less computational sophistication than is implied by the principle, while others will be based on believing that they have more.
But at an underlying level I suspect that the single most common cause of objections will be confusion about various idealizations that are made in traditional models for systems. For even though a system itself may follow the Principle of Computational Equivalence, there is no guarantee that this will also be true of idealizations of the system.
As I discussed at the beginning of Chapter 8, finding a good model for a system is mostly about finding idealizations that are as simple as possible, but that nevertheless still capture the important features of the system. And the point is that in the past there was never a clear idea that computational capabilities of systems might be important, so these were usually not captured correctly when models were made.
Yet one of the characteristics of the kinds of models based on simple programs that I have developed in this book is that they do appear successfully to capture the computational capabilities of a wide range of systems in nature and elsewhere. And in the context of such models what I have discovered is that there is indeed all sorts of evidence for the Principle of Computational Equivalence.
But if one uses the kinds of traditional mathematical models that have in the past been common, things can seem rather different.
For example, many such models idealize systems to the point where their complete behavior can be described just by some simple mathematical formula that relates a few overall numerical quantities. And if one thinks only about this idealization one almost inevitably concludes that the system has very little computational sophistication.
It is also common for traditional mathematical models to suggest too much computational sophistication. For example, as I discussed at the end of Chapter 7, models based on traditional mathematical equations often give constraints on behavior rather than explicit rules for generating behavior.
And if one assumes that actual systems somehow always manage to find ways to satisfy such constraints, one will be led to conclude that these systems must be computationally more sophisticated than any of