Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Universe as a Computer and the Omega Point

A book by Charles Seife, entitled "Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes", was commented in Betterhumans. In particular, the concept of the Cosmos as a big computer was highlighted.

I don't know about the other ideas of the book, but at this moment of cosmic evolution I don't regard the "Universe as a computer" concept very interesting.

We know that the Universe makes computations, because we and our machines are members of it. Besides that, almost any physical process entails a computation. The real question is if the Universe is computing something really big and not obvious. I believe that the probability of that going on at this moment of the cosmic history is almost zero.

There are many non-sentient processes and objects in the Universe. Perhaps there are some other civilizations, apart from ours. All this equals to a very big number crunching process. It may be an extremely massive computation, but today’s situation is a not too clever one: pure consequence of randomness and selection of stable patterns. Being it so simple and gross, the idea of the Universe as a computer doesn't seem a powerful concept.

An Omega situation, even if it were loosely related to Teilhard de Chardin* or Tipler** ideas, would give a clear purpose to the whole computation, making it relevant as a concept. But, at this moment, these kind of grandiose ideas are no more than mind candy.

*(A good introduction to the original Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the Omega Point can be read at The Phenomenon of Man)
**(Tipler's modern approach to Omega can be read at The Physics of Immortality)


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