“’You work hard...but what do you do for fun?’ people will ask me. Well, the fact is that I’ve tried to set up my life so that the things I work on are things I find fun. [... ] Sometimes I work on things that just come up, and that for one reason or another I find interesting and fun. [...] It [ the paradigm for thinking] all centers around the idea of computation, and the generality of abstraction to which it leads. Whether I’m thinking about science, or technology, or philosophy, or art, the computational paradigm provides both an overall framework and specific facts that inform my thinking. [...] I often urge people to ‘keep their thinking apparatus engaged’ even when they’re faced with issues that don’t specifically seem to be in their domains of expertise.”
In “Adventures of a Computational Explorer” by Stephen Wolfram
“The real payoff comes not from doing well in the class, but from internalizing that way of thinking or that knowledge so it becomes part of you.”
In “Adventures of a Computational Explorer” by Stephen Wolfram
What do “Arrival”, “Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems”, TCE (Theory of Computational Equivalence), Theory of Computational Irreducibility (TCI), AI, Coding, ..., Physics (e.g., Quantum Mechanics], Computer Science have in common? Stephen Wolfram.
Back in the day as I was attending university there was a turf war between those who used Mathematica and those who used Mathlab. I didn’t side with the crowd that thought Mathlab was better than Mathematica. And I’m talking about Mathematica 2.0 (the version that run on MS-DOS). Why did I choose Mathematica and not Mathlab you may ask. At the time people often got surprised with the grades I was getting in math subjects: Calculus, Linear Algebra, and others of the sort, you can use Mathematica for. Even after I finished college, I remained a die-hard Mathematica aficionado. I couldn't even consider any package without symbolic capabilities and Mathematica had plenty of those to go around! You could just do so much more symbolically than you could if you were constrained to numerical routines and that’s what Mathlab was for in my view at the time. In retrospect I’d say Mathematica and Mathlab are designed to do different things, i.e., what you pick should depend on your intentions. You could do some things with Mathlab that Mathematica is better for and vice-versa, but the process of doing so and the result will suffer more than necessary. It’s up to you really. Calculus I, II, II, and IV, Linear Algebra I and II, Thermodynamics, Mechanics I and II, Nuclear Physics, Numerical Analysis II and II, etc. Those were some of my Course Subjects in college. I could handle lists and matrices easily, plus all the best mathematical functions were there; nowadays the Mathematica 2.0 that I knew and loved has come a long way: extremely sophisticated graphics visualizations, that allow me, for instance, to make and visualize an animated gradient descent, animate different weights for a given neural network, choose a specific ML algorithm and automatically classify the data-set in classes, plot stunning 3D visualizations, make animations and manipulate variables on the run at the same time I see the results of the outputs. The version I just checked out even comes with all libraries integrated! It's a great software and a great symbolic language; if you want to be serious in ML and you know the formulae for the algorithms, you can build them from scratch, in a completely customized way, i.e, you're the master of your own destiny! You can also do face recognition, geolocation of objects with 3D plots of map surface, handle cellular automata like any other and develop social networks models with AI completely customized. You can even develop all kinds of DIY projects. As Wolfram states: “As of now we are up to Mathematica 12, with nearly 6000 functions and counting.” I just wish I was still in college...as soon as I don't have something better to do with my time, I'll post something regarding one of my projects using Mathematica.
I'm not sure how many will read a book like Wolfram’s. The anti `expert`bias coming from some sectors of society cannot be overlooked, unless you accept that you need to learn things from people who understand them better than you do, there is no point in even trying to learn new concepts. It seems to me that the more innately ignorant a person actually is, the more they hold firm to their own ignorance. Until you want to learn new things, you never will & most people prefer not to be challenged in what they want to be true. If you tell them they are simply mistaken they are annoyed, if you go on to explain why they are wrong, they just get angry & defensive. They defend even outright lies, with ferocious single minded determination. They seem to believe that being entitled to their own opinion, implies that they are entitled to their own facts: they are not...Well, as the saying goes, most people are fuckwits. Wolfram can talk and write about anything through the lens of knowledge, behind the lenses of his prescription tortoiseshell Ray-Bans, and make it come alive, with some clever jump-cutting in post-production. What more can I ask for? At least Wolfram does not pretend to be a prophet à la Kurzweil; that would unbearable. I much prefer Wolfram the way he is. In a universe where so much of our pop-science books are utter facile pablum, this book is a breath of fresh air. Whatever happened to substance and respect for mind from whatever corner of the globe? I refuse to be defined by my clothes, hair or the pigment of my skin. It might be out-of-date now, but that was what we were taught as kids in the 1980s, to question absolutely everything with the slightest semblance to authority or group mindedness, uniforms, appearance, the outer accoutrements of mere identity were never to be what defined us. Did they teach us wrong? I do however recall there being a kind of "intellectual" remit that seemed to slowly evaporate (loss of nerve in wider populist competition). Was it really radical? Only to the extent academia and arts will always challenge convention. So radical enough? Not for some. But substantial certainly. There might be another explanation for the loss of "intellectual" edge, and that is simply that had a certain edge going out of fashion nowadays. Yes, Beckett was a great (the most profound) comedian. But you can't keep depressing that peddle. Letting go the intellect might in a sense be almost a Daoist wisdom. Life is so short after all. My own view on this is actually ambivalent and subject to contrasting voice. Nobody ever knows anymore more than a tiny subset of human knowledge, possible the last who ever did - or ever will - was Newton and Leibniz? This means that every single one of us has almost limitless vista`s of ignorance inside them, wisdom begins only when we realise that fact. Only rather a lot of people think `expert` is a deep insult, it is simply not. Today's pop-science books audience gravitate towards the Great Bake off, The Apprentice, Love Island. Why? Not because people are stupid but most alternative ideas, on a popular level, don't make sense in a world that fundamentally doesn't look like it's for turning, or indeed that can it be turned. Hence, the audience for pop-science books that pass time rather than ones that 'overthink' things: thinking pop-science books arise when there is appetite for change generally. The question is the: "do we want to change?" The same happens with the Tube.
I was one of those who delighted in watching Open University programmes early in the morning, even if I didn't know much about calculus or differential equations at the time. I preferred the sociological and historical units, but the science/maths lectures and demonstrations could be fascinating - and, of course, worth it for the hang-glider collars and fractal patterns on those shirts. (I may have learned more about aerodynamics and the maths of chaos from the clothes than the lectures!). The golden age of the radio sage was before my time (1930s-1950s); they still represent the dying embers of what once was in that medium and while philippics and jeremiads are easy and tempting to produce on here ('Woe, woe and thrice woe, we are undone' etc, etc), there is something less about modern intellectualism. Pop-Science has certainly dumbed itself down. Where's all the genuine investigative science journalism gone? Too many professional science intellectuals writing appalling stuff nowadays and they're all shit anyway. The mediocre-minded might rail about consistency or moral or intellectual clarity but they what they just write is proper comedy. Deft and ludic. Spectrum scarcity is over. Internet delivery means the old gatekeepers (e.g., pop-science publishers) have been largely dis-empowered and can no longer get away with giving a mass audience stuff they don't want...
Loved Wolfram's take on QC. How a feasible QC would operate, and if anyone could make it work it would have to be Prof Hayden and all. My best guess is a format that resembles the natural Quantum Fields Mechanism in the first few fluctuations of probability dominance dimensions using a synchronized/modulated matrix of frequencies that identify each dimension and can be read from scattered interference. The photonics design that has been suggested seems likely? Is this why Bose-Einstein condensates are "hot"?
The naturally occurring QC is "everything everywhere all at once" connection and the readout is cause-effect, so the answer to the question put in is the question of the answer. Programming is not a repeat-cloned possibility so all possible paths of inquiry have to be explored simultaneously, which is probably the explanation of the question-answer of "what is life"?, life is the question of self sustaining continuity and not only is novelty and differences natural and normal, life ceases by accumulated errors if change is not pursued. At this level it is the instinctive requirement of curiosity. By these deductions, this is essential research, but any device is most likely an enhancement of the human mind, the centaur model?
There is also no reason to allow yourself to be irritated by Wolfram's mannerisms if I may call them that. This guy is cracking the codes of life, physics and the universe. I've never read such an idea-dense book of this length before. Let the profundity of content drown out the minor distractions. Scientists like Stephen Wolfram have never claimed to know all the answers. If they did, they'd be out of a job. Although what's equally funny is that those who use the phrase "science doesn't have all the answers" cam rarely point to a question where somebody in some other discipline actually does. That’s what this compilation of his blog essays are all about: questions.
Also loved the chapters on Wolfram’s Personal Infrastructure (some nice juicy hacks), “scientific Bug Hunting in the Cloud” which highly resonated with me, because I also did some of that stuff for a living when I was SAPSYSAdmin back in the day. Wolfram is a hacker at heart that also became a CEO...
NB: Too bad Wolfram didn't apply his Cellular Automata to QM (he’s got a sub-chapter “Reversibility, Irreversibility and More” in this book but the content is very light; maybe he made a full approach in his “A New Kind of Science” but I haven’t read it). I'd have liked to read his take on it. Is there a difference between both? My take is that there's one simple difference: automata theory is deterministic and global while quantum theory is nondeterministic and local which makes quantum theory a specific case of automata theory the way special relativity is a special case of general relativity. And one simple similarity between quantum theory and automata theory is that they are both topologically invariant and variant respectively through proper time configurations as special relativity and general relativity are morphologically invariant and variant through space-time manifold. The universe is governed by a SINGLE probability wave function and the quantum field of the virtual particles (empty space) is the basis of all physical reality, that define entanglement, entropy and can self simulate intelligent conscious 'observer' that collapses the field into real particles (matter). The real matter is fine tuned to self-organize and self-simulate a quantum computing function of thousands of qubits, self-error correcting all the systems and all the processes, from how a planet revolve around their star, how photosynthesis produce food for all plants. The QC is triggered by the single probability wave defining the infinite dimensional QC function. What we need is an algorithm that enable the QC to perform all the processes in the universe, eliminating randomness and chance, producing life out of non-life matter. Life is also a QC (all five senses, our brain and all our cells act as a QC), repairing/regenerating 50-70 billion damaged cells daily at 99.99 % efficiency and at lightning speed, or producing protein as required.