Science Generators

Conway’s Game of Life is perhaps best viewed not as a single shorthand abstraction but rather as a generator of such abstractions. We get a whole bunch of useful abstractions—or at least a recipe for how to generate them—all for the price of one. And this points us to one especially useful shorthand abstraction: the strategy of Looking for Generators. We confront many problems. We can try to solve them one by one. But alternatively, we can try to create a generator that produces solutions to multiple problems.

Consider, for example, the challenge of advancing scientific understanding. We might make progress by directly tackling some random scientific problem. But perhaps we can make more progress by Looking for Generators and focusing our efforts on certain subsets of scientific problems—namely, those whose solutions would do most to facilitate the discovery of many other solutions. In this approach, we would pay most attention to innovations in methodology that can be widely applied; and to the development of scientific instruments that can enable many new experiments; and to improvements in institutional processes, such as peer review, that can help us make decisions about whom to hire, fund, or promote—decisions more closely reflecting true merit.


Nick Bostrom on the possibility of looking for scientific concept generators, similar to the way Conway's Game of Life is a pattern generator, rather than looking for random scientific problems to solve.

Folksonomies: science hypotheses

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Problem solving (0.968146): dbpedia | freebase
Mathematics (0.760681): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Conway's Game of Life (0.633213): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Generator (0.612601): dbpedia
Scientific method (0.597799): dbpedia | freebase
Concept (0.581281): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Abstraction (0.524058): dbpedia | freebase
Science (0.517083): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 This Will Make You Smarter
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Brockman , John (2012-02-14), This Will Make You Smarter, HarperCollins, Retrieved on 2013-12-19
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: science