The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Computing

In 1960, the physicist Eugene Wigner published an article titled The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, arguing that the way in which the mathematical structure of a physical theory often points the way to further advances in that theory and even to empirical predictions, is not a coincidence but must reflect some larger and deeper truth about both mathematics and physics.

Is computing the deeper “truth” about mathematics and physics and reality in general? Is the true nature of reality computational? — The universe as cellular automation operating on simple rules at very small discrete scales giving rise to emergent properties at larger scales.

Front cover of Wired issue 16.07 – “The End of Science” contends that “The quest for knowledge used to begin with grand theories. Now it begins with massive amounts of data.”

John Horgan’s 1996 book – The End of Science: Facing the Limit of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age covers perception of the slowing down of science: “Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known?”

Scientific American: The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe describes a discrete, self-organizing, fractal, computational model of space-time: “Causal Dynamical Triangulations.” At smaller scales the model is discrete, at larger scales classical and quantum properties of space-time emerge.

Is a computational theory of reality the future of science? Are we at a threshold of science where theory is irrelevant or at least unverifiable without computing? Does the increasing use of computational modeling of the physical world point towards the inevitability of a “computational theory of everything”?

Is computing the new “Queen of the Sciences”?

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