Cosmology Intelligent Design

Pancomputationalism: Everything is a computation?

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Hugh Ross offers at Reasons to Believe:

Question of the week: What are your thoughts on pancomputationalism? How does it impact the fine-tuning argument for a personal God?

My answer: Pancomputationalism is the claim that all physical systems—galaxies, stars, rocks, dust, gas, molecules, atoms, protons, a pair of scissors—either continually or intermittently perform computations. Pancomputationalism is akin to digital physics. Digital physics is the belief that the universe either is a digital computation device constantly producing information or is the output from some kind of computer or computer program existing outside the universe. (April 29, 2022)

Hadn’t heard that one.

5 Replies to “Pancomputationalism: Everything is a computation?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Old song:

    If I had a hammer,
    I’d theorize in the morning,
    I’d theorize in the evening,
    all the day long.
    I’d hammer out monographs,
    I’d hammer out articles,
    all saying that the world is a nail
    for my hammer to bang.

  2. 2
    johnnyb says:

    Another name for it is “the physical Church-Turing thesis”. It’s not so much about “if all I had was a hammer…” – instead it is more of a worldview issue. Computation *is* the limits of what can be done if we ultimately live in a finitistic universe with hard causal limits centered around that. I don’t believe we do, and I think that at least the mind (possibly other entities) transcends the finitistic model.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    If our Universe – including us – is the output of some computation, what difference does it make? In what way would that hypothesis help us in any way? How could we ever test it? Should we be bowing down to the great god HAL-9000?

  4. 4
    johnnyb says:

    Seversky –

    The reason why it is important is that computer science has a very large literature on what is and isn’t computable. Therefore, if the universe *is* computation-only, then it can limit the number of causes we need to entertain when looking for potential causes of effects. Iris Van Rooij talks about this in the Tractable Cognition Thesis. Additionally, if the universe is computable, there are likely whole lot of data science theory that can be imported into physics almost directly.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, well, err, ah, Physics is about mathematically framed laws, such can be said to be an array or even a process flow information sharing network that goes to macro equilibrium? So, why not think of a global model? But then, think about precision? Sustained for 14 BY? Nonlinear in key parts so, likely full of butterfly effect issues in the long run? Or is there enough stabilising feedback with enough margin around the loops to remain stable? KF

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