Παρασκευή, 13 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

On the Computing Spacetime

Fotini Markopoulou has published a paper entitled The Computing Spacetime. The first sentence of this paper is: That the Universe can be thought of as a giant computation is a straightforward corollary of the existence of a universal Turing machine. This is a very bold statement, to say the least. We have absolutely no idea what are the (ultimate) laws of the universe and yet we can immediately prove that it is a gigantic computer! Now let's see the proof:
The laws of physics allow for a machine, the universal Turing machine, such that its possible motions correspond to all possible motions of all possible physical objects. That is, a universal quantum computer can simulate every physical entity and its behavior. This means that physics, the study of all possible physical systems, is isomorphic to the study of all programs that could run on a universal quantum computer. We can think of our universe as software running on a universal computer.
First let me remark that Markopoulou confuses universal Turing machines with universal quantum computers, which means, I suppose, that she assumes that the Church-Turing thesis is valid. Second, it is known that the Turing machine operates in a Newtonian universe and naturally does not take under consideration any quantum phenomena. Third, to say that physics is essentially equivalent to the study of quantum programming is a fallacy because we have no idea what are the ultimate laws of universe. Unless, of course, we assume that fairytale physics is real physics. In this case, it is crystal clear that we are talking nonsense.

As with fairytale physics, the problem with the the-Universe-is-a-computer paradigm is that there is no experimental evidence that actually the universe computes something. In fact, I am pretty sure that this is something like an Illuminati conspiracy theory rather than a real scientific theory. Naturally, please bear on mind that the problem of quantifying gravity has not been solved yet.

PS Today (20/02/2014) I discovered a preprint entitled  The Universe is not a Computer. In this paper the author puts forth an interesting argument against the validity of the idea that the universe is a computer.

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