An Attempt at Starting a Discussion on Digital Philosophy

This blog is for the exchange of ideas related to discrete models of the most microscopic fundamental processes in physics.


  1. dbm

    I hope to be able to contribute to this discussion as it is a subject dear to my heart.

  2. Akinbo

    I have been working on the digital nature of physics partly following from the absurdities and paradoxes that arise from the continuous view. While I agree with most of what Edward (who I can refer to as the grand patron of digital physics) has to contribute on the subject, two areas I am yet to agree to swallow: the 10^-15m limit appears too large and the introduction of “soul” and “mind” is not well grounded on facts. To further the cause I have put in a contribution in the current FQXi Essay contest, comments will be welcome. I will also value non public exchange with Edward.

    1. Ed Fredkin

      Hello Akinbo,
      Welcome! As to the 10^-15M scale, it is, of course, only a guess. However the purpose in having such a large guess is that there is litle good evidence of any necessity for a much smaller scale, such as Plank’s Length. If you look at the paper on Discrete Theoretical Systems, page 11, there is a description of what I call “Locality”. The point is that a Cellular Automaton with cell spacing 10^-15M, large configurations of cells (that represent a particle, with all its characteristics including total energy) could have an effective position of, perhaps, 10^-20M or less.

      In the “Circular Motion of Strings…” paper, the perfection of the circular orbits of strings (computed as the path of the center of “mass” of the string) becomes arbitrarily more precise than the cell to cell spacing, as the size of the glider increases. Thus, paradoxically, the larger the configuration, the more precisely it can represent a position. Just as is true in physics: the greater the energy (mass), the smaller the wavelength, etc.

      Once we imagine and begin to understand the possibilities of discrete space, time, state information at the bottom, the idea that the real world has properties identical to mathematical analysis: continuity, differentiability, infinitessimals and infinities, becomes unreasonable. In any case, that is what I believe.

  3. Akinbo

    Hello Ed and thanks for your comments. If you don’t mind I think as a respected member of the Digital Physics community you should post some comments on the blog for the ‘It from bit or Bit from It’ essay contest referred to above.

    I suggest there is no need re-inventing the wheel and that the Cellular Automata are no more than the same old “monad” of the Pythagoreans, Aristotle, Proclus, Leibniz, etc.

    What do you say about ‘digital motion’? How would you describe motion of bodies in discrete space? Certainly this cannot be pushing the space out of the way if they have no mass to react unlike water and air.


    1. Edward Fredkin

      Hi Akinbo. Atomic theory is one of the discrete models that dates from the times ancient Greece. From the times of Leucippus to Democratus and Epicurus, various aspects of discrete models where thought aboiut and discussed; along with questions about continuous vs. discrete. Later, ancient Arabic and Moslem scholars speculated about various models involving discrete space and time. They also developed a number of arguments as to why such models seemed sensible.

      What I mean by “discrete” is quite simple. A discrete model of physics is one where all measures and magnitudes related to such concepts as: mass, charge, length and time, etc. could all, in principle, be specified exactly by integers. Today, in physics, it is accepted that any amount of electric charge can be specified exactly by an integer. Therefore, electric charge is known to be discrete. The Finite Nature assumption is that all fundamental quantities, related to physical state, are discrete.

      1. Akinbo

        Dear Ed,
        Thanks for your reply. You said and I agree that in “a discrete model of physics is one where such concepts as… length …. could in principle, be specified exactly by integers…”

        Yes, I share your philosophy. Between one length integer and the next what separates them to ensure their discontinuity and ensure their discreteness? If no length or space separates them, will they not be continuous?
        My proposal is that TIME does the separation, with a length being capable of annihilating or emerging from nothing as Leibniz imagined in his Monadology.
        I also wanted to draw your attention to a follow up blogpost, The Judgement, which I wrote following additional insights gained from interacting with FQXi community members, perhaps you may like to view. I believe the cause of digital philosophy will be furthered by it. The essential claim is that Points and Monads are to be the binary states (Bits) of space (extension) as Wheeler envisaged in saying, “… even the SPACE-TIME continuum itself – DERIVES its FUNCTION, its MEANING, its very EXISTENCE entirely – FROM … binary choices, BITS”. This also satisfies Newton’s desire, “…it is clear that they (philosophers) would cheerfully allow extension (space) to be substance, just as body is, if only extension could move and act as body can” and …”And my account throws a satisfactory light on the difference between body and extension – i.e. between a body and a region of space. The raw materials of each are the same in their properties and nature, and differ only in how God created them”

        Thanks and best regards,

  4. Wilhelm der Zauberer

    Just discovered your blog, Edward Fredkin.

    I believe your core ideas are finally beginning to become more accepted within certain spheres, although it will be sometime before they become mainstream. After all, truly understanding the ramifications of digital physics requires a baseline knowledge in computer science and mathematics, not something we can expect from the general population in today’s society. So be it.

    1. Ed Fredkin

      I appreciate your comment. What may prove true is that physicists may be the very last of those willing to think about these ideas. The historic success of mathematical analysis, within theoretical physics, provides lots of motivation to avoid any thought of abandoning all that for discrete space, time and state. Understanding my work requires one to mentally abandon methodologies proven successful. New theories are usually introduced by making a novel prediction that can be confirmed by experiment. Perhaps I’m too stupid to have, so far, thought of some such experiment. In any case, I merely continue my work.

  5. Calixto

    Hi Mr. Ed!

    I don´t know if this blog/site is still active. I share with you most aspects of the “digital philosophy”. I believe Spinoza would share too. :)

    Well, I am here to show you this particular curious CA I found some years ago. A lot of insights poped up in my brains, I believe it has profound relationships with reality:

    If you need the code:

    Maybe, someway it may help your great work! I´ve imagined a 3D fractal CA based on this alghorithm.

    Thanks a lot!

    (PS: sorry any grammar mistakes. Translated texts…)

Leave a Reply to Wilhelm der Zauberer Cancel reply