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Jesse Liu: on 3/18/17 at 11:10am UTC, wrote Hi Conrad, Thank you for taking the time to read our essay and your kind...

William Goodwin: on 3/17/17 at 19:51pm UTC, wrote Jesse and Sonali, I read your essay with great interest. Certainly the...

Alfredo Oliveira: on 3/15/17 at 10:09am UTC, wrote Dear Jesse and Sonali You present a general approach to the problem,...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 3/14/17 at 14:05pm UTC, wrote Nice essay Sonali Mohapatra, Your ideas and thinking are excellent, but I...

Willy K: on 3/14/17 at 5:49am UTC, wrote Hi Jesse/Sonali I found your essay to be quite on the mark regarding its...

Joe Fisher: on 3/13/17 at 16:14pm UTC, wrote Dear Jesse Liu and Sonali Mohapatra, Please excuse me for I have no...

Héctor Gianni: on 3/12/17 at 23:25pm UTC, wrote Dear sonali Mohapatra I invite you and every physicist to read my work...

Conrad Johnson: on 3/11/17 at 15:00pm UTC, wrote Jesse and Sonali – A very interesting and well-informed essay, with a...


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March 23, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Informational Unification of Intelligent Life with Fundamental Physics. by Jesse Liu and Sonali Mohapatra [refresh]
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This essay's rating: Community = 4.5; Public = 4.0

Author Sonali Mohapatra wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 15:11 GMT
Essay Abstract

The appearance of informational ideas across the natural sciences is highly suggestive. This essay argues that the conceptual dichotomy between fundamental physics and the emergence of intelligent life will be reconciled in a framework underpinned by physical information. Case studies from foundational physics to non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the origin of biology to consciousness draw from recent advances in the literature. By systematically synthesizing the rich phenomenological roles of information, we pinpoint a series of informational phase transitions that engendered life and high-level cognition. Natural language emerged as an additional channel of information transfer on top of genetics, allowing agents to plan from ancestral experience unencumbered by neural memory or lifespan.

Author Bio

Jesse Liu is a PhD student in Experimental Physics at the University of Oxford. Sonali Mohapatra is pursuing a PhD in Theoretical Physics at the University of Sussex, with research interests in Quantum Gravity. They met while studying at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Download Essay PDF File

Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 04:46 GMT
Dear Jesse and Sonali,

Re “Practically, information has two hallmarks: 1) substrate independence - we regard information without referring to its medium of instantiation; 2) interoperability - we move information across media and its properties are unchanged. These traits seem universal, whether we speak of magnetic tape or genetic material.”

Then why not take the DNA out of a cell and replace it with magnetic tape? And why not take the magnetic tape out of a tape-reading machine and replace it with DNA?

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Jesse Liu replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 16:29 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

Thank you for your interesting question.

An instructive way to understand it is that even though information may be instantiated on nucleic acids or tape, the hardware-software matters if information can be read, understood and transferred - an idea we briefly discuss later in the essay. Another example is that we cannot play the song off a CD using an MP3 player even though it's the same song (and essentially same information), because the hardware and software are incompatible. Similarly, a cell does not have the hardware or software to directly decode the information on tape and vice versa.



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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 00:50 GMT
Dear Jesse,

But, are you claiming that information can simply exist in an objective or Platonic way, without local physical instantiation, and without being fully embedded in the universe via relationship to other aspects of physical reality?



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Jesse Liu replied on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 10:22 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

Interesting question. Actually quite the contrary - information must exist physically, as we argue in say section IIIA. Substrate independence does not imply information need not have local physical instantiation. The media of instantiation is unimportant for the content of the information, but information still requires a physical medium to exist. A state with information is physically distinct from one without - indeed Landauer's principle implies erasing one bit results in energy dissipation. Information is related to other aspects of physical reality via the fundamental interactions (forces). After all, if a non-interacting physical object cannot change, it cannot be distinguished from a state without information.



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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 15:00 GMT
Jesse and Sonali –

A very interesting and well-informed essay, with a tremendous scope. My only criticism would be that the level of detail often seems to overwhelm the broad picture you’re sketching. But the details are all relevant, and I appreciate the references.

I hope you’ll find time to look at my essay and let me know what you think, since it deals (at a higher level...

view entire post

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Jesse Liu replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 11:10 GMT
Hi Conrad,

Thank you for taking the time to read our essay and your kind comments. You certainly raise interesting issues and we appreciate your interesting take on this subject so I'll read yours in due course.

Quantifying degrees of perception and environmental interaction in a continuous way is certainly consistent with integrated information theory's 'Phi' measure (indeed there...

view entire post

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 23:25 GMT
Dear sonali Mohapatra

I invite you and every physicist to read my work “TIME ORIGIN,DEFINITION AND EMPIRICAL MEANING FOR PHYSICISTS, Héctor Daniel Gianni ,I’m not a physicist.

How people interested in “Time” could feel about related things to the subject.

1) Intellectuals interested in Time issues usually have a nice and creative wander for the unknown.

2) They usually enjoy this wander of their searches around it.

3) For millenniums this wander has been shared by a lot of creative people around the world.

4) What if suddenly, something considered quasi impossible to be found or discovered such as “Time” definition and experimental meaning confronts them?

5) Their reaction would be like, something unbelievable,… a kind of disappointment, probably interpreted as a loss of wander…..

6) ….worst than that, if we say that what was found or discovered wasn’t a viable theory, but a proved fact.

7) Then it would become offensive to be part of the millenary problem solution, instead of being a reason for happiness and satisfaction.

8) The reader approach to the news would be paradoxically adverse.

9) Instead, I think it should be a nice welcome to discovery, to be received with opened arms and considered to be read with full attention.

11)Time “existence” is exclusive as a “measuring system”, its physical existence can’t be proved by science, as the “time system” is. Experimentally “time” is “movement”, we can prove that, showing that with clocks we measure “constant and uniform” movement and not “the so called Time”.

12)The original “time manuscript” has 23 pages, my manuscript in this contest has only 9 pages.

I share this brief with people interested in “time” and with physicists who have been in sore need of this issue for the last 50 or 60 years.


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Joe Fisher wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 16:14 GMT
Dear Jesse Liu and Sonali Mohapatra,

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Willy K wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 05:49 GMT
Hi Jesse/Sonali

I found your essay to be quite on the mark regarding its treatment of intelligence. I am in total agreement with the three phase transitions you suggest – life, consciousness and language. My essay looked more at extrinsic intelligence (Constitutional nation state) since intrinsic intelligence (brains) required a lot more expertise.

The model that I ended up suggesting for extrinsic intelligence could also be construed to agree that consciousness is at a different stage compared to language. This becomes possible if 'consciousness' can be understood as Constitutional Democracy, while 'language capacity' is understood to be technological prowess triggered by the fourth Right in the model (Economics of Hayek and Smith).

It may help to know that the model originally only had seven stages; two stage (the fourth and seventh) were added later on, in order to add more sophistication. The essay did not permit enough space for me to add this nuance of a two phase wrinkle being present within it. But since your essay addresses this squarely (albeit at the intrinsic level of brains), I thought it would be good to point this out.

Warm Regards, Willy

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 14:05 GMT
Nice essay Sonali Mohapatra,

Your ideas and thinking are excellent, but I want have some discussion on some points like…

Fundamental physics enjoys spectacularly principled and predictive success. The recent direct observations of the Higgs boson [1, 2] and gravitational waves [3] are among the most exquisite experimental tests of the Standard Model and General...

view entire post

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 10:09 GMT
Dear Jesse and Sonali

You present a general approach to the problem, interesting, well written. This is a starting point, a wandering, it does not really “explains” the evolution to complexity displayed by the universe, but it points to a road.

I recognize part of your reasoning, as I also wandered by similar paths long ago. But it comes a time when one has to reach results. That time has arrived to me, and I have clear results to present. Maybe you would be interested in seeing my essay because, as you are young, so I think, and you have already pretty consistent ideas on the subject, you may benefit from my work and advance in your understanding of the subject.

All the best,

Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira

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William B Goodwin wrote on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 19:51 GMT
Jesse and Sonali,

I read your essay with great interest. Certainly the development of language and mathematics provided a tremendous boost to human learning. I like your phases of development: life, consciousness, language and high intelligence. In my essay I noted the brain development from a stimulus-reaction, to remembering past events (hence learned behaviors) and to the ability to imagine future events. If I were to rewrite it, I would include language development.

For my use of aims and intentions, the person needs to imagine future outcomes and select a path to achieve the most desirable outcome. I ignore the weak use of intentions as in “I intend to lose weight” with the hidden meaning that “I probably won’t lose it”.

In my essay I pose some new ideas. I raise the possibility of an information dimension where our thoughts, imagination, and emotions are stored. Think of the emotions around your first teenage love and the subsequent breakup. The brain uses its power in the physical dimension, such as its electromagnetic impulses, to access this dimension. But this information dimension does not have to follow the physical laws. We can imagine things that are not true in the physical world. For the most part, humans use this dimension that is within the brain. In some rare cases, people can access information beyond the individual brain.

While this is not part of my essay, I mention it to stimulate your thinking. In the quantum world, one experiment was to separate entangled particles by a large distance, then simultaneous measure their spin. The knowledge of the first particle’s measurement was conducted faster than the speed of light to the second particle. So if this pair-wise knowledge occurs in the information dimension, then maybe the information dimension is not bounded by the speed of light, i.e. information could have different properties than in the physical world.

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