# How to Think Computationally About AI, the Universe and Everything | Stephen Wolfram | TED

TLDRIn his TED Talk, Stephen Wolfram explores the idea that computation is the fundamental process underlying everything in our universe. He discusses the discovery of what he believes to be the universe's ultimate machine code, which is computational in nature. Wolfram delves into the concept of space and matter being made of discrete elements, governed by simple computational rules. He also touches on the emergence of space-time, gravity, and quantum mechanics from these computations. Furthermore, he introduces the 'rulial', a concept representing the entanglement of all possible computational processes, and discusses how our perception of the universe is influenced by our position within it. Wolfram concludes by emphasizing the importance of computational language in harnessing the power of computation for human understanding and advancement.

### Takeaways

- 🧠 Human language, mathematics, and logic are ways to formalize the world, with computation emerging as a powerful new method.
- 🌟 Stephen Wolfram suggests that computation is the ultimate formalization underlying everything in our universe.
- 🌌 The universe's structure begins with discrete elements of space, forming a network of relations that define space and everything within it.
- 🔄 Space and its contents emerge from the successive application of simple computational rules, building up from the 'atoms of space'.
- 🖥️ Computation isn't just a tool; it's the fabric of the universe, with phenomena like black holes and gravitational radiation emerging from it.
- 🌐 Quantum mechanics arises from the perception of a branching universe, with the observer's role being crucial in understanding this phenomenon.
- 🔄 The history of science has seen paradigms shift from material composition to mathematical formulas, then to computational models, and now to multi-computational models.
- 🌐 The 'rulial' concept introduces a space where all possible computational processes occur, with observers experiencing specific slices of it.
- 🤖 AIs, like humans, can explore 'rulial space,' but their explorations without human alignment may not connect with human understanding.
- 🔗 The integration of computational language with AI, such as Large Language Models (LLMs), allows for the creation of systems that align closely with human thought and needs.
- 🚀 The future of AI and computation holds the potential for societal dilemmas, as their full computational potential may lead to unpredictability and a need for new control paradigms.

### Q & A

### What does Stephen Wolfram suggest is the most powerful way to formalize the world?

-Stephen Wolfram suggests that computation is the most powerful way to formalize the world, surpassing human language, mathematics, and logic.

### What was the main question Stephen Wolfram posed in his TED talk from 2010?

-The main question posed by Stephen Wolfram in his 2010 TED talk was whether computation is ultimately what's underneath everything in our universe.

### What significant announcement did Stephen Wolfram make in April 2020?

-In April 2020, Stephen Wolfram announced what seems to be the ultimate machine code of the universe, confirming that computation is indeed the fundamental process underlying everything in the universe.

### How does Wolfram describe the structure of space and everything in it?

-Wolfram describes the structure of space and everything in it as being made of discrete elements, with the structure defined by a network of relations between these elements, which he refers to as atoms of space.

### What does Wolfram propose as the origin of the universe in his computational model?

-In Wolfram's computational model, the origin of the universe is the emergence of space through the successive application of very simple computational rules, starting from atoms of space.

### How does Wolfram's model account for the emergence of space-time and Einstein's equations for gravity?

-In Wolfram's model, space-time and Einstein's equations for gravity emerge naturally from the computational processes that build up the universe, with deviations that might be detectable, such as variations in the dimensionality of space.

### What role does quantum mechanics play in Wolfram's view of the universe?

-In Wolfram's view, quantum mechanics emerges as the story of how branching minds perceive a branching universe, with the same phenomenon that gives us gravity in physical space giving us quantum mechanics in what he calls branchial space.

### What does Wolfram call the entangled limit of all possible computational processes?

-Wolfram calls the entangled limit of all possible computational processes the 'rulial', which is a deeply abstract but unique object that encompasses everything computationally possible.

### How does Wolfram explain the perception of the laws of physics by observers?

-Wolfram explains that the perception of the laws of physics by observers, such as humans, is a result of their computationally bounded minds and their persistence in time, which leads them to perceive the three key theories of 20th-century physics: general relativity, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics.

### What is the significance of the Wolfram Language in the context of computational thinking?

-The Wolfram Language is significant in the context of computational thinking because it provides a full-scale computational language that formalizes and encapsulates facets of human intellectual achievements, allowing for the operationalization of concepts in computational terms and serving as a tool for both humans and AIs.

### How does Wolfram envision the future impact of AI and computation on society?

-Wolfram envisions a future where AI and computation will lead to increased automation, opening up new directions in the ruliad for exploration. He suggests that defining what we want will become more important than how to achieve it, and that computational language will be key to harnessing these computational superpowers.

### Outlines

### 🌌 The Computational Universe

The speaker discusses the evolution of formalizing the world through human language, mathematics, logic, and computation. They reflect on their career in building a scientific and technological tower based on computation and announce a significant discovery: the ultimate machine code of the universe, which is computational. The universe is described as being made of discrete elements, and its structure is defined by a network of relations between these 'atoms of space.' The speaker illustrates this concept with a visual representation of the universe's beginning, showing the emergence of space and everything in it through simple computational rules. They also touch on the implications for physics, such as the emergence of space-time and Einstein's equations for gravity, and the potential for deviations from these principles. Furthermore, they introduce the concept of 'branchial space,' which relates to quantum mechanics and the perception of a branching universe by observers.

### 🧠 The Ruliad and Observers in the Computational Realm

The speaker delves into the concept of the 'rulial space,' which encompasses all computationally possible outcomes. They explain that as observers, we are part of this ruliad and sample specific slices of it, constrained by our computational limitations and the persistence of our consciousness through time. The speaker presents a groundbreaking result: the laws perceived by observers like us in the ruliad are the three key theories of 20th-century physics—general relativity, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. The speaker also discusses the idea of different 'minds' existing at various points in rulial space, suggesting a spectrum from human to alien minds. They propose the use of generative AI to explore this space and provide an example of how a simple concept like 'a cat in a party hat' can be used to navigate and understand the ruliad. The speaker emphasizes the importance of expanding our concepts and paradigms to explore this computational space, akin to physical space exploration but through the expansion of ideas and rules.

### 💡 The Power of Computational Language and AI

The speaker discusses the development of a computational language, which they argue is a significant advancement beyond traditional programming languages. This language, exemplified by the Wolfram Language, is designed to operationalize everything we can think about in computational terms, providing a superpower to its users by allowing them to bring their computational ideas into reality. The speaker shares their personal experience with the language, highlighting its ability to enable the creation of new things and to explore the ruliad effectively. They also touch on the integration of this technology with AI, suggesting that AIs can use the computational language as a tool to compute new facts and to assist in building new things. The speaker reflects on the societal implications of using AI and computation, noting that as we automate more, we open up new directions in the ruliad for exploration and define what we want through computational language.

### 🌟 The Future with AI and Computational Language

In the final paragraph, the speaker contemplates the future of AI and computation, emphasizing the importance of computational language in defining our goals and journeys. They suggest that as AI and automation advance, the focus shifts from technical execution to conceptualization, which is more aligned with liberal arts than STEM. The speaker argues that the advancement of technology does not make human specifics less relevant; instead, it highlights the importance of human desires and goals in shaping the direction of AI exploration in the ruliad. They conclude by stating that computational language is the key to harnessing the power of the ruliad and that it is accessible to everyone, provided they learn to use the computational superpowers it offers.

### Mindmap

### Keywords

### 💡Computation

### 💡Atoms of Space

### 💡Ruliad

### 💡Branchial Space

### 💡Computational Irreducibility

### 💡Quantum Mechanics

### 💡Multicomputational Paradigm

### 💡Gravitational Waves

### 💡Wolfram Language

### 💡Observer

### Highlights

Computation is a powerful way to formalize the world, alongside human language, mathematics, and logic.

Stephen Wolfram has spent nearly 50 years building a tower of science and technology based on computation.

In 2020, Wolfram announced what seems to be the ultimate machine code of the universe, which is computational.

The universe is made of discrete elements, and its structure is defined by a network of relations between these elements.

The universe can be built by the successive application of simple computational rules.

Space-time and Einstein's equations for gravity emerge from these computational processes.

Quantum mechanics emerges as the story of how branching minds perceive a branching universe.

There are four broad paradigms for making models of the world, distinguished by their treatment of time.

The ruliad is the entangled limit of all possible computational processes.

Observers like us perceive laws in the ruliad that correspond to the three key theories of 20th-century physics.

Different minds can be thought of as being at different places in rulial space.

Generative AI can be used to explore a tiny slice of the ruliad aligned with human images.

In rulial space, we explore more by expanding our concepts and paradigms.

AIs can explore rulial space, but their exploration without human alignment may not connect with human interests.

The Wolfram Language is a full-scale computational language that encapsulates intellectual achievements.

Computational language provides a path to create a computational X for all imaginable fields X.

The use of AI and computation challenges the idea that everything can be predicted or explained by simple formulas.

As AI and computation become more prevalent, society will face dilemmas about predictability and potential.

The advancement of AI opens up more directions to explore in the ruliad, but choosing between them requires human input.

Computational language is essential for defining human goals and charting our path in the vastness of the ruliad.