Saturday, October 8, 2016

Post One!
As I approach the middle of my fifth decade on the planet, I realize that if I intend to do some things I’ve wanted to do for a while, I better get at it.  One of those things is, strangely enough, writing a blog about my various software-related interests and experiences.
In my years of heretofore dedicated lurking, I’ve learned so much from other people’s blogs, GitHub projects, and stack overflow answers, that I hope that what I share can be of  at least some value to others in return.  I expect most of my posts will be relatively mundane, and focused on my effectively narrow experience in "line-of-business" software, but I wanted an interesting name for the blog.
What’s in a Name?
What exactly does the name of the blog, “software defined universe”, mean?  First, as we continue into the 21st century software is becoming the core of everything we do. Or, as it was famously said, software is eating the world.  We can see it in many of the companies that have come to permeate the way we live our lives.  At their core, Amazon, Uber, and Netflix are essentially software companies
But it's beyond that.  The survival of pretty much any business is dependent on software that runs it. Digital Transformation has become a buzzword across the business world, and there's general acceptance of the idea that any company that doesn't drive innovation through software will inevitably be disrupted and lose share in the market.
In the broader scope, our technology are inseparable from the software that is driving it.  Advances in hardware are driven by the software that runs it.  Software runs the drones that will be transforming our skies.  Software runs the robots that operate our factories.  And software drives the AI's that will increasingly handle many tasks currently done by humans.
It's all Information
The core of our dependence on software can be traced back to Information Theory, and leads to the present where increasingly we treat everything as information.  Taken to its logical extreme, the fundamental thing to the universe isn't matter, it's information.  Basically, there nothing that can't be broken down into a stream of 1's and 0's.  And the thing that processes those 1's and 0's is software.
So after software finishes gobbling up the world, what next?  The logical conclusion is that, eventually, it will eat the universe.  It doesn’t even have to be us taking our software to the stars (or maybe the other way around).  You can be certain that if there are technologically advanced aliens somewhere out there, they already have some pretty impressive software of their own.  At some point they too would have realized how much easier it was to shop, find rides, and entertain themselves with the help of software.
The Software Defined Universe
But what if software doesn’t need to eat the world (or universe), because it already has?  Recently, there’s been increasing discussion around the possibility of whether our universe actually *is* software.  Perhaps, as initially popularized by The Matrix, our “reality” is just a very, very good computer simulation.  The formal theory behind this, known as the Simulation Hypothesis, addresses the likelihood that this is true.  Depending on assumptions one makes about advanced civilizations and their propensity for running simulations, it could be almost certain.   
In the end, though, it doesn't really matter whether the universe is going to be taken over by software, or already *is* software.  We have to live our lives the same, either way.  But, I think it does make sense, while we are all here using - or running as - software, to spend some time talking (or in my case, writing) about it!

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