As computers become progressively faster and more powerful, they’ve gained the impressive capacity to simulate increasingly realistic environments. Which raises a question familiar to aficionados of The Matrix—might life and the world as we know it be a simulation on a super advanced computer? “Digital physicists” have developed this idea well beyond the sci-fi possibilities, suggesting a new scientific paradigm in which computation is not just a tool for approximating reality but is also the basis of reality itself. In place of elementary particles, think bits; in place of fundamental laws of physics, think computer algorithms.

But is this a viable approach? Is the universe the ultimate computer running some grand cosmic code? Join a discussion among the brightest minds in digital physics to explore math, computer science, theories of consciousness, the origin of life, and free will—and delve into a world of information that may underlie everything.

Moderator: John Hockenberry
Edward Fredkin
Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Seth Lloyd

Twitter: #WSF11