Rebooting the Cosmos: Is the Universe the Ultimate Computer?

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.

The World Science Festival gathers great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that allows a broad general audience to engage with scientific discoveries. Our mission is to cultivate a general public informed by science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for all the latest from WSF.
Visit our Website:
Like us on Facebook:
Follow us on twitter:

Original Program Date: June 4, 2011
MODERATOR: John Hockenberry
PARTICIPANTS: Edward Fredkin, Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Seth Lloyd

John Hockenberry’s Introduction 00:00

Is the Universe Digital? 06:13

Participant Introductions. 09:39

Did digital physics rise because we need to define the universe as something? 11:35

Is Quantum Mechanics considered digital? 13:49

What events in the universe give us incites on being computational? 18:28

Exchanging information is more important than space time.26:51

What is the history of the results leading to a computational universe? 32:05

Who’s the programmer and wheres the computer? 37:29

Is it possible for black holes to be coded instructions to the universe? 46:49

Computers are irreversible can you build something that is reversible?54:50

Does a reversible computer simulate the conservation of information idea? 01:00:00

How do we prove we are in a simulated Universe? 01:04:54

What is the NSA’s primary goal with quantum computers? 01:13:30

How does knowing the code that has programmed the universe what does that get us? 01:18:48

Does Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle make it about the particle or the information? 01:24:26
Scroll Up