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Lloyd, Professor Seth - The Universe as Quantum computer



Type of Spiritual Experience



This paper is not entirely satisfactory as it tries to shoehorn the current theories of physicists into a model of the universe as a system.

But what is key is that at last physicists are recognising that the universe is a system and works in an analogously similar way [and this is key] to a computer.

The universe is not a computer, it is the software on a computer, but a physicist [being physical] is not likely to come at it from this angle.

Even though his paper answers his two questions somewhat ambiguously, the answer to both questions he asks is yes, because we run numerous computer systems that simulate the systems of the universe.

And the universe computes because it is a predictable system.  In fact, we would be unable to write simulation programs unless it was a system.

A description of the experience

The Universe as Quantum computer – Professor Seth Lloyd

The physical universe bears little resemblance to the collection of wires, transistors and electrical circuitry that makes up a conventional digital computer.  How then can one claim that the universe is a computer?  The answer lies in the definition of computation, of which Turing was the primary developer.

According to Turing, a universal digital computer is a system that can be programmed to perform any desired sequence of logical operations.  Turing’s invention of the universal Turing machine makes this notion precise.

The question of whether the universe is itself a universal digital computer can be broken down into two parts

  1. Does the universe compute? And
  2. Does the universe do nothing more than compute?

More precisely

  1. Is the universe capable of performing universal digital computation in the sense of Turing?  That is can the universe or some part of it be programmed to simulate a universal Turing machine
  2. Can a universal Turing machine efficiently simulate the dynamics of the universe itself?

The source of the experience

Lloyd, Professor Seth

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps