Fake Life Recognition Contest

Organized by okw - Current server time: Jan. 21, 2021, 3:59 p.m. UTC

First phase

Aug. 12, 2019, midnight UTC


Competition Ends
Feb. 16, 2020, midnight UTC

Welcome everyone excited about Artificial Life!!

The submissions are now open, until February 15th, 2020! The cash prize is USD1000, with the support of AI company Cross Compass Ltd.

The problem of identifying living systems from non-living one is a difficult question, which research fields such as artificial life or origins of life have been trying to address for decades or more. One can probably tell by sight that a walking line of ants is made of living things, while a flowing river is not. Can a computer tell apart living from non-living things as well as we can? The question is not settled in theory, but we had the idea of trying to settle it in practice.

We (Lana Sinapayen and Olaf Witkowski) are organizing a *Fake Life Recognition Contest* (supported by Cross Compass Ltd., and co-organized by Cross Labs and ELSI). The competition has just been announced at the ALIFE 2019 conference, in Newcastle, UK. Concretely, a list of unlabeled datasets are made available online. Some are time series of real living systems, and some are generated by non-living systems. Participants can test their algorithms on these public datasets, but their algorithms will be judged based on unreleased datasets. Along with a working algorithm, each participant is required to submit a description of the underlying theoretical measure (i.e. "What is your theory about to correctly classify these datasets? What is your idea based on?").

We intend this competition as a critical initiative to help Artificial Life research, and drive it in a practical way, just like computational linguistics for example made tremendous progress in the past few decades by setting up well-defined tasks as shared open challenges. Our goal is to contribute to scientific progress in the field. Although the impact on industry is not the main purpose, one may imagine numerous applications in terms of detection of living systems. The contributions from participants will hopefully help progress in refining our mathematical understanding of the nature of living systems, i.e. what life is in contrast to inert matter. This, in turn, is connected to problems of life detection on exoplanets, the detection of extremophiles on Earth, and the origin of life, and the study of synthetic living systems in general. We consider this as a very important yet not much funded research area, relating to fundamental questions about the status and uniqueness of human life and intelligence in the universe.

Concretely, the participants simply need to provide two major elements: a code in Python that returns 1 if the data is from a real living system, and 0 if it's not, and a very short PDF description of what's the mathematical measure under the hood. The use of learning algorithms is expressly not allowed, for the obvious reason they would not yield an explanation of why they work. In case of any doubt, please contact the organizers. Please refer to details under the 'participate' tab.

The datasets consist in time series of trajectory positions in 2D (those are meant as actual spatial trajectories), which correspond to either artificial or real living systems. Each dataset comes in the form of a 20Mb or so CSV file with 3 columns labelled “t“, “x” and “y”, with 10,000 rows. 

The competition is volunteer-based and open to all, and its introduction to the public will be made as part of the Hybrid Life workshop at the ALIFE 2019 conference in Newcastle, UK (https://2019.alife.org).

A winner's certificate and a cash prize of USD1000 will be awarded to the best performing algorithm submitted (in case of a tie, the earlier submission will win) with the support of AI company Cross Compass Ltd.

Questions? Contatct us at flrc.contact@gmail.com

Evaluation Criteria

Submissions will be open on September 12th, 2019 at 10:00 am, until February 15th, 2020.

The scoring will be made automatically when uploaded to the platform based on result, based on accuracy to classify between fake life and real life samples, but is not final. The best algorithms will then be selected to be run on test data, to determine the winner. In case of a tie between algorithms, the earliest submission will be chosen as the winner. Results will then be announced on this website.

Terms and Conditions

By submitting results to this competition, you consent to the public release of your submission, score and other metrics at the task organizers' discretion. You accept that the ultimate decision of metric choice and score value is that of the task organizers.

You further agree that the task organizers are under no obligation to release scores and that scores may be withheld if it is the task organizers' judgement that the submission was incomplete, erroneous, deceptive, or violated the letter or spirit of the competition's rules. Inclusion of a submission's scores is not an endorsement of a team or individual's submission, system, or science.

You further agree that your system may be named according to the team name provided at the time of submission, or to a suitable shorthand as determined by the task organizers.

You agree not to redistribute the test data except in the manner prescribed by its licence.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need clarification regarding the rules of the challenge or the licensing of the data.

This is a skill-based contest and chance plays no part in the determination of the winner(s). The goal of the contest is described on the challenge website. All eligible entries received will be judged using the criteria described on the website to determine winners. The details of the scoring is left at the discretion of the task organizers.

The schedule provided on the challenge website at the beginning of the challenge may be modified by the organizers at any time. The registered participants will be notified by email of any change in the schedule. To that end, they should provide a valid email.

You are eligible to enter this contest if you meet the following requirements:
(a) You are an individual or a team of people desiring to contribute to the tasks of the challenge and accepting to follow its rules;
(b) You are not involved in any part of the administration and execution of this contest;
(c) You are not an immediate family (parent, sibling, spouse, or child) or household member of a task organizer, or a person involved in any part of the administration and execution of this contest;
If you choose to submit an entry, but are not qualified to enter the contest, this entry is voluntary, and any entry you submit is governed by the remainder of these contest rules; the organizers reserve the right to evaluate it for scientific purposes. If you are not qualified to submit a contest entry and still choose to submit one, under no circumstances will such entries qualify for sponsored prizes.

To be eligible for judging, an entry must meet the following content/technical requirements:
(a) Entry contents: The participants are required to submit entries following the instructions provided on the challenge website. To be part of the final ranking the participants may be asked to engage in a final procedure such as filling out a survey briefly describing their method. There is no other obligation to publish, unless otherwise specified on the website of the challenge.
(b) Pre-requisite: Unless specified on the website of the challenge, there is no pre-requisite to participate, including no requirement to have participated in previous challenges. The task organize reserve the right to exclude participants in exceptional situations at their discretion.
(c) Use of data provided: All data provided are freely available to the participants from the website of the challenge under license terms provided with the data.
(d) Test data: the organizers will use test data to perform the final evaluation, hence the participants' final entry will be based on test data. The conditions will be described on the website of the challenge.
(e) Original data: the contest organizers will make available to the participants a 'validation' dataset without label values, for reasons indicated on the competition website. This data will be used by the participants for practice purposes to validate their systems. It will be relatively similar to the test set used for final evaluation purposes.
(f) Post-challenge analyses: the organizers may also perform additional post-challenge analyses using extra data, but the results will not affect the ranking of the challenge performed with the test data.
(g) Submission: The entries of the participants will be submitted on-line via a web platform specified on the website of the challenge. During the development period, the participants will receive immediate feed-back on validation data released for practice purpose. For the final evaluation, the results will be computed automatically on test data submissions. The performances on test data will not be released until the challenge is over.
(h) Original work, permissions: In addition, by submitting your entry into this contest you confirm that, to the best of your knowledge:
(1) Your entry is your own original work, and
(2) Your entry only includes material that you own, or that you have permission from the copyright / trademark owner to use.

Other than what is set forth below, we are not claiming any ownership rights to your entry. However, by submitting your entry, you:
(a) Are granting us an irrevocable, worldwide right and license, in exchange for your opportunity to participate in the contest and potential prize awards, for the duration of the protection of the copyrights to:
(1) Use, review, assess, test and otherwise analyze results submitted or produced by your code (if code submission is a requirement) and other material submitted by you in connection with this contest and any future research or contests by the task organizers and other challenge sponsors;
(2) Feature your entry and all its content in connection with the promotion of this contest in all media (now known or later developed);
This license does not extend to methods, algorithms, source code used to generate your entry.
(b) Agree to sign any necessary documentation that may be required for us and our designees to make use of the rights you granted above;
(c) Understand and acknowledge that sponsors and other entrants may have developed or commissioned materials similar or identical to your submission and you waive any claims you may have resulting from any similarities to your entry;
(d) Understand that we cannot control the incoming information you will disclose to our representatives or our co-sponsor's representatives in the course of entering, or what our representatives will remember about your entry. You also understand that we will not restrict work assignments of representatives or our co-sponsor's representatives who have had access to your entry. By entering this contest, you agree that use of information in our representatives' or our co-sponsor's representatives unaided memories in the development or deployment of our products or services does not create liability for us under this agreement or copyright or trade secret law;
(e) Understand that you will not receive any compensation or credit for use of your entry, other than what is described in these official rules.
If you do not want to grant us these rights to your entry, please do not enter this contest.

Submission of entries
(a) Follow the instructions on the challenge website to submit entries, which may be done via a 'submission platform'.
(b) Unless otherwise specified on the website of the challenge, the participants will be registered as mutually exclusive teams. Each team may submit only one single final entry. We are not responsible for entries that we do not receive for any reason, or for entries that we receive but are not functioning properly.
(c) The participants are also subject to accepting the terms and conditions of the submission platform chosen to submit and score entries.
(d) The participants must follow the instructions. We will automatically disqualify incomplete or invalid entries.

In the advent of the assembly of a panel of judges to judge the entries, all judges will be forbidden to enter the contest and will be experts in causality, statistics, machine learning, or a related field, or experts in challenge organization. A list of the judges will be made available upon request. The judges may, in this case, review all eligible entries received and select the winners based upon the score on test data. The judges will verify that the winners complied with the rules, including that they documented their method. The decisions of these judges are final and binding. The distribution of prizes according to the decisions made by the judges will be made within three (3) months after completion of the last round of the contest. If we do not receive a sufficient number of entries meeting the entry requirements, we may, at our discretion based on the above criteria, not award any or all of the contest prizes below. In the event of a tie between any eligible entries, the tie will be broken by giving preference to the earliest submission, using the time stamp of the submission platform.

Cross Compass Ltd. is the financial sponsor of this contest.
(a) Prize
The prize as described on the website of the challenge will be awarded as an incentive prize to boost contest participation. Unless otherwise specified on the challenge website, to be eligible for prizes, the top ranking participants are required to publicly release their code under required license. Alternatively, they may be allowed to elect another license taken among popular OSI-approved licenses, after consulting with the task organizers. Preferred alternative licenses include Apache 2.0 license, BSD 3-Clause "New" or "Revised" license, BSD 2-Clause "Simplified" or "FreeBSD" license. Additionally, they must make their code accessible online for a period of not less than three years following the end of the challenge.

(b) Other awards
If the reviewers distinguish particularly worthy submissions, the organizers may also attribute a best submission award, typically meant for the best scoring submission, consisting of a certificate.

(c) If for any reason the advertised prizes are unavailable, unless to do so would be prohibited by law, we reserve the right to substitute a prize(s) of equal or greater value, as permitted. We will only award one prize per team. If you are selected as a potential winner of this contest:
(1) If your prize is not in cash, you may not exchange your prize for cash; you may not exchange any prize for other merchandise or services.
(2) You may not designate someone else as the winner. If you are unable or unwilling to accept your prize, we will award it to an alternate potential winner.
(3) If you accept a prize, you will be solely responsible for all applicable taxes related to accepting the prize.
(4) If you are a minor in your place of residence, we may award the prize to your parent/legal guardian on your behalf and your parent/legal guardian will be designated as the winner.

The results of the challenge will be published on-line on the website of the challenge. The organizers may make additional publication arrangements that will be specified on the website of the challenge.

If there is any change to data, schedule, instructions of participation, or these rules, the registered participants will be notified at the email they provided with the registration.
If you are a potential winner, we will notify you by sending a message to the e-mail address listed on your final entry within seven days following the determination of winners. If the notification that we send is returned as undeliverable, or you are otherwise unreachable for any reason, we may award the prize to an alternate winner, unless forbidden by applicable law.
Winners who have entered the contest as a team will be responsible to share any prize among their members. The prize will be delivered to the registered team leader. If this person becomes unavailable for any reason, the prize will be delivered to be the authorized account holder of the e-mail address used to make the winning entry.

If you are a potential winner, we may require you to sign a declaration of eligibility, use, indemnity and liability/publicity release and applicable tax forms. If you are a potential winner and are a minor in your place of residence, and we require that your parent or legal guardian will be designated as the winner, and we may require that they sign a declaration of eligibility, use, indemnity and liability/publicity release on your behalf. If you, (or your parent/legal guardian if applicable), do not sign and return these required forms within the time period listed on the winner notification message, we may disqualify you (or the designated parent/legal guardian) and select an alternate selected winner.

We will post changes in the rules or changes in the data as well as the names of confirmed winners (after contest decisions are made by the judges) online on the website of the challenge. This list will remain posted for one year or will be made available upon request by sending email to flrc.contact@gmail.com.

By entering this contest you agree to the following conditions:
(a) To abide by these official rules;
(b) To the extent allowable under applicable law, to release and hold harmless the organizing team, and other sponsors, their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees and agents from any and all liability or any injury, loss, damage, right, claim or action of any kind arising from or in connection with this contest or any prize won save for residents of the United Kingdom, Chile, Korea, Greece, Brazil, Turkey, Hong Kong, France and Germany with respect to claims resulting from death or personal injury arising from organizers' and other sponsors' negligence, for residents of the United Kingdom with respect to claims resulting from the tort of deceit or any other liabilities that may not be excluded by law, and for residents of Australia in respect of any implied condition or warranty the exclusion of which from these official rules would contravene any statute or cause any part of these official rules to be void;
(c) That organizers' decisions will be final and binding on all matters related to this contest;
(d) That by accepting a prize, organizers and sponsors may use your team name, your name, and your place of residence online and in print, or in any other media, in connection with this contest, without payment or compensation to you. The declaration of eligibility, use, indemnity and liability/publicity release provided to the potential winner will make reference to obtaining his/her free consent to use his/her name and place of residence. In any case, the lack of such consent does not prevent the winner from receiving the prize.
(e) This contest will be governed by the laws of Japan, and you consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the courts of Japan for any disputes arising out of this contest. Withdrawal may be allowed upon contacting the organizers, left at the discretion of the organizers and judges of this contest, within seven days of your entry. If you withdraw within seven days of entry, provided it's allowed, your submission will be returned to you, and we will not make any use of your submission in the future. However, you will not be eligible to win a prize. If you do not withdraw within seven days of entry, you will be bound by the provisions of these official rules. For residents of the United Kingdom only: the provisions of the contracts (rights of third parties) act 1999 will not apply to this agreement. For residents of New Zealand only: the provisions of the contracts (privity) act of 1982 will not apply to this agreement. For Quebec residents: any litigation respecting the conduct or organization of a publicity contest may be submitted to the Regie des Alcools, des Courses et des Jeux for ruling. Any litigation respecting the awarding of a prize may be submitted to the Regie only for the purpose of helping the parties reach a settlement. For residents of Israel only: this agreement does not entitle third parties to benefits under this agreement as defined in Chapter "D" of the Contracts Act (General Part), 1973.

If an unforeseen or unexpected event (including, but not limited to: someone cheating; a virus, bug, or catastrophic event corrupting data or the submission platform; someone discovering a flaw in the data or modalities of the challenge; very low participation in the challenge) that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, (also referred to as force majeure) affects the fairness and / or integrity of this contest, we reserve the right to cancel, change or suspend this contest. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error. If a solution cannot be found to restore the integrity of the contest, we reserve the right to select winners based on the criteria specified above from among all eligible entries received before we had to cancel, change or suspend the contest subject to obtaining the approval from the Regie des Alcools, des Courses et des Jeux with respect to the province of Quebec. Computer "hacking" is unlawful. If you attempt to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this contest by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in any way, we may seek damages from you to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we may ban you from participating in any of our future contests, so please play fairly.

Cross Compass Ltd. is the sponsor of this contest.
2-9-11-9F Shinkawa, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0033

During the development phase of the contest and when they submit their final entries, contest participants do not need to disclose their real identity, but must provide a valid email address where we can be deliver notifications to them regarding the contest. To be eligible for prizes, however, contest participants will need to disclose their real identity to contest organizers, informing them by email of their name, professional affiliation, and address. To enter the contest, the participants will need to become users of the web-based submission platform. Any profile information stored on this platform can be viewed and edited by the users. After the contest, the participants may cancel their account with the submission platform and cease to be users of that platform. All personal information will then be destroyed. The submission platform privacy policy will apply to contest information submitted by participants on that platform. Otherwise, this competitions' privacy policy will apply to this contest and to all information that we receive from your entry that we receive directly from you or which you have submitted as part of your contest entry on the submission platform. Please read the privacy policy on the contest entry page before accepting the official rules and submitting your entry. Please note that by accepting the official rules you are also accepting the terms of the privacy policy.


Ready to submit? Move to the 'submission' tab!


We simply require two things:

1) write a code that returns 1 if the data is from a real living system, and 0 if it's not

2) include a very short PDF description of your measure in English (yes, here Math will be accepted as a subset of English).


The submissions must be written in Python. Do not forget to add a PDF file briefly describing the inspiration for your algorithm.

You must modify the 'predictor' function in the submission.py file and call your own algorithm inside this function.

Note that predictor() takes a file path as parameter, so you can test the function locally on the datasets you have downloaded.


Once you are done, compress the "starting_k" file back to a .zip file and make your submission through the 'submission' tab on this page.

Again, please be reminded that learning algorithms are not allowed, for they would not yield an explanation of why they work. In case of any doubt, please email us.


Start: Aug. 12, 2019, midnight

Description: Please upload a zip file, containing your submission and a PDF concisely explaining your measure.

Competition Ends

Feb. 16, 2020, midnight

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