Autodidactic Universe

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* Article: The Autodidactic Universe. By Lee Smolin, Jaron Lanier, et al.


Bobby Azarian:

"In 2021, a similar paper was published by some high-profile scientists, physicist Lee Smolin and computer scientist Jaron Lanier among them, called The Autodidactic Universe, which inspired sensational headlines like “Physicists working with Microsoft think the Universe is a self-learning computer.” The paper proposes that the cosmos may possess an innate ability to learn, adapt, and evolve in a manner akin to a living organism. This view diverges from conventional theories of everything, which typically treat the Universe as an inert system governed by unchanging laws. By contrast, Smolin and Lanier posit that the laws of the Universe might emerge sometime after its creation, and those laws might change or evolve as the cosmos develops and learns more about its own structure, dynamics, and possibilities.

Like the Vanchurin paper, the authors argue that the Universe shares many critical features with neural networks, and they also emphasize that the Universe evolves through Darwinian mechanisms, which are evolutionary processes but also learning processes that create information, complexity, and a hierarchical organization. If their big ideas are correct, then this emerging theory of everything has the power to unite physics and biology.

Jaron Lanier, a pioneer of virtual reality, told podcast host Lex Fridman, “There’s been a zillion papers about how you can think of the Universe as a big neural net, or how you can think of different ideas in physics as being quite similar to, or even equivalent to, some of the ideas in machine learning, and that actually works out crazy well. That actually is kind of eerie.”