The idea is this: For every 3 x 3 neighborhood, there are 512 possible combinations of black and white. Assign each of the possible combinations a random "energy," say between 0 and 511. This sets up the rules, a sort of imaginary physics for the game.
The board starts in some initial state, and then you flip one square at a time, only making flips that reduce the total energy for the board.
I imagined this would do something like crystalization. Well, not yet, although it is doing something. Some things to try next: rules that are symmetrical, rules that are smoothed so that similar states have similar energies, and doing something more like real annealing.