One of the driving forces in modern science is the idea that the Universe “computes” the future, taking some initial state as an input and generating future states as an output. This is a powerful approach that has produced much insight. Some scientists go as far as to say that the Universe is a giant computer.

Is this a reasonable assumption? Today, Ken Wharton at San Jose State University in California, makes an important argument that it is not.  His fear is that the idea of the universe as a computer is worryingly anthropocentric.  “It’s basically the assumption that the way we humans solve physics problems must be the way the universe actually operates,” he says.