Rebooting the Cosmos: Is the Universe the Ultimate Computer?
Date & Time
Saturday, June 4, 2011
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
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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 place of fundamental laws of physics, think computer algorithms. But is this a viable approach? Is the universe the ultimate computer running some grand cosmic code? A discussion among the brightest minds in digital physics to explore math, computer science, theories of consciousness, the origin of life, and free will—and delve into a world of information that may underlie everything.
More from this series: Rebooting the Cosmos
John HockenberryJohn Hockenberry is an award-winning journalist with twenty-five years experience in radio, broadcast television and print. He is the host of WNYC and PRI’s The Takeaway, a correspondent for PBS Frontline, and a noted presenter and moderator at conferences such as TED, Aspen Ideas, and the World Science Festival. More »
Edward FredkinComputer Scientist Fredkin has been broadly interested in computation: hardware and software. He is the inventor of many things including the Trie data structure, the Fredkin Gate and the Billiard Ball Model. Fredkin and his students did pioneering work on cellular automata and reversible computing. He has also been involved in computer vision, chess and other areas of AI research. More »
Fotini Markopoulou-KalamaraTheoretical Physicist A founding member and faculty at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, a research institute devoted to foundational issues in theoretical physics, Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara is a leading researcher in the problem of quantum gravity. More »
Jürgen SchmidhuberComputer Scientist, Artist Jürgen Schmidhuber has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers on artificial intelligence, machine learning, mathematically optimal universal AI, artificial curiosity and creativity, adaptive robotics, algorithmic information and complexity theory, computable universes and digital physics, the formal theory of beauty, and fine arts. More »
Seth LloydMechanical Engineer Working with a variety of groups to construct and operate quantum computers and quantum communication systems, Seth Lloyd is the first person to develop a realizable model for quantum computation. His research focuses on the role of information in complex systems and the quantum mechanics of living systems (known as `quantum life'), economics, and cosmology. More »