Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Dag Sørebø

Summer School

Class of 2007


Dag Sørebø studied at the University of Bergen, Norway, doing mathematics and computer science at the undergraduate level, then switching to organization theory and administration at the intermediate level, and finally receiving the degree Candidatus Philologiae in Philosophy (the Norwegian equivalent to a master’s in research) in 2004.

In 1998, he studied at the University of Newcastle, Australia, successfully completing Professor Clifford A. Hooker’s honours seminar in cognitive science while doing courses in rationality theory and the philosophy of science. After graduating from the University of Bergen in 2004, he studied technopreneurship at the University of Oslo and the National University of Singapore. Dag was part of the first NKS Summer School in 2003, and he gave presentations at the NKS conferences in 2004 and 2005. Currently, his academic plan is to write a project description for a PhD in cognitive science.

Professionally, Dag first worked for six years in the Norwegian Army and then five years part-time as an IT consultant. Among his assignments were three oil companies, a TV station, a high school, a start-up enterprise in language technology, and general work as a computer instructor. He has worked as an assistant teacher in Philosophy at the University of Bergen and as a substitute teacher at elementary schools in Western Norway and in Oslo. Since 2001 he has his own startup enterprise, “Norsk Sikkerhetsinstitutt”, which offers advise, tuition and consulting services in security and safety issues, and total quality management. Dag currently works as an environmental therapist in a rehabilitation unit for schizophrenic patients with a double diagnosis.

Project: Evolved Intelligence–Programmed Design


In his 2002 book A New Kind of Science, Stephen Wolfram observes that “… the fact that we may be able to interpret a system as achieving some purpose does not necessarily mean that the system was really created with that purpose in mind …” (NKS, p. 831). I think that Wolfram’s statements highlight philosophically interesting–and controversial–questions in Western thought about how humans are able to distinguish forms in nature from designed artifacts. I plan to investivate the philosophical implications of Wolfram’s statement by means of methods, truth-proxies, and concepts which, according to the literature I have studied, are relevant to philosophy and science alike.


If we adopt the view of evolutionary epistomology as a basic naturalist/realist philosophical framework (Hooker, Reason, Regulation, and Realism (1995), p.9), in what way(s) could we use the methodologies and computational tools of NKS to explore a system and its relationship to human purposes? I think that a meaningful approach to this question should include a discussion of the traditional distinction between “natural” and “artificial” forms in Western thought–a longstanding issue for empirical scientific observations. I started by sorting pictures of objects into three series: natural forms, artificial forms, or “hybrid” forms–objects which display characteristics of both the natural and artificial forms. I used Mathematica first to organize these pictures and then to search for a cellular automaton in the computational universe that, at some point in its evolution, displays a space-time form similar to at least one of the objects. If such a hypothetical CA can be found, I make the conjecture that in some cases, CAs can be seen as probes sent into “human design” space.

Favorite Outer Totalistic Three-Color Rule

Rule chosen: 8118948

I think 3-color, outer CA 8118948 is interesting. Straight lines “build from the side” 45 degree angles, without starting from long, horizontal lines as in many other CAs.