Digital Physics: The Pioneering Konrad Zuse

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Konrad Zuse, a painter and inventor of the first program-driven computer, saw in his invention parallels with the world around him. In his book, Rechnender Raum (translated as Calculating Space) he posed a radical notion: that the universe operates based on a set of basic on/off instructions similar to that of cellular automata. Fellow computer scientists Edward Fredkin and Jürgen Schmidhuber reminisce about Zuse, his work, and the ideas that kick-started serious thought in the realm of digital physics.

More from this series: Rebooting the Cosmos

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Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: John Hockenberry
Participants: Edward Fredkin, Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Seth Lloyd

As computers become progressively faster and more powerful, they’ve gained the impressive capacity to simulate increasingly realistic environments. Which raises a question familiar to aficionados of The Matrix—might life and the world as we know it be a simulation on a super advanced computer? “Digital physicists” have developed this idea well beyond the sci-fi possibilities, suggesting a new scientific paradigm in which computation is not just a tool for approximating reality, but is also the basis of reality itself. In place of elementary particles, think bits; in...[Read more]