The Distributed Ghost
Cellular Automata, Distributed Dynamical Systems, and Their Applications to Intelligence

at ALIFE 2023, hybrid live/virtual event

Conference dates: 24-28 July, 2023 - Sapporo, Japan

Workshop submission deadline: May 1st, 2023


Stefano Nichele, Østfold University College, Norway
Hiroki Sayama, Binghamton University, USA
Chrystopher Nehaniv, University of Waterloo, Canada
Eric Medvet, University of Trieste, Italy
Mario Pavone, University of Catania, Italy

This workshop in an initiative of the IEEE CIS Task Force on Artificial Life and Complex Adaptive Systems.

Scope of the workshop

Distributed dynamical systems such as Cellular Automata and Random Boolean Networks (and everything in between), have long been used as models to understand computation and self-replication in biology, morphogenesis, gene regulation, life-as-it-could-be, and the universe.

Such complex systems models have been extensively studied mathematically and experimentally in all their different variations, such as synchronous and asynchronous updates, dynamic automata networks that can grow and change their structure including components and interconnection topology, as well as their robustness.

In [1], A. Wuensche investigates the basins of attraction of cellular automata (CA) and random Boolean networks (RBN), and even suggests that they are The Ghost in the Machine.

Recent advances of such models, including continuous CA such as Lenia and neural-based CA, have been proposed as substrates to study the emergence of a more general intelligence [2, 3], thanks to their propensity to support properties such as self-organization, emergence, and open-endedness.

  • What can we learn from Cellular Automata and Distributed Dynamical System models about intelligence?
  • How can Cellular Automata and Distributed Dynamical System models be used to study the emergence of intelligence?

This workshop aims at bridging the gap between the ALife community working with CA and distributed dynamical systems, and the broader AI community interested in exploring concepts from complex systems/self-organization/artificial life for AI research and machine learning, including modular robotics such as voxel-based robots.

[1] Wuensche, A. (1994). The Ghost in the Machine: Basins of Attraction of Random Boolean Networks. Artificial Life III: SFI Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, vol. VII. Addison-Wesley.

[2] Hamon, G., Etcheverry, M., Chan, B. W. C., Moulin-Frier, C., & Oudeyer, P. Y. (2022). Learning sensorimotor agency in cellular automata.

[3] Gregor, K., & Besse, F. (2021). Self-organizing intelligent matter: A blueprint for an AI generating algorithm. arXiv preprint arXiv:2101.07627.


Will include invited talks and contributed presentations.

Submission instructions

Submissions for contributed talks are in the form of extended abstracts (maximum 2 pages).
The workshop accepts both published and novel works. In case your work has been published earlier, please specify this during the submission process.
Accepted abstracts will be published in a booklet hosted on this website.

We plan to prepare a special issue in NEJCS (free of charge) with extended versions (full papers) of the novel contributions from the workshop.
Submission via EasyChair at this link.

Important dates

Submission: May 1st, 2023
Notification: May 15th, 2023


Please feel free to contact us:
Stefano Nichele:
Hiroki Sayama:
Chrystopher Nehaniv:
Eric Medvet:
Mario Pavone: