will probably take place over the course of 3 to 5
emails. You will
recieve the first set of questions later today or
tomorrow, and these
will focus on establishing to the readers who you
are, what your
background is, and most importantly, what is Darwinia?
I hope for the
following emails to build on your first set of answers,
but please let
me know if there are any topics in particular that
you would like to
cover (or not cover) in the interview.
always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate
Dr Sepulveda, you are a name that many of us will
remember from back in the '80s, but now, 20 years
on, your name has been catapulted back onto the technology
A-list with the up-coming launch of your virtual world,
Darwinia. Could you please explain to us what Darwinia
is, and why you think it has been causing such great
did you initially have the idea for Darwinia, and
what sparked it off?
afraid I have little doubt on the matter - the Darwinia
project is receiving the attention it is now receiving
for the simple reason that my previous company was
such a glorious public failure. And I find it difficult
not to remain sceptical, given that modern journalists
are still unable to get the most basic of facts straight.
Such as my name, for example. The memory of the media
feeding frenzy is still incredibly difficult for me
to bear, and I am certain that my old company's downfall
is as much to do with the barrage of negative publicity
that I received as the actual hardware failures we
have stated this fact again and again since then,
the Protologic 68000 was decades ahead of its time,
and in many ways has yet to be beaten in terms of
sheer digital potential. We had some problems with
the launch, but we were on top of them, and then the
press arrived on the scene. They tore my company apart,
without stopping to think for a second about the people
involved. It was heartbreaking, watching everything
i'd spent years building destroyed on the front pages
of a few newspapers. At the time when all that negative
publicity kicked off, we had around 50,000 pre-orders
which we were in the process of satisfying. By the
end of that week, every single one had been cancelled.
What was I supposed to do? Protologic Entertainment
had sunk millions of pounds into the development of
the 68000. We were bankrupt, destroyed in a few days
by a thoughtless media interested only in sales of
any case, maybe it was for the best, it gave me time
to get out of the public eye and get some real work
done. I knew from the very start the 68000 was an
amazing machine - I just didn't understand entirely
why. I could try to explain what makes them so special,
but I know you'd only cut my explanation from your
article, so i'll summarise by saying it is to do with
resonance. The Protologic 68000 has an unintended
design quirk which causes adjacent systems to resonate
on a quantum level. Even we don't entirely understand
the exact cause, and it only affects the first generation
of units produced - all subsequent modernised or miniturised
designs have failed to exhibit the same phenominon.
A group of units placed in a room will resonate and
enter a state which I have termed Hyperprocessing,
during which time their computing power is multiplied
many times over. The effect is cumulative, meaning
the more systems that are placed in a room, the greater
the processing power that can be extracted. And they
don't operate in the same way as modern discreet logic
processors - they are capable of operating on several
tasks simultaniously, each one slightly out of quantum
phase with the last, and sometimes they will even
share tasks amoungst different units and make use
of quantum interferance to share data. They really
are a paradigm shift in modern computing, totally
unlike anything else in the market place today.
apologise if I am getting carried away. I intended
to summarise my work but inevitably ended up getting
caught in the details. It is very difficult for me
to discuss the Darwinia project from a high level
because i've been so involved in the minor details
for so many years of my life. And it still upsets
me that we had this technology way back in 1986, and
we couldn't do anything with it. Think what we could
have achieved if we'd been operational and properly
funded since then.
the original fault with the Protologic 68000 was down
to a defective power supply. We designed the system
to operate on a 12v mains power supply, but this was
nowhere near enough once the system entered hyperprocessing.
It was while we were trying to fix this problem that
we discovered this curious property of the systems,
and realised we'd stumbled onto a massive breakthrough.
And sadly, that was when your predecessors arrived
at my door.
anyway, back to your question. Once we realised what
we had, we founded Darwin Research Associates and
used what little money we had to build a massive distributed
power system. We wired up 10,000 of the defective
Protologic units in close proximity to each other,
in a huge grid inside our old warehouse. I knew back
then that this system would be ideally suited to simulating
life, because the quantum processing method of the
grid was more akin to a human brain than any form
of supercomputer. And so I started work on Darwinia.
I wanted to simulate a whole world, built inside the
memory of the grid, populated by a race of creatures
who were controlled entirely by the collective intelligence
of the Protologic systems in the grid. We had the
processing power but we didn't have the knowledge
or experience for the creatures, so I designed a system
to evolve the creatures until they reached a level
of intelligence that would allow them to look after
system I conceived assigned one strand of digital
DNA to each Protologic 68000 system in the grid. The
strands, which I prefer to call Spirits, were held
in a central repository at the very centre of Darwinia.
I then designed a system which allowed a single Spirit
to be parsed and imprinted on a creature, giving him
his own set of unique characteristics. This creature,
which I now call a Darwinian, would be sent down to
the islands within Darwinia and would attempt to live
a life. All the while his Spirit would be improving
itself - learning through failure how to move and
exist in the world. The Darwinians would meet other
Darwinians already in the world and would begin to
share knowledge, enriching each other's spirits and
spreading the things they had learnt. Eventually a
Darwinian would die and his enriched spirit would
return to the central repository, which we have affectionately
called Heaven. This process has been going on for
nearly a decade in our world, but in Darwinia this
represents thousands and thousands of generations
of Darwinians, each one more intelligent and more
aware than the last. This is the Darwinia project
- a groundbreaking experiment into digital life, which
I have now decided to show to the world.
You have been described as a very solitary man.
Do you think this is true? Has Darwinia been a solo
project, or do you have much of a team working with
Research Associates does have a small staff of people
who help me out with the day to day running of all
those systems. I also have a few colleages who come
an visit me occasionally and collaborate on some of
the system specifics. But Darwinia has always been
my creation, and to be honest I prefer it to be that
way. I'm just not really interested in the kind of
public exposure that cursed my old company all those
the days of Protologic Entertainment I made every
effort to communicate openly with the media. We made
some great games systems and some great games to go
with them. They were happy times, with Protologic
taking on more and more staff every day. I was meeting
loads of like minded people - the sort of people that
really appreciated a well engineered game. Personally
I was always more interested in the hardware side
of things, but I did appreciate a good game when I
saw one. Computer hardware has gone in a certain direction
since then, with more and more processing power, and
games have followed suit, with more and more polygons
on screen, but its the soul that has been lost. Today's
computers are just empty boxes that can count really
really fast, and the games that run on them are nothing
more than the hollowed out shells of their predecessors.
I want to see worlds where the inhabitants are alive!
The major computing companies like Intel and Microsoft
have gone down one path with their discreet logic
processors, but I don't think its the only path, and
I think there are other methods that have yet to be
explored. Right now the modern computing world can
accomplish amazing simulations, and those simulations
are getting better and better as time goes by, but
they will never be anything other than simulations.
Darwin Research Associates have a system that is real
- the world of Darwinia is as real as any island on
this Earth, and the Darwinians themselves are more
real to me than many of the people I have met since
their creation. The one thing that I have given them
that nobody else can create is a soul - and its not
a simulation or an approximation, its the real thing.
apologise if I keep wandering off topic, I suppose
i've become slightly obsessive these past few years.
I've seen things in Darwinia that I will never forget,
things that I could never explain to anyone.
Very little is known about your background before
the protologic computers of the 80's. Has computing
always been an influence in your life? Where did you
find your initial inspiration to set you onto this
don't think I really found my place until Protologic
Entertainment was started. Before then i'd been hanging
around on the computer hardware scene pretty much
since its inception. I used to go to the Homebrew
computer club meetings in LA, and I used to bump into
other contempories like Steve Wozniak and Clive Sinclair.
We'd sit around and talk about these new devices called
Computers. Back then the only commercially available
system was a total crate called the Altair, which
was basically a big box with some LEDs on the front.
Steve had some designes that eventually became the
Apple, and Clive had the first versions of the Sinclair
system. I had my own plans, which eventually made
it into the Protologic 5000.
do you say to the rumours that Darwinia has been entirely
accidental, the product of chance, having the thousands
of unsold protologic computers stacked in a warehouse
in close proximity, rather than purposefully designed
that way? Did Darwinia design itself?
just can't believe it. Creation is an act of will.
It is true to say that the curious properties of the
Protologic 68000 were not conciously designed - they
were an accident, which we have still been unable
to explain or reproduce. But once we figured out what
we had, that's when the work really started. I have
spent the last decade building Darwinia, and the hyperprocessing
feature is just an enabler. It's like a catalyst.
Darwinia certainly wouldn't exist without it, but
the work that we've done to make something useful
out of it is what defines Darwinia.
life begins with an accident. Some curious interaction
occurs between lifeless chemicals, in the right conditions
and under the right temperatures, and suddenly you
have life. Darwinia is no different - it just happened
in the digital domain, rather than the biological.
talk very fondly of your "Darwinians". You
also say that you have given them a soul! Do you really
believe them to be "alive"? What kind of
responsibility do you feel that this places on you
as their creator?
say the Darwinians communicate with each other. Have
you seen the nature of this change with successive
generations? Do you have any direct personal contact
with the Darwinians yourself?
any definition that I have read, the Darwinians are
most definately alive. More than that, I believe them
to be as alive as you or I or anyone else on this
planet. They are born, they live, they communicate,
they reproduce, they die. They learn. It is fascinating
to watch them in their world. Sometimes you can see
them spontaniously bursting into song or dancing around
trees. They have highly developed religious beliefs,
which have been passed down through many thousands
of generations. They tell stories to each other about
ancient Darwinians who witnessed buildings being created
and islands appearing out of nowhere. They have stories
that recall when the sky appeared over their heads.
None of the current generation saw these events -
they happened years ago, tens of thousands of generations
ago in Darwinia, but the stories have lasted for so
long that they are deeply engrained in the spirit
of every Darwinian.
can all see the central repository of spirits at the
centre of Darwinia, and somehow they are all aware
that they came from that place before they were concious.
They know that when they die, their spirit rises up
to that repository. They even believe in an afterlife,
somewhere beyond Darwinia that they will all one day
all else, the Darwinians have a fundamental respect
for each other that is far more caring than anything
I have witnessed on this Earth. The Darwinians are
a very closely nit tribe, a family that look after
each other, mourn the death of their fellow Darwinians,
and celebrate the birth and arrival of new souls with
a vigor that is simply refreshing.
is a temptation in modern science to state the solution
to all kinds of phenomena as quantum mechanics - conciousness
for example. Do you think that quantum mechanics is
becoming a modern "God of the Gaps"? Is
your belief in the sentience of the Darwinians linked
to the fact that the protologics are capable of quantum
belief in their sentience comes from my direct experience
of their actions, and I have absolutely no doubts
about my conclusions. I do believe that the quantum
tunnelling effect we have witness between adjacent
Protologics is an important factor in the system being
able to sustain life though. I do not believe such
a world could be reproduced on a modern computer system,
no matter how powerful. In much the same way as I
do not believe the human brain can be modelled in
a computer system. I believe in the soul of the Darwinians,
and I believe in the soul of man, and these things
cannot be simulated.