Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds
Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.7 Manipulation

As I suggested above, we can change a digital version of some aspect of reality in any way we want. I've used the simple example of tinkering with a digital photograph, but the possibilities for transformation go far beyond this. We can set up elaborate replicas of real-world systems and inspect them in detail. We can establish digital models and run them forward in time to see what might happen in the future. We can even create completely imaginary digital worlds and then explore them as if they were real. The computer not only gives us access to the immediate present world, but to the past and to possible future worlds – and to new worlds as well.

As I try to show in , this ability to encapsulate important features of the world inside a computer and then use the machine to transform them has already had a huge impact on the arts, on science and on our understanding of the way the world works. It may have an immense impact on politics and society in the future.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371