Although Greg Egan's Diaspora
and Permutation City
have already been brought up, allow me to draw your attention to another of his novels, Schild's Ladder
, which also has some good stuff on this subject.
HenryS wrote:The Swiss patent office reference implies that desert guy is Einstein.
I didn't read it that way. I read it as him choosing Einstein as a comparison that would be meaningful to us.
luff wrote:It's great to see that this idea is spreading. Imagine having an infinite, but empty HDD. What would you do with it? Start filling it of course, would be a waste otherwise. Fill it with what?
Well, porn, of course. Duh.
And probably music and games too.
Kaiyas wrote:Now that's real programming.
Perhaps we can appeal to the guy in the desert to go back a few decillion rows and alter the universe so that our own desired programs naturally appear on our hard drives?
... Except that his
definition of "naturally appear" probably correlates to "programmer designs code, implements it, tests, fixes bugs, finds out what the real
requirements were, etc". Oh well.
EmpJohnIV wrote:I wonder if there can be a pattern like Wolfram 110 that can handle fuzzy logic? Where the size of the rocks, or their orientation can matter. I have been thinking about the opinion that our universe is not distinct (which I have no knowledge ether way), a continuum, something that does not 'tick' forward. I have a gut feeling that adding fuzzy logic could help with this problem and even some of the quantum weirdness.
I don't know if the fuzzy-logic thing would help the guy in the desert much. Sure, he'd have fewer rocks in each row, but imagine the time he'd have to spend shaping each rock to fit the requirements (or worse, trying to find a rock of exactly
the right size and shape) for each spot.
As for whether it's possible as a concept, if you make it discrete (say, allow only 8 different categories of rock size) then it's essentially just a packing scheme and can be implemented as a cellular automaton, though you would then have to allow cells to depend on more than their immediate neighbours (in the unpacked view). If it's continuous, so that the rules are along the lines of "If there is a rock of size x at position i-1, and a rock of size y at position i, and no rock at position i+1, then the result for position i is a rock of size f(x, y)", then I don't think you could do this.
The whole concept of a cellular automaton depends on a time 'tick'. If you're simulating a universe with it, I don't see that it necessarily follows that the simulated universe must also have a time 'tick', but I find it very hard to imagine how it could not.