The ``physical'' environment presented by the simulator is quite simple, consisting of the energy resource (CPU time) doled out rather uniformly by the time slicer, and memory space which is completely uniform and always available. In light of the nature of the physical environment, the implicit fitness function would presumably favor the evolution of creatures which are able to replicate with less CPU time, and this does in fact occur. However, much of the evolution in the system consists of the creatures discovering ways to exploit one-another. The creatures invent their own fitness functions through adaptation to their biotic (``living'') environment. These ecological interactions are not programmed into the system, but emerge spontaneously as the creatures discover each other and invent their own games.
In the Tierran world, creatures which initially do not interact, discover means to exploit one another, and in response, means to avoid exploitation. The original fitness landscape of the ancestor consists only of the efficiency parameters of the replication algorithm, in the context of the properties of the reaper and slicer queues. When by chance, genotypes appear that exploit other creatures, selection acts to perfect the mechanisms of exploitation, and mechanisms of defense to that exploitation. The original fitness landscape was based only on adaptations of the organism to its physical environment. The new fitness landscape retains those features, but adds to it adaptations to the biotic environment, the other creatures. Because the fitness landscape includes an ever increasing realm of adaptations to other creatures which are themselves evolving, it can facilitate an auto-catalytic increase in complexity and diversity of organisms.
Evolutionary theory suggests that adaptation to the biotic environment (other organisms) rather than to the physical environment is the primary force driving the auto-catalytic diversification of organisms (). It is encouraging to discover that the process has already begun in the Tierran world. It is worth noting that the results presented here are based on evolution of the first creature that I designed, written in the first instruction set that I designed. Comparison to the creatures that have evolved shows that the one I designed is not a particularly clever one. Also, the instruction set that the creatures are based on is certainly not very powerful (apart from those special features incorporated to enhance its evolvability). It would appear then that it is rather easy to create life. Evidently, virtual life is out there, waiting for us to provide environments in which it may evolve.