Please bear with me, memories are vague. I'm looking for the name of a short scifi story, by a fairly prominent author IIRC, where a person was evolving "pet artificial life" in their basement. Written circa 2000, I think.
As the story proceeded the life got increasingly more complex. It started off simple but became gradually more well-defined and intelligent, resembling organisms, and later evolved a civilization. The evolution kept speeding up until one day the person came back to find his "artificial creatures" managed to break out of the confinement he imposed on them. The civilization basically became smarter than humans, and escaped ?into another dimension? via some new physics it invented, in a singularity event.
I'm not 100% sure, but I think the life was digital = evolving in a computer. But I may be wrong about that. In any case, the life was super tiny / not visible, so if not digital, maybe microscopic / nanotech or something.
Fairly short, perhaps 20 pages in total.
What I remember from the story is that the person tried to set up restrictions for what his creation could do without harming them, making the constraints ever more sophisticated as the life became smarter and smarter. But in the end, they managed to escape anyway (they vanished, basically, without harming the person or anyone else).
EDIT: I just went through short stories of Ted Chiang, because I thought it might have been him. But no luck there :(