Hold on to your cellular-automated horses!
At any and every moment, countless amateur philosophers all over
the globe are debating this exact issue right now. Just in case anyone comes
across this node in their search for meaning here on e2, I will take a moment to
stamp the rubber-stamp opposition to this statement. However, I would like to
point out that I completely agree with mmmmbacon's basic premise. Stephen
Wolfram does so, as well. Unfortunately, his research in this field has not
produced the so-called "missing link" in the materialist-determinist's
vision of the universe: one brilliantly complex Conway's Game of
The missing link is the bridge between the simple structures capable of occurring
in rule-based computer-model simulations, such as Conway's Game of Life and the
higher levels of complexity we find in our everyday world. Put simply,
the little squiggling shapes populating Wolfram's computer models never evolved
into figures with higher complexity. The blinking cross, for example, will never
evolve into a more interesting figure, it will always and forever remain a
blinking cross. This type of environment does not seem to represent the chaotic
fullness and creativity of the world we are all used to. Wolfram himself admits
that most of his simulations, regardless of the time spent running through the
simulation, never reach a higher level of complexity. In fact, Wolfram admitted
that his results reached a certain level of chaos, and then hit a plateau: a
humming comfort level of complexity.
Hold on to your free-willed horses!
But wait! This may not be the end of the materialist-determinist's road, but
rather just the beginning. Perhaps, as the counter-counter argument goes (in
which I place my trust): Wolfram's models simply aren't large enough, and also
perhaps his rules governing these models are not complex enough. Perhaps if the
computer-model simulation were the
size of, say, the entire size of the universe itself, then maybe the data will
evolve into higher orders of complexity, such as rats, perfume, giant squids, and
Calling All QM Buffs: Please see this node for the quantum side to the philosophical
inquiry of determinism. I personally dislike the current rubber-stamp quantum
argument: that the nature of free will hides somewhere in the quantum buzz
engulfing the universe. To me, that's like picking up thirty-nine upside down cups
without finding the little red ball and then just assuming it is
going to be under the fortieth. Maybe there is no little red ball.
Oh, I guess I failed to answer WHAT IF the universe is like the Game of Life, and I must say I agree with ariel's assertion below: If the universe were a Game of Life, then it would look and feel exactly as it does today, with no difference!