Rudy Rucker
Rudy Rucker
Mathematician, Computer Scientist, cyberpunk/transrealist author


Life is a Gnarly Computation
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
8:00 p.m. in Webb Auditorium (James E. Booth Memorial Building - 7A)

Colloquium on Rudy Rucker, "Math Meets Fiction On The Cyberedge"
April 4, 2007, 4:00-5:30
College of Science Auditorium (08-1250)

We're presently in the midst of a new intellectual revolution: were coming to realize that physics, biology, minds and societies all emerge from interacting laws that can be regarded as computations. Everything is a computation, more precisely, everything is a gnarly computation. I use "gnarly" to mean richly complex --- or what Stephen Wolfram calls class-four. A tree's growth, the changes in the weather, the flow of daily news, a person's ever-changing moods --- all of these are gnarly computations. Although law-like and deterministic, gnarly computations are --- and this is a key point --- inherently unpredictable. The world's mystery is preserved. I'll explain the notion of gnarly computation, focusing on ways in which we can usefully think of biological systems and human societies as computations. The goal is not to deny the complexity of the natural world, but rather to fully appreciate it. One formal result is of particular relevance: the "Principle of Unpredictability," which states that the behaviors of naturally occurring complex processes are formally impossible to predict by any conceivable means. This principle opens up new ways of thinking about biological evolution, about artistic creation, and about human history.

Rudy Rucker is a writer, a mathematician and a computer scientist --- in that order. Noted cyberpunk/transrealist author, Rucker moved to Silicon Valley when he turned 40. With degrees in mathematics from Swarthmore and Rutgers University, he recently retired from his Computer Science professorship at San Jose State University, where he developed a course on game programming and design. He has published twenty-nine books, primarily science-fiction and popular science and is best known for his novels Software and Wetware (both won Philip K. Dick Awards), as well as The Hacker and the Ants.

His most recent books are: a science fiction novel, Mathematicians in Love (Tor, 2006), an anthology of stories, Mad Professor (Thunders Mouth Press, 2007) and a non-fiction book on the meaning of computation, The Lifebox, the Seashell and the Soul (Thunder's Mouth, 2005). Rucker is currently writing a novel involving a computational singularity.

Please see the suggested reading list
and other speakers:
Eugenie Scott Randolph Nesse Martin Daly  Margo Wilson
Eugenie Scott Randolph Nesse Martin Daly
Margo Wilson

Rudy Rucker D. S. Wilson David M. Buss
Rudy Rucker D. S. Wilson David M. Buss

Daniel C. Dennett  Capstone Speaker
Daniel C. Dennett
Capstone Speaker
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