Thursday, October 24, 2002

Blind Faith and the March of Science

Steve Wolfram speaks at PopTech:

"Any system whose behavior doesn't look obviously simple to us is as simple as any computational system," said Wolfram, explaining the principle of computational equivalence. "All processes can be viewed as computations."

"His book is really a bible of computational view," said Jordan Pollock, professor of computer science and complex systems at Brandeis University, who also spoke at this year's PopTech. "Over the last 50 years we've come to view lots of things in the world -- the mind, the immune system -- from the point of view of computer science."

And even those who admitted not fully understanding Wolfram's theory left the session in awe. "I thought it was exactly like fireworks," said Harvey Ardman, program director for PopTech. "It was brilliant, it was fascinating and it was incomprehensible."

Forgive my skepticism, but if everything is so simple, shouldn't people have left understanding what the hell he was talking about? While I can appreciate the principle of Occam's Razor, let's just step back a moment and think about the implications of "reality" being reduced to a set of computational algorithms...


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