a pair of researchers want to rebuild the concept of the habitable zone using a more fundamental concept of computation. They argue that the best chances of finding signs of life are where there is easiest access to computation. The researchers argue that these so-called “computational zones” require three characteristics. One, there must be the capacity for computation, which means that there is a rich set of chemistry available. Two, there must be a raw form of energy, like sunlight or hydrothermal vents. And lastly, computation requires a substrate—something in which the computation can take place.
The traditional view of habitable zones can now be seen as a subset of a much larger concept of computational zones.