About this topic
Summary Pancomputationalism is a term encompassing all paradigms of a computational world, which proceed from the realization that nature can successfully be explained by computable scientific models. It takes the concepts of functionalism and computationalism to its ultimate consequences, envisaging a world where all physical processes are carried out by a computer. In other words, it encompasses all paradigms that see the universe as a computer program. The strongest form of pancomputationalism is the paradigm of a digital Turing computable world, but there are opposing paradigms having their own computational models. 
Key works While for some authors the world and its natural processes are deterministic and digital, based on classical mechanics (e.g. Zuse 1969Fredkin 1990), for others it may be obvious that the world cannot be the result of  classical computation (Feynman 1982, Deutsch 1997Lloyd 2010) because that would leave quantum phenomena unaccounted for. The main question, however, is which processes are most fundamental. Some authors believe that quantum phenomena are an emergent property of information and computation (Wheeler 1990, Wolfram 2002). The main opposing pancomputational views claim that no current scientific theory can fully account for natural phenomena such as brain consciousness (e.g. Penrose 1999), and for a world where indeterministic randomness actually occurs and free will is possible (e.g. Scheidl et al 2010). They do so, for example, by strictly assuming the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. A weaker form of pancomputationalism entails an algorithmic view of the world and of nature (Chaitin 2012, Zenil ms) independent of computational model.
Introductions Lloyd 2010, Lloyd 2007, Seife 2007, Zenil ms
Related categories

40 found
  1. Cellular Automata.Francesco Berto & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Cellular automata (henceforth: CA) are discrete, abstract computational systems that have proved useful both as general models of complexity and as more specific representations of non-linear dynamics in a variety of scientific fields. Firstly, CA are (typically) spatially and temporally discrete: they are composed of a finite or denumerable set of homogeneous, simple units, the atoms or cells. At each time unit, the cells instantiate one of a finite set of states. They evolve in parallel at discrete time steps, following (...)
  2. There’s Plenty of Boole at the Bottom: A Reversible CA Against Information Entropy.Francesco Berto, Jacopo Tagliabue & Gabriele Rossi - 2016 - Minds and Machines 26 (4):341-357.
    “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”, said the title of Richard Feynman’s 1959 seminal conference at the California Institute of Technology. Fifty years on, nanotechnologies have led computer scientists to pay close attention to the links between physical reality and information processing. Not all the physical requirements of optimal computation are captured by traditional models—one still largely missing is reversibility. The dynamic laws of physics are reversible at microphysical level, distinct initial states of a system leading to distinct final (...)
  3. Dancing with Pixies: Strong Artificial Intelligence and Panpsychism.John Mark Bishop - 2003 - In John M. Preston & Michael A. Bishop (eds.), Views Into the Chinese Room: New Essays on Searle and Artificial Intelligence. Oxford University Press.
  4. Proving Darwin: Making Biology Mathematical.G. J. Chaitin - 2012 - Pantheon.
    Groundbreaking mathematician Gregory Chaitin gives us the first book to posit that we can prove how Darwin’s theory of evolution works on a mathematical level.
  5. Does a Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton?David J. Chalmers - 1996 - Synthese 108 (3):309-33.
    Hilary Putnam has argued that computational functionalism cannot serve as a foundation for the study of the mind, as every ordinary open physical system implements every finite-state automaton. I argue that Putnam's argument fails, but that it points out the need for a better understanding of the bridge between the theory of computation and the theory of physical systems: the relation of implementation. It also raises questions about the class of automata that can serve as a basis for understanding the (...)
  6. Why Everything Doesn't Realize Every Computation.Ronald L. Chrisley - 1994 - Minds and Machines 4 (4):403-20.
    Some have suggested that there is no fact to the matter as to whether or not a particular physical system relaizes a particular computational description. This suggestion has been taken to imply that computational states are not real, and cannot, for example, provide a foundation for the cognitive sciences. In particular, Putnam has argued that every ordinary open physical system realizes every abstract finite automaton, implying that the fact that a particular computational characterization applies to a physical system does not (...)
  7. The Fabric of Reality.David Deutsch - 1997 - Allan Lane.
    An extraordinary and challenging synthesis of ideas uniting Quantum Theory, and the theories of Computation, Knowledge and Evolution, Deutsch's extraordinary book explores the deep connections between these strands which reveal the fabric ...
  8. Nature as a Network of Morphological Infocomputational Processes for Cognitive Agents.Gordana Dodig Crnkovic - 2017 - Eur. Phys. J. Special Topics 226 (2):181-195.
    This paper presents a view of nature as a network of infocomputational agents organized in a dynamical hierarchy of levels. It provides a framework for unification of currently disparate understandings of natural, formal, technical, behavioral and social phenomena based on information as a structure, differences in one system that cause the differences in another system, and computation as its dynamics, i.e. physical process of morphological change in the informational structure. We address some of the frequent misunderstandings regarding the natural/morphological computational (...)
  9. Information, Computation, Cognition. Agency-Based Hierarchies of Levels.Gordana Dodig Crnkovic - 2016 - In Vincent Müller (ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence. Zurich: Springer. pp. 139-159.
    This paper connects information with computation and cognition via concept of agents that appear at variety of levels of organization of physical/chemical/cognitive systems – from elementary particles to atoms, molecules, life-like chemical systems, to cognitive systems starting with living cells, up to organisms and ecologies. In order to obtain this generalized framework, concepts of information, computation and cognition are generalized. In this framework, nature can be seen as informational structure with computational dynamics, where an (info-computational) agent is needed for the (...)
  10. Reality Construction in Cognitive Agents Through Processes of Info-Computation.Gordana Dodig Crnkovic & Rickard von Haugwitz - forthcoming - In Gordana Dodge Crnkovic & Rafaela Giovagnoli (eds.), Representation and Reality in Humans, Animals and Machines. Heidelberg: Springer.
    Some intriguing questions such as: What is reality for an agent? How does reality of a bacterium differ from a reality of a human brain? Do we need representation in order to understand reality? are still widely debated. Starting with the presentation of the computing nature as an info-computational framework, where information is defined as a structure, and computation as information processing, we address questions of evolution of increasingly complex living agents through interactions with the environment. In this context, the (...)
  11. Author's Response: Why We Need Info-Computational Constructivism.G. Dodig-Crnkovic - 2014 - Constructivist Foundations 9 (2):246-255.
    Upshot: The variety of commentaries has shown that IC impacts on many disciplines, from physics to biology, to cognitive science, to ethics. Given its young age, IC still needs to fill in many gaps, some of which were pointed out by the commentators. My goal is both to illuminate some general topics of info-computationalism, and to answer specific questions in that context.
  12. Alan Turing's Legacy: Info-Computational Philosophy of Nature.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2013 - In Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Raffaela Giovagnoli (ed.), Computing Nature. Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 115--123.
    Alan Turing’s pioneering work on computability, and his ideas on morphological computing support Andrew Hodges’ view of Turing as a natural philosopher. Turing’s natural philosophy differs importantly from Galileo’s view that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics (The Assayer, 1623). Computing is more than a language used to describe nature as computation produces real time physical behaviors. This article presents the framework of Natural info-computationalism as a contemporary natural philosophy that builds on the legacy of (...)
  13. Semantics of Information as Interactive Computation.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2008 - Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Philosophy and Informatics 2008.
    Computers today are not only the calculation tools - they are directly (inter)acting in the physical world which itself may be conceived of as the universal computer (Zuse, Fredkin, Wolfram, Chaitin, Lloyd). In expanding its domains from abstract logical symbol manipulation to physical embedded and networked devices, computing goes beyond Church-Turing limit (Copeland, Siegelman, Burgin, Schachter). Computational processes are distributed, reactive, interactive, agent-based and concurrent. The main criterion of success of computation is not its termination, but the adequacy of its (...)
  14. Empirical Modeling and Information Semantics.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2008 - Mind & Society 7 (2):157.
    This paper investigates the relationship between reality and model, information and truth. It will argue that meaningful data need not be true in order to constitute information. Information to which truth-value cannot be ascribed, partially true information or even false information can lead to an interesting outcome such as technological innovation or scientific breakthrough. In the research process, during the transition between two theoretical frameworks, there is a dynamic mixture of old and new concepts in which truth is not well (...)
  15. Knowledge Generation as Natural Computation.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2008 - Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics 6 (2).
    Knowledge generation can be naturalized by adopting computational model of cognition and evolutionary approach. In this framework knowledge is seen as a result of the structuring of input data (data → information → knowledge) by an interactive computational process going on in the agent during the adaptive interplay with the environment, which clearly presents developmental advantage by increasing agent’s ability to cope with the situation dynamics. This paper addresses the mechanism of knowledge generation, a process that may be modeled as (...)
  16. Epistemology as Computation (Information Processing).Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2007 - In Christian Calude (ed.), Randomness & Complexity, From Leibniz to Chaitin. World Scientific Pub Co.
    This essay presents arguments for the claim that in the best of all possible worlds (Leibniz) there are sources of unpredictability and creativity for us humans, even given a pancomputational stance. A suggested answer to Chaitin’s questions: “Where do new mathematical and biological ideas come from? How do they emerge?” is that they come from the world and emerge from basic physical (computational) laws. For humans as a tiny subset of the universe, a part of the new ideas comes as (...)
  17. Shifting the Paradigm of Philosophy of Science: Philosophy of Information and a New Renaissance. [REVIEW]Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (4):521-536.
    Computing is changing the traditional field of Philosophy of Science in a very profound way. First as a methodological tool, computing makes possible ``experimental Philosophy'' which is able to provide practical tests for different philosophical ideas. At the same time the ideal object of investigation of the Philosophy of Science is changing. For a long period of time the ideal science was Physics (e.g., Popper, Carnap, Kuhn, and Chalmers). Now the focus is shifting to the field of Computing/Informatics. There are (...)
  18. Content Aggregation, Visualization and Emergent Properties in Computer Simulations.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic, Juan M. Durán & D. Slutej - 2010 - In Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro & Thomas Larsson (eds.), SIGRAD 2010 – Content aggregation and visualization. Linköping University Electronic Press. pp. 77-83.
    With the rapidly growing amounts of information, visualization is becoming increasingly important, as it allows users to easily explore and understand large amounts of information. However the field of information visualiza- tion currently lacks sufficient theoretical foundations. This article addresses foundational questions connecting information visualization with computing and philosophy studies. The idea of multiscale information granula- tion is described based on two fundamental concepts: information (structure) and computation (process). A new information processing paradigm of Granular Computing enables stepwise increase of (...)
  19. Representation of Reality: Humans, Animals and Machines.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Raffaela Giovagnoli (eds.) - forthcoming - Heidelberg: Springer.
    In this book the editors invited prominent researchers with different perspectives and deep insights into the various facets of the relationship between reality and representation in the following three classes of agent: in humans, in other living beings, and in machines. -/- The book enriches our views on representation and deepens our understanding of its different aspects, a question that connects philosophy, computer science, logic, anthropology, psychology, sociology, neuroscience, linguistics, information and communication science, systems theory and engineering, computability, cybernetics, synthetic (...)
  20. Computing Nature–A Network of Networks of Concurrent Information Processes.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Raffaela Giovagnoli - 2013 - In Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Raffaela Giovagnoli (ed.), Computing Nature. pp. 1--22.
    This text presents the research field of natural/unconventional computing as it appears in the book COMPUTING NATURE. The articles discussed consist a selection of works from the Symposium on Natural Computing at AISB-IACAP (British Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour and The International Association for Computing and Philosophy) World Congress 2012, held at the University of Birmingham, celebrating Turing centenary. The COMPUTING NATURE is about nature considered as the totality of physical existence, the universe. (...)
  21. A Dialogue Concerning Two World Systems: Info-Computational Vs. Mechanistic.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Vincent C. Müller - 2011 - In Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Mark Burgin (eds.), Information and computation: Essays on scientific and philosophical understanding of foundations of information and computation. World Scientific. pp. 149-184.
    The dialogue develops arguments for and against a broad new world system - info-computationalist naturalism - that is supposed to overcome the traditional mechanistic view. It would make the older mechanistic view into a special case of the new general info-computationalist framework (rather like Euclidian geometry remains valid inside a broader notion of geometry). We primarily discuss what the info-computational paradigm would mean, especially its pancomputationalist component. This includes the requirements for a the new generalized notion of computing that would (...)
  22. Simulating Physics with Computers.R. P. Feynman - 1982 - International Journal of Theoretical Physics 21 (6):467-488.
  23. Digital Mechanics.Edward Fredkin - 1990 - Physica D:254-70.
  24. Erratum To: A Revised Attack on Computational Ontology. [REVIEW]Nir Fresco & Phillip J. Staines - 2014 - Minds and Machines 24 (1):141-141.
    Erratum to: Minds & Machines DOI 10.1007/s11023-013-9327-1Acknowledgment was omitted from the original publication of this article, and appears below.
  25. Information, Computation, Cognition. Agency-Based Hierarchies of Levels.Dodig-Crnkovic Gordana - 2016 - In Vincent C. Müller (ed.), FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, Synthese Library 377. Springer International Publishing Switzerland. pp. 139-159.
    This paper connects information with computation and cognition via concept of agents that appear at variety of levels of organization of physical/chemical/cognitive systems – from elementary particles to atoms, molecules, life-like chemical systems, to cognitive systems starting with living cells, up to organisms and ecologies. In order to obtain this generalized framework, concepts of information, computation and cognition are generalized. In this framework, nature can be seen as informational structure with computational dynamics, where an (info-computational) agent is needed for the (...)
  26. A Case for Lattice Schemes in Fundamental Physics.Rowan Grigg - unknown
    A synthesis of trending topics in pancomputationalism. I introduce the notion that "strange loops" engender the most atomic levels of physical reality, and introduce a mechanism for global non-locality. Writen in a simple and accesssible style, it seeks to draw research in fundamental physics back to realism, and have a bit of fun in the process.
  27. The Universal Lattice.Rowan Grigg - unknown
  28. Counting Steps: A Finitist Interpretation of Objective Probability in Physics.Amit Hagar & Giuseppe Sergioli - 2015 - Epistemologia 37 (2):262-275.
    We propose a new interpretation of objective deterministic chances in statistical physics based on physical computational complexity. This notion applies to a single physical system (be it an experimental set--up in the lab, or a subsystem of the universe), and quantifies (1) the difficulty to realize a physical state given another, (2) the 'distance' (in terms of physical resources) from a physical state to another, and (3) the size of the set of time--complexity functions that are compatible with the physical (...)
  29. Programming the Universe.Seh Lloyd - 2007 - Vintage.
  30. A Simplicity Criterion for Physical Computation.Tyler Millhouse - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    The aim of this paper is to offer a formal criterion for physical computation that allows us to objectively distinguish between competing computational interpretations of a physical system. The criterion construes a computational interpretation as an ordered pair of functions mapping (1) states of a physical system to states of an abstract machine, and (2) inputs to this machine to interventions in this physical system. This interpretation must ensure that counterfactuals true of the abstract machine have appropriate counterparts which are (...)
  31. Pancomputationalism: Theory or Metaphor?Vincent C. Müller - 2014 - In Ruth Hagengruber & Uwe Riss (eds.), Philosophy, computing and information science. Pickering & Chattoo. pp. 213-221.
    The theory that all processes in the universe are computational is attractive in its promise to provide an understandable theory of everything. I want to suggest here that this pancomputationalism is not sufficiently clear on which problem it is trying to solve, and how. I propose two interpretations of pancomputationalism as a theory: I) the world is a computer and II) the world can be described as a computer. The first implies a thesis of supervenience of the physical over computation (...)
  32. Susan Stuart & Gordana Dodig Crnkovic : 'Computation, Information, Cognition: The Nexus and the Liminal'. [REVIEW]Vincent C. Müller - 2009 - Cybernetics and Human Knowing 16 (3-4):201-203.
    Review of: "Computation, Information, Cognition: The Nexus and the Liminal", Ed. Susan Stuart & Gordana Dodig Crnkovic, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, September 2007, xxiv+340pp, ISBN: 9781847180902, Hardback: £39.99, $79.99 ---- Are you a computer? Is your cat a computer? A single biological cell in your stomach, perhaps? And your desk? You do not think so? Well, the authors of this book suggest that you think again. They propose a computational turn, a turn towards computational explanation and towards the explanation of (...)
  33. Computation in Physical Systems.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  34. Computational Modeling Vs. Computational Explanation: Is Everything a Turing Machine, and Does It Matter to the Philosophy of Mind?Gualtiero Piccinini - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):93 – 115.
    According to pancomputationalism, everything is a computing system. In this paper, I distinguish between different varieties of pancomputationalism. I find that although some varieties are more plausible than others, only the strongest variety is relevant to the philosophy of mind, but only the most trivial varieties are true. As a side effect of this exercise, I offer a clarified distinction between computational modelling and computational explanation.<br><br>.
  35. Violation of Local Realism with Freedom of Choice.T. Scheidl, R. Ursin, J. Kofler, S. Ramelow, X. Ma, T. Herbst, L. Ratschbacher, A. Fedrizzi, N. K. Langford, T. Jennewein & A. Zeilinger - 2010 - Pnas 107 (46):19709-19713.
  36. Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, Fromour Brains to Black Holes.Charles Seife - 2007 - Peguin.
    our universe has a radius no smaller than 40 billion light- years—there's no sign, yet, of any edge to the universe. Though this is one piece of evidence for an infinite universe, it is not what really makes physicists think that the universe is ...
  37. David Wolpert on Impossibility, Incompleteness, the Liar Paradox, the Limits of Computation, a Non-Quantum Mechanical Uncertainty Principle and the Universe as Computer—the Ultimate Theorem in Turing Machine Theory.Michael Starks - manuscript
    I have read many recent discussions of the limits of computation and the universe as computer, hoping to find some comments on the amazing work of polymath physicist and decision theorist David Wolpert but have not found a single citation and so I present this very brief summary. Wolpert proved some stunning impossibility or incompleteness theorems (1992 to 2008-see arxiv.org) on the limits to inference (computation) that are so general they are independent of the device doing the computation, and even (...)
  38. Wolpert, Chaitin and Wittgenstein on Impossibility, Incompleteness, the Limits of Computation, Theism and the Universe as Computer-the Ultimate Turing Theorem.Michael Starks - 2017 - Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks 3rd Ed. (2017).
    I have read many recent discussions of the limits of computation and the universe as computer, hoping to find some comments on the amazing work of polymath physicist and decision theorist David Wolpert but have not found a single citation and so I present this very brief summary. Wolpert proved some stunning impossibility or incompleteness theorems (1992 to 2008-see arxiv.org) on the limits to inference (computation) that are so general they are independent of the device doing the computation, and even (...)
  39. A New Kind of Science.Stephen Wolfram - 2002 - Wolfram Media.
  40. Rechnender Raum (Calculating Space).Konrad Zuse - 1969 - Schriften Zur Dataverarbeitung 1.
    Zuse proposed that the universe is being computed by some sort of cellular automaton or other discrete computing machinery, challenging the long-held view that some physical laws are continuous by nature. Calculating Space is the title of MIT's English translation of Konrad Zuse's 1969 Rechnender Raum, the first work on digital physics. This is the LaTeX edition by A. German and H. Zenil based on the MIT's English translation with permission from the MIT and Konrad Zuse's son Horst Zuse. Followed (...)