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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

William Carine: on 7/29/13 at 17:44pm UTC, wrote Conrad, Thanks for condensing what you mean so it's more accessible and...

Conrad Johnson: on 7/27/13 at 12:31pm UTC, wrote Hi Amos - Please excuse me if I don't respond to all your notes and...

Conrad Johnson: on 7/27/13 at 11:50am UTC, wrote Akinbo - thank you very much, I'm glad you could make something of this. I...

William Carine: on 7/25/13 at 17:20pm UTC, wrote I forgot to ask another question. Could it be able that a theoretical and...

William Carine: on 7/25/13 at 17:15pm UTC, wrote Hey Conrad, What is meant by the statement that a physical situation...

Than Tin: on 7/25/13 at 3:05am UTC, wrote Dear Conrad Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech...

Akinbo Ojo: on 7/24/13 at 14:05pm UTC, wrote Dear Conrad, A thought provoking essay to be well rated. I also see you...

Conrad Johnson: on 7/24/13 at 13:52pm UTC, wrote Peter - I appreciate your thorough reading of my essay and your very...


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FQXi FORUM
May 23, 2019

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: On the Evolution of Determinate Information by Conrad Dale Johnson [refresh]
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Author Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 15:11 GMT
Essay Abstract

Wheeler’s original “It from Bit” proposal focused not on the digital structure of reality, but on the question-and-answer process through which physical information gets determined by observations. He envisioned the physical world not as a computer, but as a system that defines all its own information interactively, through measurement-processes. This essay pursues that idea, developing an evolutionary concept of measurement based on the fact that every way of measuring things depends on a context of other kinds of measurements. It argues that the foundational structure of a universe like ours, that can make all its own parameters observable, must necessarily be complicated. But this is a special kind of complexity, that we can understand as evolving through random selection.

Author Bio

I have lived mainly in the US. I have a long-standing interest in the conceptual foundations of physics, going back to graduate-school days at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where I earned my degree in History of Consciousness. My essay "An Observable World" was entered in last year's FQXi contest.

Download Essay PDF File

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 06:36 GMT
Dear Johnson,

Thank you for presenting your nice essay. I saw the abstract and will post my comments soon. So you can produce material from your thinking. . . .

I am requesting you to go through my essay also. And I take this opportunity to say, to come to reality and base your arguments on experimental results.

I failed mainly because I worked against the main stream. The...

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David M Reid wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 07:33 GMT
Hi, Conrad,

Your thesis was extremely well argued; both the exposition and the logic (nicely clear of mathematical formalisms to make it readable for the lay person) were very clear, without any glaring gaps. Bravo!

There are, naturally, some points that one can nitpick. For example, you make an interesting case for the inability of a circular and hence infinite backward recursion...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 13:39 GMT
David - thanks! I find it very difficult to be clear about this theme, so it's lovely to think I might have succeeded, at least for some readers.

I didn't mean to suggest that a mathematical treatment wouldn't be useful for describing any aspect of the complex of information-defining processes that make up our universe. But there's a difference between using various kinds of mathematics as...

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Antony Ryan wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 17:37 GMT
Dear Conrad,

I noticed you wrote "But in our universe, equations govern on.e on-one interactions between individual entities, and what happens in any situation depends on a non-linear combination of many different kinds of interactions going on at once".

This sounds quite logical and something that isn't often considered - important point!

I like that your essay is built...

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 06:47 GMT
Dear Conrad

It may be due to limited English proficiency of me, because I did not find the specific answer to our topics.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1802

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 13:58 GMT
You're right that I neglected to answer the question as to which is the more basic, It or Bit. I would say that the existence of physical entities and their properties (It) ultimately depends on the ability of the physical interaction to communicate this information. It's this ability to define information between systems that evolves, just as in biology what evolves is the ability to reproduce...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 02:52 GMT
Dear Conrad,

Your essay is very interesting. It almost seems you're giving Wheeler the benefit of the doubt. Your words make sense, but Wheelers are over the edge. Reality does NOT arise from the answer to yes and no questions, only our knowledge of reality. One might conclude either that Wheeler simply could not express himself well, or that he was a solipsist, or he was confused. ...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 15:56 GMT
Edwin -

I very much appreciate your careful reading of my essay, and your many specific comments. I will certainly go back to look at your essay again and post my notes on your thread.

Wheeler certainly did go over the top and threw out a lot of suggestions - in those days it seems, people were groping for ideas that were "crazy enough" to fit QM. But for purposes of this contest,...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 04:04 GMT
Conrad,

Thanks for the above comment. Indeed these ideas are very difficult, but I now have a much better idea of what you meant. I agree that it's worth thinking about.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 05:07 GMT
Send to all of you

THE ADDITIONAL ARTICLES AND A SMALL TEST FOR MUTUAL BENEFIT

To change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition and to demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the Absolute theory as well as to clarify the issues I mentioned in the essay and to avoid duplicate questions after receiving the opinion of you , I will add a reply to you :

1 . THE...

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 19:19 GMT
Conrad,

If given the time and the wits to evaluate over 120 more entries, I have a month to try. My seemingly whimsical title, “It’s good to be the king,” is serious about our subject.

Jim

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Anton Biermans wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 09:06 GMT
Hi Conrad,

''There's no such thing as information without a context that actually defines it.''

Yes: If there would be only a single charged particle among uncharged particles in the universe, then it wouldn't be able to express its charge in interactions. As it in that case it cannot be charged itself, charge, or any property, must be something which is shared by particles,...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 13:55 GMT
Anton -- thanks for your comments. I'm glad you appreciate this idea that the world is a self-defining information structure -- something that's in a way so obvious, but difficult to describe clearly... since the structure is so complex and involves so many different ways of interacting.

I think I agree with most of what you say, here and in your essay, but I'm not sure of the meaning of...

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Anton Biermans replied on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 01:46 GMT
Conrad,

Well, if the universe creates itself (present tense) out of nothing, without any outside interference, then particles obviously have to create themselves, each other, so in they ultimately must be both the product and source of their interactions, of forces between them. If particles create, cause one another into existence so owe their properties to each other, if by exchanging...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 15:18 GMT
Looking back over my essay, I think the weakest part is page 7, where I try to sketch how this evolutionary process works. There's a lot here I wish I'd thought through more clearly, though a better presentation might have taken more space than the essay permits.

I want to point out one major issue -- at times here I'm talking about a process in which "answering questions" -- that is, agreeing on a certain outcome of a measurement -- helps set up another question or measurement-context. This is the process that constitutes the self-defining structure of the world, at a particular stage in evolution. It constantly gives rise to new situations in which new selections become meaningful.

But at other times I'm talking about a higher-level process in which one self-defining system -- made of countless such Q&A events -- becomes a context within which a new, more complex structure of facts and principles can define itself, by asking and answering new kinds of questions. I failed to distinguish these different processes, which are (very roughly) analogous to the evolution of a given biological species versus the emergence of new species.

The conclusion of this section IV -- that in the course of evolution, the world could become increasingly determinate -- would apply to the combination of these processes.

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john stephan selye wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 13:44 GMT
Hi Conrad,

Yours is a common sense approach that puts complex matters in perspective in a very helpful way.

I agree that our information always depends on the web of our measurements - 'There’s no such thing as information without a context that actually defines it.'

And as you point out, information is ultimately based on our evolutionary nature - and its 'tangle of...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 13:48 GMT
Hi John -- Thanks for your comments, and I'm glad the essay made some sense to you. But the notion that "organisms are inevitably created from inorganic reality" is different from the concept of evolution through random selection that I'm working with here.

Though your approach sounds unusual, it follows the traditional route in physics of explaining the world by hypothesizing an...

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Manuel S Morales wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 03:59 GMT
Conrad,

Excellant essay and one I find in keeping with the findings of a recently concluded 12 year experiment which show how deterministic acts of selection evolve to states of matter. Much like what you have suggested in your essay.

I have some questions to run by you via email and would like to know what your email address is? My email address is msm@physicsofdestiny.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Manuel

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 13:57 GMT
Hi Manuel -

You and any other readers can contact me at conraddjohnson@gmail.com - note the double "d".

I read your essay, but haven't commented on it yet, since I'm still puzzling about your basic terms - the meaning of "selection" and its relationship to "destiny". In my context, "natural selection" just refers to whatever randomly occurs, in a given situation. What makes measurement special, I think, is that quite complex situations constantly arise, in our universe, that let these (constrained) random selections contribute to the set-up of other such situations, over and over again.

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Manuel S Morales replied on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 20:06 GMT
Hi Conrad,

Thank you for sharing your viewpoint regarding (constrained) random selections. Have you ever wondered how do we know if everything is random or not? Uncertainty without certainty makes uncertainty a certainty. So if our world is truly deterministic then there must be a way to establish this and that is what my findings are about.

Anyway, I truly enjoyed reading your clear and insightful essay and have rated it accordingly. I hope you do well in this competition and I hope more people in the community will read your essay.

Best wishes,

Manuel

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 19:03 GMT
Dear Conrad,

You put a good question: «And if at a deeper level things aren't fully determinate, if they turn out to obey laws only on average, then why does the world we observe end up looking so precisely factual and deterministic?» And it was in your essay a good answer, in the spirit of the ancients: "as above, so below." I wish you every success, with respect, Vladimir

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 18:40 GMT
Conrad,

I very much liked your exposé on Wheeler's ideas, especially your original take on measurement-processes presented in evolutionary terms. Your suggestion that "the process we call measurement -- including the communication of the results as the basis for setting up further measurements -- can also evolve through accidental selection" is brilliant! In this regard, have you read the...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 14:20 GMT
Hi Marina - I'm glad you found my essay - I read yours this morning and will add some comments to your thread there. I agree that in many ways we're thinking along the same lines, maybe because we're both looking at physics from the perspective of biology.

As to your comment - "It's funny how we tend to overlook the truths that appear self-evident" - more and more I think that the whole...

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Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 18:45 GMT
Dear Conrad,

I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on it. Meanwhile, please, go through my essay and post your comments.

Regards and good luck in the contest,

Sreenath BN.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1827

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 23:29 GMT
Conrad,

You have said that information has more to do with contexts that define it than that it can be cast in binary form. I'm gathering by your essay that you see information evolving from context to context as well as biological organisms.

There are a lot of good observations in your essay. You seem to speak of the macro world in your observations, not addressing the subatomic in...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 16:15 GMT
Hi Jim -- thanks for your note. You're right that my essay doesn't deal with the many pecularities of the quantum domain... very roughly, my viewpoint is that so far as measurement-processes are concerned, there's no difference between the macro- and micro-worlds.

There's a very great difference in the extent to which these same measurement-processes can produce something like a...

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 21:16 GMT
Conrad,

Great essay. It or Bit didn't matter a bit as it hit so many important and much ignored aspects right on the nail! Also well and clearly written and organised for such a tricky subject.

My favourite key points;

"we still have no definite idea of what constitutes a measurement, or why determinate information should depend on observer participation."

"....what...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 13:52 GMT
Peter -

I appreciate your thorough reading of my essay and your very generous comments! I have read your essay too and left my comments, though I'm afraid I'm not nearly as well-equipped to follow your arguments as you are to understand mine.

Thanks - Conrad

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Michel Planat wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 06:37 GMT
Dear Conrad,

I like your essay.

You write as a summry

"Its basis is just the fact that measurements need a context of other kinds of measurements. I’ll try to show that this already implies the kind of system of interactions that can evolve through natural selection."

In my essay,

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1789

I address the first topic...

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 13:49 GMT
Michel -- thanks very much. I did look at your essay some time ago and found your starting-point very interesting. I didn't comment or try to rate it, because I'm not at all familiar with the technical background, and wasn't clear as to the conclusion you draw from this work.

As to causality, whether in physics or biology, I wasn't clear enough about my "recursive" definitions. The...

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 14:05 GMT
Dear Conrad,

A thought provoking essay to be well rated. I also see you have good answers to questions from readers, so let me ask you one. How can you measure and conclude that something is existing? Especially if the thing has no colour, no mass, no charge, etc. That is, does existence have a measure?

Regards,

Akinbo

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:50 GMT
Akinbo - thank you very much, I'm glad you could make something of this.

I would say that existence has many measures - i.e. that what we mean by existence has to do with the way all these different kinds of measures work together. But the notion of the "bare" existence of a thing in itself, apart from any communication with other things - that is a very profound idea underlying Western thought almost all the way back to its beginning. Our tradition says that all other features of things have to be built on top of this ultimate reality.

That idea works in classical physics, but I think we need to get past it in order to get to the foundational level. It's like believing in the absolute personal identity of a human being as something independent of our abilities to communicate with each other and with ourselves. It's not that thinking in terms of absolutes is bad, but that we need to learn to appreciate the depth at which communicative connections operate in the world. And to me, thinking in terms of absolutes is a substitute for that kind of understanding.

Thanks again - Conrad

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Than Tin wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 03:05 GMT
Dear Conrad

Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/19
65/feynman-lecture.html)

said: “It always seems odd to me that the fundamental laws of physics, when discovered, can appear in so many different forms that are not apparently identical at first, but with a little mathematical fiddling you can show the...

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William Amos Carine wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 17:15 GMT
Hey Conrad,

What is meant by the statement that a physical situation "makes a difference which outcome actually occurs." I would think that the outcome is as important as the progressing to the moment or the getting there. It's less stressful thinking of things that way anyways.

Can you elaborate on the sentence "There can be no such thing as a single measurement-event; a context of...

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William Amos Carine replied on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 17:20 GMT
I forgot to ask another question. Could it be able that a theoretical and mathematical theory could also be realistic and not deterministic?

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Author Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 12:31 GMT
Hi Amos - Please excuse me if I don't respond to all your notes and questions... I'll try to hit the high points, though.

To begin with the last question and work backwards - there certainly are mathematical theories (notably quantum mechanics) that are not deterministic. I'm not sure in what sense you mean "realistic" though. As generally understood, the mathematics of QM does not...

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William Amos Carine replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 17:44 GMT
Conrad,

Thanks for condensing what you mean so it's more accessible and for going over those key points! I've been taken up with this idea that the self-contained view of physics isn't the only picture. There must be laws behind which do influence the whole context that "this structure" lies in. Maybe I forgot to go over a few crevices during spring cleaning.

When it is said in essence "the only evidence we have of information are interactions of one entity with another, these interactions requiring measurements that have a certain structure, and this is what is communicated between systems," then now I agree, though perhaps without full understanding.

I attached a document if a vague visual would speak better for you.

Appreciatively,

Amos.

attachments: Art_as_Analogy.jpg

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