Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Programming the Universe" by Seth Lloyd

This past weekend I was in Indiana and I read a few articles in Nature regarding quantum computing. I decided to pick up this particular book as an introduction to quantum computers for my upcoming business trip earlier this week (flights can be quite boring at times).

All in all I felt the book was lacking... it was too simplified. In hindsight I was probably looking for something a bit more technical. This book is not technical at all.

The author seems to be all over the place in the book too. He tries to piece together many different things he worked on in the past into some grand notion that the universe may be a gigantic computer. It came off to me more like he wanted a reason to talk about himself and his past accomplishments and, by the way, it relates to this grand notion. The universe is a computer? Sure it may appear in some aspects as a computer and may have computational qualities here or there, but the whole thing? This notion seems far fetched to me and his arguments didn't sway me.

The book seemed inconsistent in places too. He speaks that atoms and systems can thought of as a bit in the first half of the book but in the latter half he uses bits to represent different qualities of atoms and systems. This is inconsistent because if you use bits to represent qualities then an atom and systems have many different qualities. I think he meant these bits to represent entropy/information... if so he could have been clearer in the first half.

There were some interesting ideas in the book, ones that got me thinking. But, I think your money is better spent elsewhere. I do plan on picking a book from his further reading section. I'll let you know how that works out.

1 comment:

Lars said...

Yes, the universe is not only a computer, but our very lives are part of a very advanced MMORPG. This guy is winning.