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Jayakar Joseph: on 10/10/12 at 14:51pm UTC, wrote Dear Lorraine Ford, Continuum of string-matters described in...

Lorraine Ford: on 10/5/12 at 12:11pm UTC, wrote Dear Georgina, thanks for your comments and good luck wishes. I have...

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Yuri Danoyan: on 10/3/12 at 23:57pm UTC, wrote Dear Friend Don't forget please impartially evaluate my essay

Georgina Woodward: on 10/3/12 at 9:53am UTC, wrote Dear Lorraine, an interesting subject also addressed by some other contest...

Benjamin Dribus: on 10/2/12 at 6:10am UTC, wrote Dear Lorraine, Yes, I agree with you about the superhuman machine...

Lorraine Ford: on 10/1/12 at 14:24pm UTC, wrote Dear hoang cao hai, Thanks for your comments. I hope I have time to read...

Lorraine Ford: on 10/1/12 at 14:01pm UTC, wrote Dear Ben, Glad you enjoyed the essay, and thanks for your good wishes -...


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FQXi FORUM
May 25, 2019

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: The Universe Is Not Like a Computer by Lorraine Ford [refresh]
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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 11:58 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay challenges the view of digital physics that the universe is like a computer. It discusses information, computers and codes; it concludes that the universe is not like a computer, that physical matter is equivalent to "pure" information; and it then further speculates on the nature of reality.

Author Bio

Lorraine is a former long-time computer analyst and programmer. She lives with her husband, five ducks and a cat. Lorraine is interested in many things including animals and Australian native plants, as well as the subject of the nature of reality. She grows pelargoniums and collects historic bearded irises.

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 18:10 GMT
Lorraine

I am also admirer of Jacob D. Bekenstein

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nmann wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 21:47 GMT
"The trouble with codes is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get away from them. We seem to need to use codes in almost every sort of communication between people -- it's hard to envision anything that does not involve a type of code."

Very true, and the idea can be expanded. The coding is how you recognize the existence of information. If you can't read a code (e.g. whatever...

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 23:24 GMT
nmann,

Thanks for commenting on my essay.

What I was attempting to say was that information exists independently of code; that code is only used for advanced and sophisticated communication; that to convert code to information or vice versa requires an ability to decipher and/or a codebook; and that at the level of a fundamental particle only "pure" information must exist - there can be no code.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 23:31 GMT
Hi nmann,

You say, "Nobody has a clue how electrochemical codes in the brain convert to the symbolic information we see right here."

That's not quite right as stated, so I assume you meant to say something like:

"Nobody has a clue how electrochemical codes in RNA/DNA are interpreted by neuronal cells to grow a network that is later pruned according to usage in such a way that...

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nmann replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 00:30 GMT
Yo, E.E.K. --

I'm talking about brain function, which involves communication between individual or grouped (not necessarily contiguously grouped) neurons as well as within single cells. Communication implies transfer of information, which I can't separate from messaging, which I can't separate from encoding. You're referring to my Pattee quote, I think, where he was asking "how do molecules...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 22:38 GMT
Dear Lorraine Ford,

I agree with you 100% that the universe is "not like a computer", certainly not a *digital* computer, and also that it is false, even ridiculous, to say that "the universe is made of bits."

It is possible, I suppose, to see how some physicists (that you quote) can become so confused as to equate information with physical reality and even, as you note, with...

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Anonymous replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 00:30 GMT
Dear Edwin Eugene Klingman,

thanks for your compliment and good wishes.

But in my essay I DO, finally, equate "pure" information with experience and physical reality. I was trying to say that coded information, used in computers and for human communication, does not imply "pure" uncoded information (i.e.experience, meaning) - a code book or knowledge of the code is required. When a...

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 00:32 GMT
Anonymous above is me, Lorraine Ford

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 00:44 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Yes, after I saw your response to nmann I realized that I had misinterpreted your meaning of 'pure' information. Since I'm not exactly sure what you mean by it, I won't comment.

And you are correct that 'consciousness' carries so much baggage that it's a loaded word. In an earlier essay contest I wrote about it and defined the terms as exactly as possible, then used these in a hundred or so comments, but until two parties converge on common terminology it's almost useless to talk about consciousness.

Nevertheless, you've written a nice essay, and I congratulate you.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 04:10 GMT
You stated that:

"When physicists and others talk about information, they seem to have difficulty describing what information really is. Information lacks a clear concept."

I would agree that physicists do indeed have this difficulty. Information Theorists do not. The problem is that, what constitutes "information" for one observer, is not necessarily "information" to another,...

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Robert H McEachern replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 04:14 GMT
The last Anonymous post was from me. This is not the first time the system as logged me out just before I posted a message. I even checked to verify that I was logged in just one second before I clicked the "Submit New Post" button. Oh Well...

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 06:10 GMT
You say "what constitutes 'information' for one observer, is not necessarily 'information' to another". I agree: "pure" information, i.e. experience, has a point of view (see my essay). But I think my definition of "pure" information is different to yours: I don't agree that "...Such 'serial numbers' are 'pure information'".

Re "the sender need only send the 'serial number' of the intended message..." Clearly, after the processing of this serial number, the resultant message is still a code (coded information). Only when a human being deciphers all the layers of code in this resultant coded message, are you left with "pure" information i.e. experience. My essay tries to argue that information at the level of fundamental particles is not a code - it is "pure" information.

I would also like to comment that John Searle's "Chinese Room" is a very clunky explanation.

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Robert H McEachern replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 12:23 GMT
Your definition of "pure" information is indeed different from mine, and inconsistent with how the term "information" is used in Information Theory. Like the physicists, you are confusing "Information" with the "stuff" that gives "significance" or "meaning" to that "information". As you have said, experience is such "stuff".

For an "ignorant" observer, that has little or no a priori...

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S Halayka wrote on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 17:28 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Although I agree with Robert, I think I can also see where you're coming from.

Just to make sure I'm on the same page as you guys, I'd like to give an example of what I think of information is. Hopefully we all agree on at least this part.

If I receive three distinct symbols in the form of sentences such as "Hello.", "How are you today?", and "Lovely weather,...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 17:33 GMT
That wasn't very clear. When I concatenated the sentences, I took the result to be: "Hello. How are you today? Lovely weather, don't you think?". In other words, I forgot to say that I put spaces in-between the sentences as I was concatenating them. It does make a bit of a difference when working out the final information content per symbol (S = 2.8 with the two extra space characters, S = 2.9 without them), and so I apologize for making the mistaken of not specifying this in the original message.

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 04:22 GMT
Hi Shawn,

thanks for the compliment on my essay.

What I'm really saying is connected to my assertion that the universe is not like a computer. I'm saying that what Information Theory calls "information" is actually "coded information". But what underlies all this code? Computers only deal with coded information; and words, symbols and sentences are codes too. Code represents something else. What is the something else that that code represents?

I'm saying that when all the layers of code have been deciphered, you are left with "uncoded" "pure" information, and this "pure" information is experience.

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nmann wrote on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 17:54 GMT
Hi, Robert,

"The point that you have missed is that Information Theory is all about how inanimate entities, like radio receivers, deal with "information". Hence, its definition for "information" has nothing whatever to do with what more complex entities, like humans, subsequently do with that information. On the other hand, in a reductionist sense, it has a great deal to say about the...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 20:44 GMT
Apologies ahead of time if I'm being overly intrusive here, but I find this essay and these comments to be very fascinating, and I'd like to know more about what this is all about.

nmann, I think I see now what you mean by Shannon's measure of information does not explicitly account for meaning. In Shannon's measure, meaning is only implied -- each distinct symbol (message, datum, whatever...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 21:29 GMT
Hi Robert, Shawn, nmann, and Lorraine,

Re: "Shannon's measure of information does not explicitly account for meaning".

I am not at all certain that meaning can be quantified, and therefore that any meaning beyond Shannon's treatment is possible. Meaning is *always* contextual, as I indicated above with

"One if by land, two if by sea."

This is simply meaningless unless...

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nmann replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 21:51 GMT
Hi, S Halayka,

Some of what you're talking about sounds like it's relevant to the Newell-Simon theory in which meaning is claimed to reside in the symbols ("tokens") themselves instead of possessing the meaning a given culture or subculture assigns, often arbitrarily, to any particular symbol. According to Newell-Simon the programmed computer "reads" the symbol (token) then incorporates and...

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nmann wrote on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 17:58 GMT
Okay ... Jan Kahre. That neat "a" with the tiny "o" over it looked fine in the preview.

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nmann wrote on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 23:08 GMT
The first sentence of my long post should have read something like:

"Some of what you're talking about sounds like it's relevant to the Newell-Simon theory in which meaning is claimed to reside in the symbols ("tokens") themselves instead of THE SYMBOLS possessing WHATEVER meaning a given culture or subculture assigns, often arbitrarily, to THEM."

More or less.

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 23:45 GMT
Thank you for yet another reference to look up. I am reading it and trying to digest it all.

I suppose a better question is: what do you mean by 'information qua information'? Perhaps knowing that will help me see Lorraine's point of view better.

I apologize for taking this off on a tangent by bringing up "meaning", especially after Edwin had already pointed out that it was a can of worms. I just wanted to eliminate what's *not* beinig searched for. I do appreciate your patience with me.

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 00:19 GMT
Regardless of whether or not this has anything to do with what you're trying to explain... it sure would be neat if we created a neural network that takes an input state and gives an output state, and by luck (huge luck, involving how we picked the training to take place) the network started predicting experimentally-verifiable results that our current rule-based theories didn't call for. :)

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nmann replied on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 00:41 GMT
Shawn,

Never apologize! Never explain!

The "qua information" is maybe easier to get a handle on if you use "qua energy" as a paradigm. Nobody has ever observed Energy as such. But still we feel at home with the idea of Energy. We even have an intuitive sense of the concept Energy (or believe we do). It's like the feeling you get when you're running fast or taking off in an airplane....

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 18:26 GMT
The universe is a computer in the same way the brain is a computer. The computer is a model system which we devise that processes information. The double slit experiment for instance is a case where letting the electron pass through the two slits is an OR process, while if one tries to measure which slit the particle passes through this is an AND process. The two in a quantum logical setting...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 23:31 GMT
Hi Lawrence,

I'd like to make the point that "Information Theory" is NOT about information - its about CODED information. Do you agree?

Computers only deal with code (coded information), and when people communicate via speech or writing they are also using code. Code is meaningless until it is decoded, and to do this you need a code book or you need to understand the code. I contend in my essay that when all the layers of coded information are decoded, what is left is "pure" information i.e.experience.

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Lawrence B. Crowell replied on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 17:50 GMT
Pure information theory deals with any string of bits, whether coded or not. Coding comes if you impose some Golay or elliptic curve encryption or error correction. If one sends a signal through a noisy channel an encryption system is used to filter the signal at the other end of the channel. A black hole is a sort of quantum bit channel. A major goal is to figure out the encryption algorithm, or equivalently algebra, which permits information to be communicated through a black hole. By this is means if you send a certain amount of information into a black hole then, how is that information or signal ciphered in the Hawking radiation?

Cheers LC

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 13:16 GMT
Lawrence,

Re: "A black hole is a sort of quantum bit channel. A major goal is to figure out the encryption algorithm, or equivalently algebra, which permits information to be communicated through a black hole. By this is means if you send a certain amount of information into a black hole then, how is that information or signal ciphered in the Hawking radiation?"

Sorry, but I wouldn't be too sure that what you say has any relationship to reality - it's very speculative stuff!

I can only repeat that a string of bits is NOT information -it can only represent information. A string of bits has no information value until every layer of code it represents is decoded, at which stage it is "pure" information i.e. experience.

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nmann wrote on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 20:03 GMT
Robert,

Please forgive me for starting a new internal thread here, but I really hate the layout of these topic forums. Re: Kahre ... and you are going to despise this absolutely, I just know it (from Hans C. von Baeyer's blurb or review)(quote):

In The Mathematical Theory of Information Jan Kahre presents a bold new approach to classical information theory. With profound erudition,...

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Robert H McEachern replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 02:32 GMT
nmann,

"Z gets all its information about X from Y." Not too many entities get all the knowledge they possess from a single source. Even if there is only a single input message source, the a priori knowledge built into the receiver, and being exploited to recover info from that source, probably did not come from that source.

"Shannon's famous entropy measure is not a general...

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nmann replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 17:27 GMT
Robert,

The fact that a real X generally doesn't get all its information from any single Y is one of those obvious things a critical reader processes automatically. It's akin to the way thermodynamic entropy is sometimes introduced by discussing two hypothetical molecules, X and Y or A and B with different temperatures, and what occurs when you put them in isolated juxtaposition. Writ large...

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Robert H McEachern replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 21:03 GMT
If Kahre wishes to allow the unintelligible text on the newspaper (input, rather than output), to be "information" then he must also allow for the fact, that unbeknownst to him, I secretly genetically engineered the newspaper fibers. To decode my message, he must recover every DNA molecule, from every cell, from every fiber, string them all end-to-end and read my preamble, which then informs him he must acquire every newspaper on earth and do the same in order to read my complete message. Preventing such absurdities is why information is defined on the output of the recovery process, not the input.

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nmann wrote on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 17:29 GMT
Got my X and Y juxtaposed.

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S Halayka wrote on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 01:43 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I hope that I'm making some progress in understanding this problem that you pose.

I ran into some theorems by Tarski and Godel about the limitations of self-referential languages. They are interesting, but I'm not sure how these may or may not apply to what you are trying here. In any case, these theorems indirectly lead me to the thought that the only representation of the Universe that is not self-referential is the Universe itself. The problem I am seeing is that in order to have such a representation would be for us to create a Universe. This is pretty much where my thought process implodes and my ears begin to emit a little smoke. Have your thoughts about this essay ever traveled down this path? If so, did you make it further than I did?

- Shawn

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 01:46 GMT
Sorry,

"The problem I am seeing is that in order to have such a representation would be for us to create a Universe."

should have read

"The problem I am seeing is that in order to have such a representation, we would have to create a Universe."

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 13:39 GMT
Hi Shawn,

Self-referential languages, while an interesting topic, don't really apply to what I'm trying to say here. I have just posted to nmann on the subject of The Mathematical Theory of Information by Jan Kahre, and that post might be relevant to what you are trying to follow up.

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 17:55 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Ok, thank you for laying out some more constraints for the conversation. :)

The following is what had ran through my head when I made my last comment, and I believe that it kind of relates to what nmann and Lawrence are saying too. Forgive me if none of this is new to anyone. I just want to eliminate the dead end paths in my understanding.

I think that symbols...

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 13:32 GMT
I am basing my definition of information on the Khinchin-Shannon measure

S = -k sum_n P(n) log(P(n))

For P(n) the probability of the occurrence of the n-th bit. Entropy is the basic measure of information. If there is a process which changes the distribution of probabilities and thus this entropy measure, then information has been lost or erased. If you have a bit stream that...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 15:13 GMT
Lawrence,

thank you for a very detailed reply.

I contend that, in the case of communications, your above equations refer to coded information, and the problems of ensuring that the received coded message in a noisy environment is the same as the sent coded message. At no point does this coded message constitute information until a decoded version is subjectively experienced by a...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 18:09 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

The only possible way to seriously think of the universe as a computer, in my opinion, is to think of it as an analog computer, which is based on the continuum and adjusts flow rates according to physical parameters. In this sense the universe is not 'computing' anything. It is simply evolving. The idea that the universe must 'calculate' its next 'state' is a weird fantasy.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Shawn Halayka replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 20:06 GMT
Hi Edwin,

I completely agree with you. I don't know if it's quite right to say that spacetime and the interactions are really computation per-se. I mean, if we wish to symbolize the physics of a bear by dressing up in a bear costume and run around going "roar", is that really computation? I'm hard-pressed to draw such a parallel, and so I think that you're right that the universe itself is not so much a computer.

- Shawn

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 13:25 GMT
The transition from one state to another is an operation on a quantum bit. Actually it can be more than just a qubit, for this could involve 3 states or a ternary system (qutrit) or some n-ary system.

I think in some ways we are getting into some definition issues. The measure of information is just the entropy formula. If you send a stream of bits or “letters” down a channel and the...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 17:39 GMT
Hi Lawrence,

So, any process (operation) that gives any kind of change to anything is a computation. That strikes me as particularly anthropomorphic, because it forbids the possibility that there is such distinction between data and operations at the deepest level of reality. As for the non-black hole -> black hole -> non-black hole chain of transformation, can I assume that this would break unitarity because the input state (a non-black hole) would necessarily have less entropy than the intermediary state (a black hole)? Perhaps that's going too far afield of the conversation here, though it definitely does relate.

- Shawn

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 17:43 GMT
Apologies. I meant:

That strikes me as particularly anthropomorphic, because it forbids the possibility that there is NO such distinction between data and operations at the deepest level of reality.

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:20 GMT
Lawrence,

I think you and I see things from a totally different perspective, but I have printed your essay to read when I get the time, but I haven't read it yet.

Re "The transition from one state to another is an operation on a quantum bit.":

Are you saying that in "real life", as opposed to within a quantum computer, logical operations are performed on quantum states which...

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 19:26 GMT
Consider an elementary quantum system. You have a two state atom with states up and down. This is then permitted to interact with a photon. This is called the Cumming-Jaynes model. This is in a high-Q cavity so photons are not lost. If the atom is in the up state then it will emit a photon and transition to the down state. If the atom is in the down state it can absorb a photon and...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 16:43 GMT
Hi Lawrence,

I should have been more clear in what I was trying to say. I think that a separation of operands from operators seems to be a reflection of how humans habitually draw fictitious boundaries in this world. Like: An electron annihilates a photon. The annihilation process is an operation. Here we have drawn a fictitious boundary in time between the moment when the photon did exist...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 16:54 GMT
P.S. I should said "someone" instead of "you", since our opinion seems to be roughly the same. Sorry if that bit came off as finger pointing, because it wasn't meant to.

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 02:37 GMT
Lawrence,

Thanks for clarifying what you were saying. I have more to say about that below.

You will have noticed that, in my essay and posts, I have presumptuously redefined the word information: what is generally called information, I call coded information; what is generally called the subjective experience of meaning, I equate to information. This is because I think it is...

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 02:21 GMT
I've started a new post thread in order to repeat my assertion that Information Theories are misleading - they don't honestly represent reality. I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

Below is a copy of my 9 September 2012 @ 12:45 GMT post to nmann:

nmann, re the online chapter 1 of The Mathematical Theory of Information by Jan Kahre:

I have read it, and as expected, it's...

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Lawrence B. Crowell replied on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 13:50 GMT
There does appear to be a difference in how information is defined. In mathematical physics the definition of information is reflected by what I am indicating. The business of coding is a way one can determine or measure entropy of information in a channel. This does not necessarily mean that information passing through a channel, whether that channel is a simple transmission line or some...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 12:44 GMT
Hi Lawrence,

Obviously Information Theory equations are useful. But it's clear that the way that these theories conceptualise information leads to confusion: a Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article says that "Information is a conceptual labyrinth". It is astonishing that this 2011 article could conclude by saying: "The problem is that we still have to agree about what information is...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 12:55 GMT
Lawrence,

Re DNA: I think it is possible that the behaviours of DNA and its associated molecules might be understood by positing that molecular configurations represent a complex information experience (not a code) to other molecules. I don't think that molecular behaviour can be understood as computer-like processing of codes because, to my mind, this doesn't address the issue of how...

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 02:55 GMT
Lorraine

Your philosophy close to Wittgenstein

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractatus_Logico-Ph
ilosophicus

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 03:46 GMT
Thanks Yuri for that link. I will follow it up.

To my mind, what I'm trying to say is not so much philosophy, but an attempt to look at the nature of reality.

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Steve Jedi Dufourny wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 14:26 GMT
It exists indeed a lot of pelargoniums, they are well put there in Australia. The fact that there is nit a lot of water is interesting :)

Me I had a collection of fuschias and others plants of orangery. I had several varieties of passiflora, abutilon, Nerium(good also for Australia with cactaes).

Several tradescantia also. For the fuchsias, in australia ,it is possible. They dislike...

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S Halayka wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 15:15 GMT
The biggest problem with information theory today is that people don't seem to get the difference between data and information, that data are just symbols, and that it's only the distinctness of the data that gives rise to information.

If you want to verify the "objectivity" of a datum, compare it with other data to ensure that there is no distinctness. If one of the data is different from the others, then there is either a single liar or a conspiracy to hide the truth. This is why experiments are repeated.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 21:43 GMT
Hello ,

It is well said. Furthermore it exists a lot of kind of informations.

I agree totally that the best is to exppermiment and to test the hypothesis.

It is essential for our foundamental roads.

Regards

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 15:20 GMT
Steve,

thanks for your good luck wishes.

Yes, I've got Salvia officinalis in the garden just about to open its flowers. I've got a lot of Tradescantia virginiana too - it self-seeds everywhere and I have to pull a lot of it out because it smothers other plants with its strong growth. As you indicate, for healthy plants and animals you need healthy living soils.

Glad to hear...

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 23:07 GMT
Hello Ms Ford,

You are welcome, with pleasure.

Me also, glad to see someone loving plants and flowers.:)

The soils are indeed essential.It is even very very important. The compost is relevant.I have worked and tested a lot this topic. The thermophile phasis is relevant. I have extrapolated a natural motor, with several foundamental systems added. The vegetal totipotence is...

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 15:33 GMT
Hi Shawn,

But what do you mean by the word "information"? See my 14 September 2012 @ 12:44 GMT post regarding problems with definitions of the word "information": no one agrees exactly what the word means.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 18:53 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I believe that I mean precisely what Shannon meant: distinctness and balanced frequency of data gives rise to a non-zero average information content per datum, and this is given by his formula for the entropy S. It's just a fancy way of counting how many nats (or bits, if you prefer) would be needed to differentiate between the various distinct data.

When I read a...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 19:09 GMT
If I have the array of data '45','45','45','45','45', and I use a map to perform a count / sort, I get a map of size one:

'45' -> 5 count

For the array '45', '12', '13', '9', '84', I get a map of size five:

'9' -> 1 count

'12' -> 1 count

'13' -> 1 count

'45' -> 1 count

'84' -> 1 count

Intuitively, I know that the second...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 00:07 GMT
To be fair, Jung did make a distinction between symbols and signs. With symbols the link between the signifier and signified is unclear (coded, and without the code book in hand), whereas with signs the link is clear (coded, but with the code book in hand). For physicists, the experimental verification of the photon turned light from a symbol into a sign. Afterward, string theory turned the photon...

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 01:47 GMT
Shawn,

I am not a biologist. I worked with computers as an analyst programmer for probably more years than you have been alive: it's all about the representation and logical manipulation of coded information. There is nothing mystical here, it's all about reality.

From my point of view, this discussion is about whether or not subjective experience is the original source of what is called "information": to me, this discussion is an attempt to look at the nature of reality.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 17:39 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I apologize for not being clear, and for the result of that. I was trying not to be too forward in my reference to Dawkins and his work that overrode what Jung had already laid out for us. The fallout from this is professional information theorists who are under the impression that information is some kind of quantized thing that does not emerge from the data. That's not good,...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 17:51 GMT
"And of course, even the ciphertext is still coded (say, ASCII)."

was meant to be

"And of course, even the plaintext is still coded (say, ASCII, then English)."

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 16:35 GMT
In order to explain my point of view best, I will directly quote from Shannon's paper `A Mathematical Theory of Communication':

pp 1

- We send messages: ``The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point.''

- We will use the logarithmic function to discern the amount of information...

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 01:53 GMT
Hi Shawn,

Re your comments about information and data, I'll give you an example of how I interpret these words:

A reporter for a city newspaper wants to find out via an online survey whether people living in the northern suburbs of the city are more likely to believe that the moon is made of green cheese than people living in the south of the city. (With an assumption that everybody...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 05:03 GMT
Shawn,

Re "...non-zero average information content per datum, and this is given by his formula for the entropy S" and

"this translation is because if you only have one datum, then the information content is precisely S = ln(1) = 0" and

"S = ln(1) = 0 for the first array, S = ln(5) for the second array" :

What you are talking about is a mathematical/logical...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 18:07 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Other than some slight differences in terminology, I agree with what you are saying. No matter how we represent something, we are using the physical substance in this Universe to encode the meaning -- memories stored in our brain structure made up of "brain molecules", ink on paper made up of "ink and paper" molecules, gestures made up of "body molecules", sound waves made up...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 18:23 GMT
P.S. Any conceptual problems here are on my end. Do you have an example from anything else in this world of non-coded information that is analogous to the particle example?

In string theory, a particle is described as a string of energy, and there are presumably tiny hidden closed dimensions in which this energy flows around, which creates charge, etc, etc. This is all describable by...

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Vasily Kletushkin wrote on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 17:41 GMT
Hello Lorraine. I do not read English, this essay acquainted with your new comments. The universe does not have anything resembling a computer because it has a clean information. For the universe, this information is not encrypted. I understand. This theme is metaphysical. In my essay, the topic is concerned. Pure information I have - thought. The idea - abstract object that contains a mathematical model. Consciousness activates thought in terms of information and energy. Consciousness refers to the transcendental part of man. The idea of the universe is also activated in the information and energy - in the environment. Thus begins the world of substances and bodies. The computer also has a feature activation, but not thoughts, and information that the person writes. Thanks for the interesting comments, good luck in the contest.

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 17:57 GMT
Vasily,

Thanks for your comments and good luck wishes, and good luck to you too!

Lorraine

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 15:21 GMT
Hi Shawn,

Re your quotes from Shannon's paper "A Mathematical Theory of Communication":

e.g. "We will use the logarithmic function to discern the amount of information given by a finite number of messages", "H is a measure of the information, choice, uncertainty, entropy that arises from the probabilities of the symbols" etc.

These calculations relate to maximum number of coded messages you could get with your symbol set, depending on the message length. Ignoring the underlying binary code, a post is a message that uses the symbols a to z, spaces and numbers. But if I receive a post you send, then "the amount of information" determined by a logarithmic function is not much use to me personally. It's just technical stuff useful for making the system work efficiently.

Also nothing actually emerges from the symbols themselves: how could information magically emerge, an "emergent property of a sequence of messages"? It's only when messages are read that information is experienced.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 18:08 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Thank you for allowing me to explain myself further.

The information emerges from acyclical data. If the data is not acyclical, then there is no information.

Let's consider a 64-bit string of data: "10100101010101101010101010101101011000101001110100010011010
11010".

There are many orders L of Shannon information S for such a string.

To obtain the...

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Steve Jedi replied on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 22:19 GMT
Hello to both of you,

ok I am understanding better now :) the piece is fallen down :) it begins to interest me.

The taxonomy can be imrpoved with the spherical encoding.

So each letter and number , so informations and datas are encoded with the binar codes. ok it is relevant. So each thing have a specific binar code.so a specific turn off turn on system of encoding. A string...

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Steve Dufourny Jedi replied on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 00:35 GMT
Hello,

If we take the serie of uniqueness and if we multiplicate this serie.if we consider the serie with the central sphere, the most important volume, so it becomes relevant in continuing this serie where the volumes decrease.The number it increases. If this fractal is considered like a 3d spherical cell.So we can utilize a kind of universal spherical algorythm of spherization. Like a...

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S Halayka wrote on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 18:28 GMT
Correction:

Let's consider the string: "00". The Shannon information for order L = 1 and greater is zero because of this first order cycle of period one: 0 -> 0 -> 0 -> 0 -> 0 ... etc.

should have been:

Let's consider the string: "00000000". The Shannon information for order L = 1 and greater is zero because of this first order cycle of period one: 0 -> 0 ->...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 18:30 GMT
I didn't mean to start a new thread. Sorry. :(

Also, I found the Shannon paper via this link:

http://www.data-compression.com/theory.shtml

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 19:05 GMT
I pulled yet another bonehead maneuver:

Let's consider a Huffman encoding of a string of three symbols "abc", where the Huffman codes are a = `0', b = '10', c = '11', so that the string is rewritten as "01011". The Shannon information content per symbol is S = ln(3)/ln(2) = 1.58. The data content per symbol is 5/3 = 1.66.

should have been:

Let's consider a Huffman encoding of...

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 04:03 GMT
Hi Shawn,

My view of information is different to yours because I view meaningful information obtained from a physical message as a physical reality that leads to (possible) physical outcomes. I'm talking about (what might be envisaged as) an unbroken succession of physical outcomes mediated by laws of nature, symmetry, fundamental constants and what is known as "quantum indeterminacy". I think that, by contrast, the "info content" and the "data content" don't seem to lead to physical outcomes.

I think that information is physical, or to put it another way, physical reality is largely but not entirely accounted for by information that we can represent symbolically. E.g. mass and charge are categories of information that exist at the "particle level"; but living things utilize more complex executive-level categories of information derived from more basic categories of information. This is what I mean by information.

What I try to argue in my essay is that subjective experience is the entirely natural way that information is apprehended in the universe. Subjective experience is meaningful information. This information is not coded, it is just pure information; it doesn't exist as (e.g.) zeroes and ones which must then be interpreted (by a code book) in order to obtain what the zeroes and ones are meant to represent.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 16:45 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I'll try to show you how I see things from a purely physical point of view, without computers involved.

Imagine that you and I both own not quite adjacent castles, and there is a forest full of dangerous beasts that surrounds and separates our castles. We can't send our messengers on foot or by wing because the beasts always end up eating them for lunch. So, we devise a...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 17:04 GMT
I hope that no one thinks that I'm saying that individual sentences cannot be ripped apart and analyzed for information content, because that's clearly not true. Information content is based on context and level of distinguish-ability.

This like the Huffman code example.

'a' = '0', b = '10', c = '11'.

The 'a' = '0' symbol has an actual information content of ln(3)/ln(2), as...

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 17:55 GMT
To be fair, there is indistinguishability amongst particles of the same type, so I suppose it's better to say "permutation" explosion rather than "combination" explosion, ie. a system state consists of 13 photons of energy x, and 2 photons of energy y, and it does not matter which of the photons are of energy x or energy -- just their total counts per energy matters. There are different state counting rules for fermions too. Regardless, it is the total distinct number of states (or if you prefer the continuous approach, the probability density) that gives the entropy. I don't want to appear to be abusing the physics too much.

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S Halayka wrote on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 20:48 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Thinking harder about it, perhaps I can see where our difference in opinion comes from. It springs from an assumption about the probability of the states over time.

Consider a coin flip. How much information content is there in one flip? 1 bit, but *only* if one *assumes* that the coin is perfectly balanced and the 2^1 states are equally probable. But, there is such a...

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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 10:58 GMT
Hello Lorraine,

Do you think a universe empty of life would have information in it? It seems to me that if it were not for one complication, this whole question would be the usual problem of trying to distinguish between the description and the reality.

In physics, you have the reality, then you have the mathematical description. Both the main theories have trouble with the reality...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 02:10 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

my contention is that an information infrastructure underlies all other reality: it underlies laws of nature and physical matter. Information is internal to the universe, it has a point of view, it is subjective experience.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Jonathan Kerr replied on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 16:12 GMT
Hello Lorraine,

thanks for your reply. I agree that the information within reality is subjective. To me it's something we extract from reality. It sounds like you think that our universe had a point of view even before living creatures had evolved, to extract information from it.

I meant information is 'subjective' meaning humans as the subject. Did you mean 'subjective' with the universe as the subject? Or something else?

Best wishes, Jonathan

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 21:50 GMT
The computer and the universe

John Archibald Wheeler

Abstract

The reasons are briefly recalled why (1) time cannot be a primordial category in the description of nature, but secondary, approximate and derived, and (2) the laws of physics could not have been engraved for all time upon a tablet of granite, but had to come into being by a higgledy-piggledy mechanism. It is...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 02:32 GMT
Hi Yuri,

I haven't got access to that article, though I would like to read it. Perhaps my local library can help.

- Lorraine

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 23:57 GMT
Dear Friend

Don't forget please impartially evaluate my essay

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 01:48 GMT
Hi Shawn,

I think our "difference in opinion" comes about because you are talking about coded information, numeric measures like "the average information content per symbol" in a coded message, and measures of probability, whereas my focus is on meaningful information i.e. subjective experience. My essay contends that the universe is NOT like a computer; fundamental level information in the universe is NOT like the coded information that a computer deals with.

Have you considered how the universe apprehends and utilizes information? I contend that subjective experience is the entirely natural way that fundamental-level information is apprehended in the universe. I contend that only subjective experience/meaningful information has a direct input on physical outcomes in the next moment in time. Fundamental-level reality does not utilize the numeric measures and codes you talk about; they are not subjective experience/meaningful information, and they don't lead to physical outcomes.

At the human level, subjective experience/meaningful information can be derived from a message e.g. "one red then one blue pulse" (i.e. "Danger, monsters attacking") or it might not come from a message e.g. it might come from personally observing monsters attacking. Messages are totally inert - they don't lead to physical outcomes like a person running away. Only subjective experience/meaningful information can lead to such physical outcomes. What is important is subjective experience, not coded messages; code is only a tool, a conduit to subjective experience.

Re categories of information: I mean categories more in the philosophical sense, without the associated category theory baggage. My view is that objects are not fundamental; its information categories and information category relationships that are fundamental, and together they can form new information categories. I contend that numbers found in reality (e.g. fundamental constants) must derive from info category relationships and self-relationships, i.e. numbers derive from the basic nature of reality, they therefore have "internal structure", they are not themselves fundamental entities, and they are not external to the universe. Numbers must be accounted for, and they must never be left out of any theories about the nature of reality.

This is just my current view of reality, for what it's worth. Excuse me for presuming to offer you advice, but I think you should spend a lot more time just thinking about my view AND other views about the nature of reality. Its useful to attempt to build your own models of reality: you can check them for consistency, compare them against other models of reality, and regularly change them as required!

I have really appreciated discussing these things with you. All the best,

Lorraine

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Member Hector Zenil wrote on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 21:00 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

Despite the recurrent common use of Shannon's work when people refer to a theory of information, Shannon's theory is mostly about communication capacity. Shannon provided the fundamental unit of digital information but the cutting-edge definitions of information content (and meaning) are provided by Algorithmic Information Theory as developed by Kolmogorov, Chaitin, Solomonoff, and Levin, among others. I think the authors you cite are using the term in a more general and less technical way in the quotations you provide.

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 23:16 GMT
Dear Hector,

I do understand that "Shannon's theory is mostly about communication capacity" - I've never thought otherwise! I complain about "Information Theories", e.g. in my 9 September @ 12:45 GMT post about the online chapter 1 of The Mathematical Theory of Information by Jan Kahre, because they mix up meaningful information (subjective experience) and coded information in the same sentence, without identifying the important difference. So called "events" are actually subjective experience of events, e.g. from the above book:

(1.2.1) "inf(B@A)"

Here B represents a (coded) newspaper article about an event, and A represents the event. (The newspaper article is coded because words are a code). But actually A does not represent an objective event. So-called event A is actually the reporter's subjective experience of event A, and B is the coded representation of that subjective experience.

My view is that subjective experience is the beginning and end of information: in between you might have coded messages in the form of human speech or via computer/communications.

I think that the quotations I provide/authors I cite are taken from posts I have received. I don't think the discussion was meant to be technical: from my point of view the discussion was about the primary place of meaningful information/subjective experience.

I contend that subjective experience is the entirely natural way that information is apprehended in the universe. Subjective experience is meaningful information. This information is not coded, it is just pure information; it doesn't exist as (e.g.) zeroes and ones which must then be interpreted (e.g. by a code book) in order to obtain what the zeroes and ones are meant to represent. I.e. the universe is not like a computer.

If "cutting-edge definitions of information content (and meaning)...provided by Algorithmic Information Theory as developed by Kolmogorov, Chaitin, Solomonoff, and Levin" do not acknowledge subjective experience, that perhaps they are trying to analyze and represent subjective experience, then I think they fail to present the whole picture.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 08:52 GMT
Hello Lorraine,

I put a further question after your post, though it is partly addressed in your post above. But I still don't know if you think information exists without life forms around. On the one hand you say:

"an information infrastructure underlies all other reality"

But above you say:

"subjective experience is the beginning and end of information"

These potentially contradict each other. What happens in a universe empty of life, or in our universe before life evolved? Is the 'information infrastructure' in place yet?

Thank you, best wishes,

Jonathan

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 14:13 GMT
Hello Jonathan,

Yes, I think information "exists without life-forms around". I think laws of nature and physical matter represent a fundamental information infrastructure, with the elements of the infrastructure being categories of information (which we represent with the symbols for e.g. mass, charge), and information relationships (which we represent with symbols like + - / *). These are aspects of reality that really exist - they are internal to the universe. But it's important to remember that there's a big difference between reality and the symbols we use to represent it. On the other hand, quantum mechanics seems to indicate that not all of fundamental reality is precisely representable symbolically.

Another very important fundamental aspect of information is numbers: I think it is clear that all numbers, including numbers found in nature, are constructed from and derive from information category relationships and self-relationships. This question of the nature of numbers confirms in my mind that viewing reality as an "information infrastructure" involving categories makes sense. And, by the way, why does physics seem to forget the fact that numbers are a very important aspect of physical reality that has to be accounted for? Why does physics take numbers for granted, externalising them to a Platonic heaven?

I think that there is also a question of how fundamental information is apprehended. I contend that subjective experience is a basic, primitive thing: it is the entirely natural way that information is apprehended in the universe. Information IS subjective experience.

Re "subjective experience is the beginning and end of information": In relation to human speech or communication via computer, I'm just trying to point out that relevant subjective experience exists BEFORE saying a word or typing a keyboard, and that any subsequent message/communication is not actually received until it is subjectively experienced. Information theories seem to hide the reality of meaningful information i.e. subjective experience.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 15:26 GMT
Thanks Lorraine,

well, that makes sense. From what you say elsewhere, I'd say it looks very much like 'information' is the wrong word for what you have in a universe without lifeforms. There's no-one to inform, and I'd say you just have the objective nature of the universe.

I think 'information' implies what we get from the universe, rather like the difference between 'landscape' and 'terrain', where the 'landscape' is with or without us there, while 'terrain' sometimes implies a hint of consideration about what humans will do with the place. But that goes off into semantics, and there's little need to really. Thanks for your reply.

best wishes, Jonathan

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 23:59 GMT
Jonathan,

I am astonished that you could interpret my words as in any way confirming your idea of an "objective nature of the universe": what I am saying is the exact opposite of this!!

Hector,

I guess Jonathan's interpretation of my words just goes to show that meaningful information exists in the subjective interpretation of code (words), not in the code (words) itself.

I think that subjective information experience can be almost precisely represented, especially at the level of fundamental particles. But I refute any suggestion that subjective meaning can be fully formalized, i.e. fully formally represented. This comes from the fact that there is a difference between the symbol and what a symbol represents: there is a difference between subject and object.

Best wishes,

Lorraine

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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 14:43 GMT
Hello Lorraine,

for me to find out what you think, I need to remove life forms from the equation. So I've been asking you about a universe devoid of life, or pre- the development of life, in the hope that you'll tell me what kind of information can exist there. Because you say information is 'subjective', it's hard to see what you mean.

This is to try to resolve the apparent paradox...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 09:52 GMT
Hello Jonathan,

I think that everything is internal to the universe. There are no external observers with objective points of view; there are only internal observers whose point of view is necessarily subjective. To a subject, the rest of reality including itself is a bit like an object. But in general, objective reality is something that is discovered by, and agreed on, by subjects e.g. scientists. This is the only way we can know objective reality.

A subjective observer in the universe is an experiencer of information: at the particle level there is e.g. mass and charge information; at the level of living things there must seemingly be many levels of information including executive level need-to-know type information. Physical reality is mainly accounted for by information alone. This information leads to physical outcomes in the next moment in time.

When you look at mathematical representations of the laws of nature, you see that the universe we know exists mainly because of information and information relationships. I contend that subjective experience is the entirely natural way that information is apprehended in the universe, even at the particle level. From our point of view a particle is a bit like an object, but I think that a particle is itself a subjective point of view on the rest of reality.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Jonathan Kerr replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 12:14 GMT
Hello Lorraine,

Well I don't know what you think about the universe before life emerged, but I'll leave it there. Thanks for the discussion, and good luck.

Best wishes, Jonathan

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 05:51 GMT
Jonathan,

You say: "I need to remove life forms from the equation. So I've been asking you about a universe devoid of life, or pre- the development of life, in the hope that you'll tell me what kind of information can exist there."

But what is your definition of information? In my essay and subsequent posts e.g. to Lawrence B. Crowell, I point out that the way Information Theories conceptualise information leads to confusion: a 2011 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article says that "Information is a conceptual labyrinth", and concludes by saying: "The problem is that we still have to agree about what information is exactly". (Semantic Conceptions of Information, based on Luciano Floridi's work, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-semantic)

In previous posts (not posts to you) I have tried to explain at length what's wrong with the way "Information Theories" view information. I contend that information is not about coded information or mathematical manipulations of measures of coded information: meaningful ("pure") information is information that leads to physical outcomes in "the next moment in time". Meaningful information is subjective experience: there is no other sort of information; clearly code is not information until it is decoded with a code book or inner knowledge and becomes subjective experience.

In relation to meaningful information/subjective experience, I think it is clear that particles are things that existed before the development of complex life. My view is that a particle is a subjective point of view on the rest of reality and that a particle subjectively experiences information (e.g. mass and charge). I've tried to put the subjectivity of information in context: it follows naturally from being internal to the universe.

Re the emergence of life: surely you can't think that life is something weird and totally unrelated to what came before it?

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Peter Jackson wrote on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 17:21 GMT
Ford

Lorraine

"matter at the particle level is equivalent to 'pure' information." what a clear and beautiful statement to drag abstraction back to reality, ranking along with; "...mathematics represents an artificial reality space"!

I too asked what is it underlying 'information'. What is it that changes from 'state to state' to give a 1 or 0 that then defines the classical universe, even causally?

A lovely essay, well argued and very readable without delving into technobabble. 130th is certainly way too low for it, so a good score coming from me.

In terms of the content and questions. I'm quite convinced I've resolved a few answers in my own essay and do hope you'll be able to read it and comment (and score it before the deadline!) but you must promise to tell me if you think I haven't gone fundamental enough or have missed something (or if you struggle with the iambic pentameter). Your 'enlightened programmer' view will be of great interest to me.

Well done, and many thanks

Peter

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 10:13 GMT
Peter,

thanks for your praise of my essay, and thanks for giving me a good score for it.

I will certainly read your essay and let you know what I think. This is one thing I'm having trouble with: reading enough essays!

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 20:37 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

I just finished reading your essay. You examine some very deep problems about the interplay among concepts such as information, meaning, context, codes, complexity, subjectivity versus objectivity, and so on. You also discuss the relationship of humans/observers/consciousness to these concepts. A few thoughts come to mind.

1. I agree that the information in the...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 14:01 GMT
Dear Ben,

Glad you enjoyed the essay, and thanks for your good wishes - good luck to you too in the essay contest.

I have my doubts about a superhuman machine intelligence which discovers a "theory of everything". One reason is: how would such computers/machines represent the non-deterministic elements of reality which, by definition, are not able to be precisely represented by either people or machines?

Another reason is: wouldn't such a theory of everything depend on the basic assumptions programmed into the machine? E.g. what if such an assumption is that numbers are fundamental elements of reality, but this assumption is wrong: what if numbers are actually constructed out of more fundamental elements of reality? How would such a machine transcend its basic assumptions?

I hope I have the time to read your essay, e.g. the bit about the "universal Schrodinger equation", soon.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus replied on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 06:10 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

Yes, I agree with you about the superhuman machine intelligence... this scenario was intended as a "reducto ad absurdum," but maybe I didn't make that very clear.

I would definitely appreciate any remarks you might have on my essay, since I see that you have an information-theoretic background. But of course I understand that there are a lot of essays to read! Take care,

Ben

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 03:50 GMT
Dear Lorraine Ford

Very interesting to see your essay.

Perhaps all of us are convinced that: the choice of yourself is right!That of course is reasonable.

So may be we should work together to let's the consider clearly defined for the basis foundations theoretical as the most challenging with intellectual of all of us.

Why we do not try to start with a real challenge...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 14:24 GMT
Dear hoang cao hai,

Thanks for your comments. I hope I have time to read your essay, which seems to be about the nature of mass.

Best wishes,

Lorraine

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 09:53 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

an interesting subject also addressed by some other contest entries. I like the clearway in which it is set out. It will take more time to read it thoroughly and think about everything you have said. I have also taken a look at some of the very interesting discussion it has generated.

I noticed from your biography that you mention a particular interest in reality.With that in mind I would be very grateful if you could take a look at my own essay, which uses an explanatory framework (of reality in the context of physics) to answer the essay question. Developed since last years essay competition. There is a high resolution version of the diagram 1. available in my essay discussion thread. Any thoughts on that or the essay in general would be marvellous. Good luck, Georgina : )

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 12:11 GMT
Dear Georgina,

thanks for your comments and good luck wishes. I have previously skimmed through your essay, but I have now printed it out to read in more detail.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 04:45 GMT
If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings in the contest are calculated in the next way. Suppose your rating is
and
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
of points. After it anyone give you
of points so you have
of points and
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
or
or
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
then the participant`s rating
was at the moment you rated him. From here it is seen that in the contest are special rules for ratings. And from here there are misunderstanding of some participants what is happened with their ratings. Moreover since community ratings are hided some participants do not sure how increase ratings of others and gives them maximum 10 points. But in the case the scale from 1 to 10 of points do not work, and some essays are overestimated and some essays are drop down. In my opinion it is a bad problem with this Contest rating process. I hope the FQXI community will change the rating process.

Sergey Fedosin

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 14:51 GMT
Dear Lorraine Ford,

Continuum of string-matters described in Coherently-cyclic cluster-matter paradigm of universe, indicates that the analogue expressions of universe needs quantum descriptions to compute its constructs. Thus in reality the universe does not compute its constructs, digitally.

With best wishes

Jayakar

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