From a Simple Code Emerges Complexity

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Computer scientist Jürgen Schmidhuber proposes that the information content of anything you can see, touch, and think about in the physical world—from the billions of synapses in your brain to the apparent richness of reality—can be defined by a very short program, or “a few lines of code.” Similar to how fractal geometry emerges from a simple mathematical equation, or how one strand of DNA contains all the instructions needed to build a living organism, Schmidhuber posits that complexity and seeming randomness in the universe may emerge from a relatively short set of instructions. 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]