The Computational Nature of Space-Time?

Two good SciFI novels I’ve read recently:

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

River of Gods by Ian McDonald

Both follow a trend I’ve noticed in modern SciFi. Quantum Mechanics, and to some extent String Theory, seem to have moved into genre canon.

As hard sciences go, if you can call these hard sciences, both String Theory and Quantum Mechanics use very romantic language to describe the processes they model. Not only does the language lend itself to good prose, the incomplete nature of the theory and the strangeness of the results blend seamlessly into fiction.

Given that this is great material to work with, I’m not surprised that SciFi authors are writing about it a lot. The reason I mention these two books together is because they arrive at a similar place once they depart from common theory. The idea the authors present is that at its lowest and most fundamental level, matter and space are capable of computation.

My question then is the following: Are there any grounds to believe that computation is something fundamental about space-time? I’ve read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene and I don’t remember any established theory pointing in this direction.

The Computational Nature of Space-Time?

3 thoughts on “The Computational Nature of Space-Time?

  1. Higher physics twists my brain inside out–it allows for paradoxes, multiple/parallel universes, all sorts of phenomenon and brings to mind that old Arthur C. Clarke-ism “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

    If I read the Greene book, my head would explode. Who would a person sue for something like that?

  2. I think your question is incoherent. Scads of physical systems can be used for computation at various scales, and obviously the fundamental laws of physics is the system underlying all of those forms of computation, however indirectly. Pretty much any physical event (macro or femto) can be interpreted as a computation of some sort. The only question is what the scale is: how small can you arrange a system of matter to implement a turing-equivalent machine?

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