Wolfram Science Group
Phoenix, AZ USA
Registered: Aug 2003
The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul
Rudy Rucker's new book is shipping. You can buy it from Amazon, here -
Rucker's summary -
"We're presently in the midst of a third intellectual revolution. The first came with Newton: the planets obey physical laws. The second came with Darwin: biology obeys genetic laws. In today’s third revolution, were coming to realize that even minds and societies emerge from interacting laws that can be regarded as computations. Everything is a computation.
"Does this, then, mean that the world is dull? Far from it. The naturally occurring computations that surround us are richly complex. A tree's growth, the changes in the weather, the flow of daily news, a person's ever-changing moods --- all of these computations share the crucial property of being gnarly. Although lawlike and deterministic, gnarly computations are --- and this is a key point --- inherently unpredictable. The world's mystery is preserved.
"Mixing together anecdotes, graphics, and fables, Rucker teases out the implications of his new worldview, which he calls "universal automatism." His analysis reveals startling aspects of the everyday world, touching upon such topics as chaos, the internet, fame, free will, and the pursuit of happiness. More than a popular science book, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul is a philosophical entertainment that teaches us how to enjoy our daily lives to the fullest possible extent."
I've read an advanced draft of this and can strongly recommend it to anyone who likes big ideas. Rucker explains how he found computation everywhere, the lively and intriguing aspect this gave to everything he looked at, gives us detailed formal results in places and several of his trademark thought experiments in fiction, and relates all of it to big questions of mind, personality, and philosophy. Throughout, he manages to convey his intellectual enthusiasm for the subject and shows his free spirit. This is a fun book.
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