How much do our metaphors shape our perceptions? And what responsibility do we then have to manage our metaphors to manage our perceptions?
David F. Channell, professor of the history of science and technology at the University of Texas, Dallas, traces the consequence of the our preoccupation with explaining organic phenomena in digital terms.
In this article from Wired 12.02, "The Computer at Nature's Core", Channell explains:
Yet increasingly, the scientists who do the sort of pure research advocated by [Vannevar] Bush explain natural phenomena by invoking such man-made artifacts as the computer. Theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler has coined the phrase it from bit to convey the idea that the entire universe is the result of a series of yes-or-no choices that take place at the level of quantum mechanics. Much of the recent work on black holes, including Stephen Hawking's, places a great deal of emphasis on explaining the apparent loss of information when matter is drawn into one. Also, research into quantum computers has implied that matter itself processes information. This has led some in the pure research world to the controversial claim that the universe itself is governed by the laws of computation and is, in fact, a computer....
...If both the physical universe and the biological world are best understood in terms of information and computation - concepts that arise from the artificial world of technology - it no longer makes sense to think that technology results from an application of science. Indeed, if computation is the basis of all nature, then science is just applied technology.
If that's the case, then science becomes less purely contemplative and more purposeful, and as fraught with social and political goals as technology is. Scientific theories are more properly viewed not as discoveries but as human constructions. It's already happening in physics: Philosopher of science Andrew Pickering suggests that the quark, which in its unbound state has not - and some say cannot - be observed, should be regarded as a scientific invention rather than an actual particle. In the future, we may come to see the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) as a consequence of information theory and not the other way around.