“Life” in Iraq and Af-Pak

Game of Life Reddit alien generator from Tom Robinson on Vimeo.

John Horton Conway’s game of “Life” is just about the simplest representation of organic processes which captures anything of their complexity, and it’s essentially unpredictable.

No one has ever discovered a general description of the sort of structure which will generate relatively simple patterns like a “reddit alien.” The folklore of “Life” evolved by trial and error over millions of hours of computer animations in math and physics and computer science departments all over the world, and the sort of people who are better at understanding this sort of thing than anybody else only slowly, slowly developed a few rules of thumb for designing simple structures whose evolution we can more or less predict, but only after observing the still unpredictable outcome of microscopic variations in initial conditions, all of them exquisitely sensitive to the alteration of even one pixel on the screen, where almost anything that you and I would call a pattern rapidly dissolves into disorder.

Now imagine a game of “Life” where the rules vary radically across the screen, external factors constantly impinge upon the game, and you don’t know the rules.

This is a picture of the American “game” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.