The Research Process and the Bits

How could solid-seeming computer hardware support such a ghostly thing as research progress? The world of scientific inquiry and the world of bits appear too far apart to interact in any way.

A few centuries ago it seemed impossible to explain Life - living things appeared to be so different from anything else. Last century, von Neumann helped show how cell-machines could reproduce. Watson and Crick helped show how cells make copies of their hereditary code.

How does scientific process work? Gödel and Turing helped reveal the range of what machines could be made to do. McCulloch and Pitts in the 1940s began to show how machines might be made to see, reason, and remember.

We are still far from being able to create machines that do all of the scientific work that people do. But we also need better theories about how knowledge is acquired and applied, how data is interpreted, etc. Tiny machines, “agents”, could be “particles” helpful in constructing such theories and operationalizing them.

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