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Digital genetic engineering

would normally be used in conjunction with digital husbandry. This consists of writing a piece of application code and inserting it into the genome of an existing digital organism. A technique being used in organic genetic engineering today is to insert genes for useful proteins into goats, and to cause them to be expressed in the mammary glands. The goats then secrete large quantities of the protein into the milk, which can be easily removed from the animal. We can think of our complex digital organisms as general purpose animals, like goats, into which application codes can be inserted to add new functionalities, and then bred through artificial selection to enhance or alter the quality of the new functions.

In addition to adding new functionalities to complex digital organisms, digital genetic engineering could be used for achieving extremely high degrees of optimization in relatively small but heavily used pieces of code. In this approach, small pieces of application code could be inserted into the genomes of simple digital organisms. Then the allocation of CPU cycles to those organisms would be based on the performance of the inserted code. In this way, evolution could optimize those codes, and they could be returned to their applications. This technique would be used for codes that are very heavily used such as compiler constructs, or central components of the operating system.

Thomas S.Ray
Thu Aug 3 13:59:36 JST 1995