Can a Slime Mould Compute?

Activity: Talk or presentationPublic lecture


If you have a PC, tablet, or smartphone, you have used a computer. But some people use billiard balls, beams of light, sticks of wood, chemicals, bacteria, slime moulds, spaghetti, even black holes, as computers (although some of these only in theory!). How can these things be classed as computers? What can they do? Why might you want to use one? And what does it even mean for such weird stuff to “compute”?

There is a link between the processes of science, engineering, and computing, with deep similarities, and essential differences. By examining these, and seeing how they map onto how these strange materials are used, we can distinguish cases where some material device is actually computing, from others where it is just “doing its thing”.

This lets us see why a slime mould probably is computing; why the pan-computationalist’s lump of rock is not actually computing; and the different reason why the entire universe is not computing itself. And this will even let us see why the old aphorism “even a broken clock is right twice a day” is actually wrong.
Period9 Mar 2018
Event titleMeta.Morf 2018: A Beautiful Accident
Event typeOther
LocationTrondheim, NorwayShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational