Tom Barbalet

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Tom Barbalet is the creator of Noble Ape , editor of and chair of the IGDA Intellectual Property Rights SIG.

Noble Ape

Noble Ape is an artificial life development project launched in June, 1996 by Tom Barbalet. It was designed to be a forum for a diversity of contributors to work towards a coherent cognitive simulation development environment.


Born in 1976 in Adelaide, South Australia, Barbalet developed a series of interpreters, compilers, anti-viral programs and the Schmuck Quest series of graphics/text adventure games in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Adelaide City in South Australia

Adelaide is the capital city of the state of South Australia, and the fifth-most populous city of Australia. In June 2017, greater Adelaide had an estimated resident population of 1,333,927. Adelaide is home to more than 75 percent of the South Australian population, making it the most centralised population of any state in Australia.

South Australia State of Australia

South Australia is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, and fifth largest by population. It has a total of 1.7 million people, and its population is the second most highly centralised in Australia, after Western Australia, with more than 77 percent of South Australians living in the capital, Adelaide, or its environs. Other population centres in the state are relatively small; Mount Gambier, the second largest centre, has a population of 28,684.

In computer science, an interpreter is a computer program that directly executes, i.e. performs instructions written in a programming or scripting language, without requiring them previously to have been compiled into a machine language program. An interpreter generally uses one of the following strategies for program execution:

  1. parse the source code and perform its behavior directly;
  2. translate source code into some efficient intermediate representation and immediately execute this;
  3. explicitly execute stored precompiled code made by a compiler which is part of the interpreter system.

In June 1996, as an undergraduate Barbalet put a collection of his landscape viewing and cognitive simulation demo programs together and created the artificial life development Noble Ape (originally called the Nervana Project). [1] [2] [3] [4]

Artificial life A field of study wherein researchers examine systems related to natural life, its processes, and its evolution, through the use of simulations

Artificial life is a field of study wherein researchers examine systems related to natural life, its processes, and its evolution, through the use of simulations with computer models, robotics, and biochemistry. The discipline was named by Christopher Langton, an American theoretical biologist, in 1986. There are three main kinds of alife, named for their approaches: soft, from software; hard, from hardware; and wet, from biochemistry. Artificial life researchers study traditional biology by trying to recreate aspects of biological phenomena.

The Noble Ape development was attributed to;

Malaysia Federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species.

Kuala Lumpur Capital of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, officially the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur or commonly known as KL, is the national capital and largest city in Malaysia. As the global city of Malaysia, it covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1.73 million as of 2016. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.25 million people as of 2017. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in Southeast Asia, in both population and economic development.

Penang State of Malaysia

Penang is a Malaysian state located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Malacca Strait. It has two parts: Penang Island, where the capital city, George Town, is located, and Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula. The second smallest Malaysian state by land mass, Penang is bordered by Kedah to the north and the east, and Perak to the south. Currently, Penang is home to Southeast Asia's Longest bridge connecting the island to mainland.

The Noble Ape development continues on to this day.

Tom Barbalet also created the I Am Darwin website, where people can post video clips of how Charles Darwin and his teachings influenced their lives.

Charles Darwin British naturalist, author of "On the origin of species, by means of natural selection"

Charles Robert Darwin, was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Barbalet moved to the Bay Area in 1999 following an article by new media theorist Douglas Rushkoff. There he spent time with Steve Wozniak [4] and John Draper, before moving to the United Kingdom and settling in Wilmslow in 2001. Barbalet lives in the Bay Area with his wife.

San Francisco Bay Area Conurbation in California, United States

San Francisco Bay Area is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bay estuaries in the northern part of the U.S. state of California. Although the exact boundaries of the region vary depending on the source, the Bay Area is defined by the Association of Bay Area Governments to include the nine counties that border the aforementioned estuaries: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco. Other sources may exclude parts of or even entire counties, or expand the definition to include neighboring counties that don't border the bay such as San Benito, San Joaquin, and Santa Cruz.

Douglas Rushkoff writer, American media theorist

Douglas Mark Rushkoff is an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist, and documentarian. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.

Steve Wozniak American inventor, computer engineer and programmer

Stephen Gary "Woz" Wozniak, is an American inventor, electronics engineer, programmer, philanthropist, and technology entrepreneur who in 1976 co-founded Apple Inc., which later became the world's largest information technology company by revenue and largest company in the world by market capitalization. He and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs are widely recognized as pioneers of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.


Barbalet hosted the podcast, which interviewed developers and thinkers in the artificial life community, and narrated the Ape Reality Podcast, which focused on the development of Noble Ape. He also co-hosted the Stone Ape Podcast with Heron Stone, This Comes Next Podcast with Jay Carmona and the Attic Aficionados Podcast with Brandon DiCamillo.

Presently, Barbalet is the host of Model Rail Radio.

Field of Chaos

In 2011, Barbalet published a compilation of his 1993 writings called Field of Chaos.

Related Research Articles

Cognitive science interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."

Robert Anton Wilson American author and polymath

Robert Anton Wilson was an American author, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized by Discordianism as an Episkopos, Pope, and saint, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings and interviews.

Douglas Bruce Lenat is the CEO of Cycorp, Inc. of Austin, Texas, and has been a prominent researcher in artificial intelligence; he was awarded the biannual IJCAI Computers and Thought Award in 1976 for creating the machine learning program, AM. He has worked on machine learning, knowledge representation, "cognitive economy", blackboard systems, and what he dubbed in 1984 "ontological engineering". He has also worked in military simulations, and numerous projects for US government, military, intelligence, and scientific organizations. In 1980, he published a critique of conventional random-mutation Darwinism. He authored a series of articles in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence exploring the nature of heuristic rules.

Simulated reality is the hypothesis that reality could be simulated—for example by quantum computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from "true" reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from "true" reality. There has been much debate over this topic, ranging from philosophical discourse to practical applications in computing.

Technological utopianism is any ideology based on the premise that advances in science and technology could and should bring about a utopia, or at least help to fulfill one or another utopian ideal.

<i>Simulacron-3</i> Novel written by Daniel F. Galouye

Simulacron-3 (1964), by Daniel F. Galouye, is an American science fiction novel featuring an early literary description of a simulated reality.

<i>The Thirteenth Floor</i> 1999 film by Josef Rusnak

The Thirteenth Floor is a 1999 neo-noir science fiction crime thriller film written and directed by Josef Rusnak, and produced by Roland Emmerich. It is loosely based upon Simulacron-3 (1964), a novel by Daniel F. Galouye, and a remake of the German film World on a Wire (1973). The film stars Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Dennis Haysbert. In 2000, The Thirteenth Floor was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, but lost to The Matrix.

<i>Simulacra and Simulation</i> book

Simulacra and Simulation is a 1981 philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard, in which the author seeks to examine the relationships between reality, symbols, and society, in particular the significations and symbolism of culture and media involved in constructing an understanding of shared existence.

An artificial brain is software and hardware with cognitive abilities similar to those of the animal or human brain.

Institute for Creative Technologies

The Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) is a research institute of the University of Southern California located in Playa Vista, California. ICT was established in 1999 with funding from the US Army.

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh Psychologist

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is a psychologist and primatologist most known for her work with two bonobos, Kanzi and Panbanisha, investigating their linguistic and cognitive abilities using lexigrams and computer-based keyboards. Originally based at Georgia State University's Language Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, she worked at the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary in Des Moines, Iowa from 2006 until her departure in November 2013. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Bonobo Hope.

Life simulation is a subgenre of simulation video games in which the player lives or controls one or more virtual lifeforms. A life simulation game can revolve around "individuals and relationships, or it could be a simulation of an ecosystem".

The simulation hypothesis or simulation theory proposes that all of reality, including the Earth and the universe, is in fact an artificial simulation, most likely a computer simulation. Some versions rely on the development of a simulated reality, a proposed technology that would seem realistic enough to convince its inhabitants the simulation was real. The hypothesis has been a central plot device of many science fiction stories and films.

This article describes organizations that promote Artificial life.

Jeffrey Ventrella is a digital artist, programmer, and researcher. Ventrella was principal inventor and, with Will Harvey, co-founder of the virtual world There.

John Swords III is an American entrepreneur, best known for his work in emerging, disruptive technology such as virtual worlds and social media. Within the Second Life virtual world, his avatar is known as Johnny Ming.

Field of Chaos is a compilation of two novella works written by Tom Barbalet in 1993. The first novella deals with a fictionalized account of Barbalet's experiences writing anti computer virus software for the Australian government. This anti-viral software was the basis of Barbalet's Noble Ape cognitive simulation. The second novella is a non-fiction account of Barbalet's experiences in a revolutionary commune in Elands in northern New South Wales.


  1. Rushkoff, Douglas (5 October 1999). "Boy wonder solves Silicon Valley riddle". The Age. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. p. 12, I.T.1. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  2. Taylor, Laura (1 February 2000). "Tom Barbalet". (52): 32. ISSN   1324-7999.
  3. "Turned his research project into a computer game". Australasian Science. Control Publications. 19: 41. 1998.
  4. 1 2 Jackson, Dominique (14 December 1999). "Local hero hailed by gurus". The Australian. News Limited. p. 48.