17 Pages

Virtual Environments and the Emergence of Synthetic Reason

At the end of World War II, Stanislav Ulam and other scientists previously involved in weapons research at Los Alamos discovered the huge potential of computers to create artificial worlds, where simulated experiments could be conducted and where new hypotheses could be framed and tested. The physical sciences were the first ones to tap into this “epistemological reservoir,” thanks to the fact that much of their accumulated knowledge had already been given a mathematical form. Among the less mathematized disciplines, those already taking advantage of virtual environments are psychology and biology (e.g., Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life), although other fields such as economics and linguistics could soon begin to profit from the new research strategies made possible by computer simulations.