The future of generative art.
As provocatively beautiful and fascinating generative art can be (and challenging to any definition of art: with interactive generative art, who is the artist? The interacting “viewer”? Or the programmer?), imagine how far the idea can go:
Imagine downloading all the info in a single physical tree cell and generating a virtual clone of said tree in the computer. This would be an “ideal” form of the tree (if the tree had grown on ideal amounts of water, minerals, sunlight, etc…perfectly natural, in an environment untouched by man). Next, a series of parameters would be developed. Parameters such as where the tree grows (incorporating pollution levels, average weather conditions, etc.), with which the computer generates a more accurate clone of the tree - one more true to life. Now we can ask the computer to (given all the adjusted parameters) generate the tree as it will be 5, 10, 50 years from now or was 5, 10, 50 years ago.
Applying this sort of technology to create virtual humans can have all sorts of benefits. With given DNA info, given diet, quality of life, amount of time spent driving, spent walking and exercising, given cholesterol and body fat percentage, etc., you can have your own virtual clone (one that will not take over your life). Now imagine the benefits to, say, a cancer patient: given cancer patient has had an undiagnosed tumor for three months…generate the tumor 1, 2, 3, 4 months in the future with and without a new experimental treatment and we’ve brought generative art all the way to generative medicine and biology.
Generate into the past and we’ve arrived at generative paleontology, anthropology, (…) and essentially, time travel.
*** See some generative art here on Superfamous' blog entry. See some interactive generative art here under the heading "experiments." Thanks to nicksoni for his entry regarding Tomohiro Terashima.