Wolfram Wolfram Wolfram
Submitted by DavidRosen on Sat, 2006-02-04 14:45
In class I feel we are giving Wolfram much more credit than he is due. The idea of molecular determinism (that everything is a result of a starting condition and a set of rules) has been around for over a century, and even the idea of the universe functioning like a giant cellular automaton was first suggested by Konrad Zuse in 1967. Maybe next he will talk about his brilliant new idea that DNA has a double helix structure, or that energy and mass are different sides of the same coin. Aside from that, I am not convinced of the importance of the idea that the universe is a giant CA. This seems like a fairly typical example of using new technology as an analogy for everything. Back when the steam engine was new, Freud had a great idea that the mind worked by building up and venting pressure. Then when telephones became popular, the mind became a giant switchboard. Filling in scientific voids with the latest technology is tempting, but not necessarily valid or important. Not only that, but saying that the universe is a giant CA still begs the question, "Why?" Where did it come from? Why are the rules such as they are? It does not really model or explain anything new that traditional molecular determinism does not.