hee hee. a ramble about computationalism and physics

The universe could be considered a finite state machine that undergoes state transitions through the reapplication of a set of rules. This means that some form of computation must take place in order for time to pass. Our computers are often called hardware because they are made of matter, but they also can be considered software because they store information through the organisation and quantum state of matter, and this information codes for a specific set of rules that govern how the computer moves from one state to the next. In order to build computers that work according to these rules, we must use our knowledge of the state transition rules of the universe, and in effect funnel the computation that must take place for the universe to work into making our computers work. In this sense, computers are virtual machines running using the processor instructions of the universe. Like any virtual machine, they are unable to have as much computing power as the machine in which they run. This is because some computing power must be used to run the virtual machine software itself. In the case of our computers, a vast majority if the processing power of the matter that makes them up is wasted doing stuff like removing entropy from the circuitry, transferring information between transistors, and amplifying or suppressing the information that reaches a logic assembly so that it settles into a 0 or 1.

If you want to harness the full computational potential of matter, quantum computation is really the way to go. In a quantum computer, the cpu would be made of far less matter than a conventional computer of equal power. This would reduce the amount of atoms needed to allow different parts of the cpu to communicate with each other, and hence reduce the amount of time needed for that communication to take place due to the fact that the communication links will be much shorter and more direct.