How is a Program Like a Universe?

In a book called Scientology 8-8008, L. Ron Hubbard defines a “universe” like this:

A universe is defined as “a whole system of created things.” There could be and are many universes and there could be many kinds of universes.

If you’ve never thought about it, it might be hard to envision the idea of a universe that doesn’t look or act like this one. Here’s a way to think about it: Yesterday, I ran into an abstract artist and I had this thought about her art–I asked her, “If you could create a universe, would it look like this one [the physical universe]?” Instantly, she said, “No!” This is something that I had not understood about abstract art until that very point–that it represents a whole universe made by the artist, not a representation of this universe. Her universe has colors and swirls and represents things in a whole different way than this universe.

So that’s a very wild example of “a universe”–the things that you see in abstract paintings. That’s “a whole system of created things” completely different from the universe we’re used to seeing (the physical universe).

In a much less wild way, a computer program is also a whole universe. For example, let’s take a simple program that adds 1 plus 1 and gets 2. Read the rest of this entry »