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The Evolution Prize:
For a Demonstration of Open-Ended Evolutionary Innovation in a Closed System
Discussed at ALife X, Boomington Indiana, 4 June 2006 | What'sNEW

In the history of life on Earth many evolutionary innovations have emerged. From the earliest prokaryotic life, the innovations had no apparent limit — the process was open-ended. Until recently, the innovations were believed to have emerged in a genetically closed system, Earth's biosphere. But the new field of astrobiology indicates that our biosphere may receive genetic input from elsewhere. Could this potential input affect evolution? How important for evolutionary innovation could it be? Is open-ended evolutionary innovation (OEEI) even possible in a genetically closed system? A sure answer to this basic question would be noteworthy and the quest for an answer should have scientific benefits.

If OEEI in a closed system is possible, a demonstration should be achievable. Could an ALife model provide the demonstration? The Astrobiology Research Trust wishes to promote this challenge by offering the Evolution Prize of $100,000. This prize will be the subject of workshop at the ALife X Conference in Bloomington, Indiana. Part II of the Workshop, 7-10 PM, June 4, hosted by Brig Klyce and Mark Bedau, will explore how to establish the criteria for and the administration of the prize. Some of the issues to clarify in order to launch the Evolution Prize are —

  • Innovation – Can this concept unambiguously defined, measured, or recognized?
  • Administration – How will submissions and judging be conducted?
  • Criteria for winning – How will we know if the criteria for winning have been met?
  • Outcomes – How can the Evolution Prize be most beneficial to science?

What'sNEW: dedicated website The Evolution Prize

12 Jan 2017: The population genetic theory, from Eugene V. Koonin
11 Nov 2016: George Church says Prove it.
21 Aug 2016: Can antagonistic evolution compose de novo genes?
Polymath and the origin of life, a thoughtful blog begun c. 6 Nov 2009. (Thanks, Michael Nielsen.)
26 Nov 2013: Marc Kirschner quotation.
18 Oct 2013: Manfred Eigen's new book, From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity.
23 May 2012: Proving Darwin by Gregory Chaitin is a very welcome book.
+ 2010: We now prefer the phrase "Quarantined System" over the original "Closed System".
22 Aug 2008: Dave Hillis thinks "you can't get there from here."
21 Jun 2008: Another attempt to advance the Evolution Prize is posted as a challenge on
Brig Klyce interviewed about the Evolution Prize by Tom Barbalet of, 2 Sep 2006.
The Evolution Prize now has its own website. News and discussion will be posted there, beginning 28 Aug 2006.
5 Jun 2006: email from Brig Klyce to the Evolution Prize mailing list.
Brig Klyce, "The Evolution Prize: Is Open-Ended Evolutionary Innovation in a Closed System Possible?" [pdf | doc], 20 Apr 2006.
ALife X, The Tenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, 3-7 June 2006, Bloomington IN, USA.
The Astrobiology Research Trust, sponsor of the prize.
15 Apr 2006 — our What'sNEW announcement of this webpage and the Evolution Prize.
COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | Site Search | Next | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved