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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Manuel Morales: on 8/8/13 at 3:49am UTC, wrote Hi Olaf, With only 15 min. left to review and rate my essay, I can't help...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 8/8/13 at 2:29am UTC, wrote Dear Olaf, The ideas of John Wheeler, "trouble with physics" and the...

Olaf Dreyer: on 8/7/13 at 21:54pm UTC, wrote Dear Manuel: Thank you for your support and the kind words! I wish I did...

Manuel Morales: on 8/7/13 at 20:44pm UTC, wrote Olaf, Sorry for not getting to your excellent essay earlier. But in...

Sean Gryb: on 8/7/13 at 20:29pm UTC, wrote Dear Olaf, Thanks for the thought provoking essay! I agree with you on...

Olaf Dreyer: on 8/7/13 at 15:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Jim: Thanks for that comment! The voting gets really chaotic just...

James Hoover: on 8/7/13 at 15:16pm UTC, wrote Olaf, I believe the essay networks have struck. Your essay deserves a...

Cristinel Stoica: on 8/7/13 at 7:39am UTC, wrote Hi, votes are vanishing again.


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FQXi FORUM
May 21, 2019

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: Beyond information: A bit of meaning. by Olaf Dreyer [refresh]
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Author Olaf Dreyer wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 16:31 GMT
Essay Abstract

Is our world just information? We argue that our current notion of information has one serious shortcoming: It is quite literally meaningless. We suggest a meaningful extension of the notion of information that is dynamic, internal, approximate, contains an element of randomness, and is layered. This new notion of information derives from the interactions of material objects. Our answer to the essay question then is Bit from It or, more appropriately, Bit++ from It. We discuss how our new notion of information sheds light on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics and how it can be applied in philosophy and computer science.

Author Bio

Olaf Dreyer is a theoretical physicist working at the university in Rome. He received a PhD in Quantum Gravity at the Pennsylvania State University and has worked at the Perimeter Institute, Imperial College, and the MIT, where he was supported by an FQXi grant.

Download Essay PDF File

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 05:41 GMT
Dear Dr. Dreyer,

I have enjoyed reading your imaginative essay, including the story of the orchid and the moth, and particularly the suggestion of emergent randomness at a higher layer, which could address problems such as the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. I was especially struck by an analogy which came to my mind, and which is perhaps implicit in what you suggest, although you did not mention it explicitly. And that is the relationship between statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics. We may regard an underlying statistical system, such as a gas of molecules, to be a deterministic system [Newtonian dynamics]. However, the emergent coarse grained thermodynamic system does exhibit randomness and fluctuations about thermodynamic equilibrium (Brownian motion).

It is interesting that, and perhaps you already know it, this very feature of emergent randomness has been used by Stephen Adler and collaborators to develop their theory of Trace Dynamics and explain quantum measurement. Quantum theory is the equilibrium approximation to an underlying classical theory of matrix dynamics, and Brownian motion fluctuations about equilibrium are used to explain collapse of the wave-function during measurement [a la GRW / CSL]. [Quantum theory as an emergent phenomenon, S. L. Adler, Cambridge University Press].

It is heartening that your independent line of reasoning for emergent randomness in in accord with the above line of thought for emergent stochasticity in a modified quantum theory.

As for `bit from it’, I completely agree with you!

Regards,

Tejinder

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:17 GMT
Dear Tejinder,

thanks so much for reading my essay. I had to refresh my memory about Stephen's program (I only heard him give a talk once). I guess there is a difference after all. He proposes that quantum mechanics is emergent (quantum mechanics emerges from the statistical mechanics of matrix models). My proposal says that classical mechanics is emergent. My level 1 objects would be the classical (and emergent) objects. Level 0 is quantum mechanical.

I am still trying to understand whether his reasons for the emergence of randomness are related to mine.

Cheers

Olaf

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 06:12 GMT
Thanks Olaf - now that you explain it, I agree there is a difference. For Adler the emergent statistical thermodynamics is equivalent to a nonlinear quantum mechanics [= linear quantum mechanics + nonlinear fluctuations]. When the fluctuations are negligible, the emergent nonlinear quantum mechanics reduces to standard linear quantum theory. When the fluctuations are significant, the nonlinear quantum mechanics reduces to classical mechanics. In this sense both quantum mechanics and classical mechanics are emergent from the matrix models.

In your work, can one form a mathematical picture as to how emergent randomness is responsible for the quantum to classical transition?

Best,

Tejinder

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 12:55 GMT
Dear Tejinder:

The essay didn't seem the right place to present the math. That will have to wait for a longer paper. I'll let you know ...

Cheers

Olaf

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 21:10 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Simply excellent examples, woven into a unique analysis. I fully agree with your conclusion of "Bit from It". I'm still absorbing your idea that meaning is internal.

I conceive of energy as being transported from source to detector, whereupon, if a physical threshold is crossed and local structure is changed (informed) then information comes into existence and is...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:40 GMT
Dear Edwin:

Thank you for the interest in my essay. Maybe I can use your idea of a changing local structure to say what I mean. The local structure you are talking bout could be the molecules in the disk of a computer hard drive. The head of the drive can magnetize parts of the disk. This is when "information comes into existence and is registered or recorded", to use your words. Assume

1001

was written onto the disk. What does it mean? Does it represent September, is it part of a representation of pi, is it the red value of a pixel in an image, ...? None of this is clear from the bits themselves. The meaning is outside of 1001 (in the program accessing the bits, or the programmer, or the user looking at the computer screen). This is why I call this kind of meaning external.

What I have in mind is a notion of information that is internal. It arises by interacting with the representation with similar objects.

Looking forward to reading your essay.

Cheers

Olaf

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 18:04 GMT
Dear Olaf,

I agree with your above example. When the structure of the magnetic coating changes, the information comes into existence and is registered. But the interpretation or 'meaning' of the information is external. (Lorraine Ford, in her essay, goes further, and does not consider the registered data to be 'information' until it is apprehended. The magnetic recording, in her terms, only 'represents' information. I tend to agree with her, but common usage is based on considering the stored local structure as information.) My point about energy transfer is to emphasize that there is no physical entity "information" being transmitted, only energy that can 'convey' information, if it finally crosses some threshold and is apprehended at some future time.

I will look at your essay again and try to understand your sense of internal information. I think you are saying that the meaning is implicit in the structure, such as moth and proboscis, and need not be interpreted externally, as Darwin did, whereas there simply is no meaning to the 1001 until and unless it is interpreted externally. Is this close?

Best,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 13:02 GMT
Dear Edwin:

This is very close to what I tried to say. The meaning comes from the interaction of the objects of the same kind.

Cheers

Olaf

P.S.: Sorry for replying so late. I had to finish this http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.6169. An attempt to replace Inflation.

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 02:35 GMT
Dear Olaf

Unfortunately, your essay is too large for automatic translation capabilities of my computer. Anyway,also wish you success.

And to change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition along with 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...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:42 GMT
Dear Hoang:

Thanks for the interest in my essay! I'll have a look at your article.

Cheers

Olaf

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Anonymous wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 04:47 GMT
Dr. Dreyer,

Hi. I liked your essay a lot, and your points about solids representing positions and information needing an external entity in order to give it meaning struck a chord with me. Some comments are:

1. In regard to your point that

"information should be seen as the basis of our description of the world [9, 10]. Our analysis shows that there is something...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:57 GMT
Dear Roger:

Thank you reading my essay so carefully. I am looking forward to having a look at your essay!

Cheers

Olaf

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 15:05 GMT
Dr. Dreyer,

it is a very clear and insightful exposition, but I think you miss an important point and that is the nature of the term "meaning" and its relationship to the term "purpose." You assign characteristics to the term meaning which more appropriately apply to purpose.

Meaning is inherently reductionistic, while purpose is necessarily contextual. We distill out meaning by eliminating all that is meaningless, then we apply this tidbit of knowledge to where it fits in a larger context in order to understand its purpose.

Meaning is a node, while purpose is where it fits in the network.

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:50 GMT
Dear John:

You say that

Meaning is inherently reductionistic, ...

What you are basically saying is that there are atoms of meaning. I do not think that this is true. I also do not think that purpose is really a better word. You might say that my whole point is that meaning is not reductionistic. Stu Kauffman put it this way:

The meaning of a cuckoo clock doesn't become apparent if you grind it

up and analyze the remains.

Thanks again for the interest.

Cheers

Olaf

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 03:31 GMT
Olaf,

Reductionism isn't necessarily a physical function. Consider your example of Darwin's deduction of the existence of that moth. He distilled from knowledge of the shape of the orchid's spur to mean there must be a particular insect that could reach the nectar. Yet if you then conceive the larger relationship, does the concept of meaning apply, or does the concept of purpose fit better?

I suppose you could say there is meaning to the synchronicity of the relationship and what it says about the inter-workings of nature, but that to would be a distillation of some deeper meaning.

Not trying to be linguistically nitpicky, but they are two words that I've given some consideration to and think "meaning" is overused and "purpose" is under appreciated. We are frequently tearing the environment apart, trying to find some hidden value or meaning and don't appreciate the ways in which everything gives everything else purpose.

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 09:54 GMT
Dear John:

Here is a definition for purpose:

The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

I am not comfortable with the "reason for" part. To use one of my examples, I think it is odd to say that the reason for the solid is to represent a position.

If you look at the quotes at the beginning of the last section of the essay you will see that both Shannon and Gleick use the word meaning. In my essay I am talking about the same thing.

Cheers

Olaf

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Manuel S Morales wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:14 GMT
Olaf,

I have sent an email requesting that FQXi extend to those of you who had their essay posted on July 5, 2013, be allowed additional days to compensate for the days of not being able to rate these essays.

My experience in conducting the online Tempt Destiny (TD) experiment from 2000 to 2012 gave me an understanding of the complexities involved in administrating an online competition which assures me that the competition will be back up and running soon. Ironically, the inability of not being able to rate the essays correlates with the TD experimental findings, as presented in my essay, which show how the acts of selection are fundamental to our physical existence.

Anyway, I hope that all entrants will be allocated the same opportunity to have their essay rated when they are posted, and if not possible due to technical difficulties, will have their opportunity adjusted accordingly. Best wishes to you with your entry.

Manuel

PS I will be reviewing and rating your entry after this function has been turned back on.

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:53 GMT
Dear Manual:

Thanks for the heads up. It looks like fqxi is having some technical problems. I will also email them.

Thanks again.

Cheers

Olaf

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Manuel S Morales replied on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 03:18 GMT
Olaf,

I have received word that although it was unfortunate that there was a delay in conducting the ratings, no extensions to the final deadline will be made. I will keep this in mind when I get a chance to review your essay later this week.

Best wishes,

Manuel

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 15:21 GMT
Hello Olaf,

A good presentation. My comments...

I cannot fault and I agree with your tower of layers and the direction of emergence. I think through this hierarchical arrangement meaningful descriptions of the reality we can apprehend will emerge.

But I wish you allowed layer 0 objects, RETAIN properties we think of as fundamental rather than coming to lack them in interacting with other layers. If that were so, layer 0 objects will resemble objects I described in my essay, especially as you also regard position as a fundamental property.

Permit me to rephrase your statements thus: " … there is something fundamentally wrong with this suggestion… that information should be seen as the basis of our description of the world".

Yes, but I believe you are open to the idea of 'It coming from Bit' and may have a change of mind, IF as you also say we adhere to your admonition or conviction that 'the bit-part is improved'.

I very much agree to this. It appears better understood than Bit. And one of my suggested improvements in Bit is a more comprehensive list of the available binary choices on our list of Bits. Appropriate layering can then be used to build Its.

Deserving of a good score. All the best and well done.

Akinbo

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 13:30 GMT
Dear Akinbo:

Thank you for the comments on my essay. Could you explain how an improved bit-part could change my mind? The improvement of the bit-part that I was talking about had to do with the idea that meaning would become internal. In my suggestion it did this through the interaction of things. Thus Bit from it.

Thanks again for the kind words. I have just downloaded your paper.

Cheers

Olaf

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Yutaka Shikano wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 23:34 GMT
Hi Olaf,

I really enjoyed reading your essay. Maybe, I feel the same philosophy in my essay http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1836 if you are interested in this, please read it.

As the same question to my essay, how to resolve the mathematical treatment "a bit"? Do you have any idea?

Best wishes,

Yutaka

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:04 GMT
Dear Yutaka:

Thank you for the interest in my essay. I have just read your essay and I very much like the operational point of view. I think I am not clear what you mean when you say

Operational thinking has been formalized as information theory.

Can you explain what you mean here?

Cheers

Olaf

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
Dear Olaf

Warren McCulloch an American neurophysiologist and cybernetician, known for his work on the foundation for certain brain theories and his contribution to the cybernetics movement once told:"Greatest riddle of the World "What is "the same information?"

That is modern version question of Plato.

Do you agree with him?

Regards

Yuri

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:09 GMT
Dear Yuri:

I guess the number of different contributions to this essay contest attest to the difficulty of coming up with a good description of what we mean by information. I am not sure that this the greatest riddle though.

Cheers

Olaf

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 05:11 GMT
Dear Olaf,

I found your essay very deep and well written. I like the new definition of information you propose, and I agree in particular that the meaning should be internal in the sense you use it, and layered. Also, that computation is emergent, hence includes random elements and is approximate. We agree that the view that particles should have well-defined position and momentum is at the origin of the dichotomous view promoted by the wave-particle duality and related puzzles. Maybe they are explained on a deeper layer. Could you please develop your proposal "that some of the puzzling features of quantum mechanics can be understood with our new view of information.".

Best regards,

Cristi Stoica

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 13:36 GMT
Dear Cristi:

Thank you for reading my essay and for commenting so favorably on it. I am developing the connection with quantum mechanics but I had to finish something else first (http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.6169).

Cheers

Olaf

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Member Giovanni Amelino-Camelia wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 08:42 GMT
ciao Olaf

so here it is!!

Reading it through I find your thesis even more intriguing than when you explained it to me before you started working on the essay.

I would claim that your line of reasoning here on it from bit is to some extent similar in spirit (in spite of the many difference in context and perspective) to the thesis put forward on time in the recent book by Lee Smolin.

And I think the complementarity between your essay and the one by Mauro D'Ariano is one of the most interesting aspects of this essay competition.

Congratulations!!

Giovanni

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:32 GMT
Dear Giovanni:

Thanks for these remarks! I guess I have to read Lee's book now.

The discussion with Mauro has just started (further down).

Cheers

Olaf

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Antony Ryan wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 13:55 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Nice approach. Defining Bit is difficult as you suggest and I think you've re-categorised it well. When you look at it this way, it does indeed suggest It is more fundamental. It also seems to she'd light on the measurement problem of Quantum Mechanics, as you say.

My essay concludes that Bit and It are equally fundamental perhaps revealing the Fibonacci sequence as an entropic arrow of time - hope you take a look.

Well done and best wishes for the contest,

Antony

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:45 GMT
Dear Antony:

Thank you for the interest in my essay. I had a look at your essay and I must say that I am not at all sure what the role of the Fibonacci numbers is. It seems a bit too much numerology to me.

Cheers

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Antony Ryan replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 19:48 GMT
Hi Olaf,

I'll explain over on my thread.

Cheers

Antony

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Chidi Idika wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 14:48 GMT
Dear Dreyer,

I am absolutely in agreement with your arguments. Absolutely so, because I think I have secured some data that back them!

Will you agree with me that your six characteristics of meaning is capture naturally by defining the "bit" as I have done namely:“…the “bit” is by definition no more than the harmonics (perturbation or amplitude or inverse-length) of the...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 14:37 GMT
Dear Chidi:

Thanks for reading my essay and for the comments. I have tried to read your essay but I had some problems with the axioms that you formulated (see your thread).

All the best in the contest.

Cheers

Olaf

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 10:04 GMT
Dear Olaf,

What a beautiful essay you have written! The six characteristics of meaning could have been fleshed out some more, but I realize that the length requirement puts a limit on how much you can say about each.

In the caption for fig. number 3 you wrote:"The tower of layers. The arrows indicate the direction of emergence. We pose the following question: How does layer 0 look like to someone who's lowest level meaningful objects are from layer 1?"

This is essentially the question with which I have occupied myself the last few years. I mention a principle that guides an answer to this question in the second half of my contribution to this contest. I really hope that you will take a look at it, and if you find it sufficiently interesting to want to know more, would be willing to discuss further.

All the best,

Armin

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 15:39 GMT
Dr. Dreyer,

I thought that your exceptionally well written essay was fascinating to read and absorbingly interesting. As a decrepit old realist, I would like to comment on it, however, I fear you might take my comment the wrong way, I do hope you are as gifted in tolerance as you are in writing skill.

In my essay BITTERS, I emphasize the importance of real uniqueness,once. Unfortunately, abstraction is not unique. All information is abstract.

Interaction is not unique, once.

Dynamic is not unique, once.

Internal is not unique, once.

Approximate is not unique, once.

Random is not unique, once.

Layered is not unique, once.

Wheeler ought to have asked:

Is the real Universe simple? Yes.

Is the abstract universe simple? No

I wish you luck in the contest,

Joe

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:29 GMT
Dear Joe:

Thanks so much for the kind words. Can you explain a bit more what you mean when you use the word once? I am not sure I understand.

Cheers

Olaf

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David Levan wrote on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 20:56 GMT
Dear Olaf,

I'm confused, but my best wishes to your road. It will be a long one.

Ideas in your foregoing articles were brilliant, but bit from it I think is a way to hell.

David

PS What about cogitation - there are no informations involved ?

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 13:17 GMT
Dear David:

Thanks for looking at my essay and especially for remembering the earlier ones!

I do think that thinking involves information. The point that I am trying to make is that the information has to have meaning. The way that information is stored has to be such that it does not require an outside dictionary. I argued for how this could be achieved.

Cheers

Olaf

P.S.: If you liked my earlier essays you might like http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.6169. (An alternative to inflation)

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 19:04 GMT
Dear Olaf,

You have been off your blog for a while, but no matter. I commented above. Nevertheless...

As the contest in Wheeler's honor draws to a close, leaving for the moment considerations of rating and prize money, and knowing we cannot all agree on whether 'it' comes from 'bit' or otherwise or even what 'it' and 'bit' mean, and as we may not be able to read all essays, though we should try, I pose the following 4 simple questions and will rate you accordingly before July 31 when I will be revisiting your blog.

"If you wake up one morning and dip your hand in your pocket and 'detect' a million dollars, then on your way back from work, you dip your hand again and find that there is nothing there…

1) Have you 'elicited' an information in the latter case?

2) If you did not 'participate' by putting your 'detector' hand in your pocket, can you 'elicit' information?

3) If the information is provided by the presence of the crisp notes ('its') you found in your pocket, can the absence of the notes, being an 'immaterial source' convey information?

Finally, leaving for the moment what the terms mean and whether or not they can be discretely expressed in the way spin information is discretely expressed, e.g. by electrons

4) Can the existence/non-existence of an 'it' be a binary choice, representable by 0 and 1?"

Answers can be in binary form for brevity, i.e. YES = 1, NO = 0, e.g. 0-1-0-1.

Best regards,

Akinbo

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WANG Xiong wrote on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 08:41 GMT
Hi Dreyer,

Thanks for your nice essay, well done

I enjoy reading it and gave it high rate

my essay may interest you Bit: from Breaking symmetry of it

Hope you enjoy it

Regards,

Xiong

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 15:06 GMT
Dear Xiong:

Thanks for reading my essay and commenting on it.

I think that you are absolutely correct in pointing out that symmetry breaking and information are related. In fact your point can be made clearly using Shannon's original definition of information. The information produced by cutting off the side of a square would then be 2 bits. In my essay I focused not only on the symmetry breaking itself but more on the dynamical aspect of generalized rigidity.

All the best in the contest.

Cheers

Olaf

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 06:16 GMT
Hi Dear Olaf,

I welcome your essay not for only it is written well and in attractive form, but mostly because you saying - ,,something is wrong here!,, Personally, I think the wrongness is too much that just enough to stop examine such topics at all. It is easy to realize if we go a little bit ahead and put next question. Let say the majority of people have voted ,,it from bit,, (or vs.) then what next? I mean nobody have seen actually ,,it,, and ,, bit,, waking himselfs separate each from others, but these are together always. The ,,it,, is a physical reality, which is characterized by some group of information (as example: value of mass, coordinates, impulse, forms, colour, laws of its behavior, and many others) I.e. we have actually the physical object with its attributes/properties, which is meaningless to divide each from others. The concept of ,,information,, (and its binary encoded form ,,bits,,) it is a abstract human's creations only (as well as the ,,language,, ,,mathematics,, and other abstract tools that can have the significance for us only, destined to use by our brains and not as himself existing kinds of things.)

My dear, in nowadays reality the physicists are confused so deeply; they already have just mixing totally different concepts and categories each with others (that is why we plying now such ,,it - bit,, games!) I have trying to show in my works that the problem has began much early and the way - how to solve it. Check please link text, if you find time! I am hopeful when I saw the some of professionals are doubtful and they thinking already that ,,something is wrong!,, I hope get your comments in my forum. I inclined to count your work as one valuable for me.

Regards,

George k.

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 11:00 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Delightful reading. We particularly agree with the statement:

"Naked bits require a dictionary that gives them meaning. Such a dictionary is necessarily external to the bits themselves and a description of the world that focuses solely on the bits will be incomplete."

And this:

"One of the perennial problems in philosophy is the problem of consciousness. One reason consciousness is puzzling is that there seems to be an in finite regression present."

If we simply accept this infinite regression as the necessary condition in which all meaning in the external "dictionary" is compressed into a continuum of meaning, all internal meaning invested in ordered bits of information maps 1 to 1 as uncompressed meaning that we can identify with measured phenomena.

Thanks for a great essay, and I do hope you find time to visit my essay as well.

Tom

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 23, 2013 @ 20:06 GMT
Olaf,

Excellent essay, beautifully presented with some very important insights compatible with an ambitious ontology I build in mine.

Your six part description is well considered, in fact although I agree and use that; "meaning arises through interaction" in particular I propose may be reduced to "action" as you can then have the acronym "RADIAL".!

Far more important for me is the characteristic of your new notion of information; "that it is layered", and I have not only agreed but I hope shown that; "some of the puzzling features of quantum mechanics can be understood with our new view of information."

I'm truly sorry I didn't get to yours earlier as our agreement on such important issues has lifted my spirits. I am scoring yours very high and I prevail on you to read, comment on and score my own apparently radical essay which I hope you will agree confirms the power of your proposal. I discuss the 'layers' mainly as as higher order 'sample spaces' and degrees of freedom in a hierarchical model. I even identify analogies to Kalusa's additional spaces.

Very well done, thank you and good luck in the final run in.

Best wishes.

Peter

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Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 07:59 GMT
Dear Olaf,

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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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 16:19 GMT
Dear Olaf

I looked in the archives of the titles and summary of your works.

I liked your clear lapidary style.I suggests that you are close to the truth.

Cheers

Yuri

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Than Tin wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 23:23 GMT
Dr. Dryer

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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Israel Perez wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 23:37 GMT
Dear Olaf

I read your essay and found it interesting. I'd like to comment about your idea that we observe reality by layers. It seems to me that this view is appropriate for the sake of organizing our thoughts. For instance, one can say that classical mechanics is one layer and quantum mechanics is a deeper layer and so on. We don't have any idea of how the world is at scales smaller than...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:48 GMT
Dear Israel:

Thank you for having a look at my essay!

You say:

The reality emerges by the interaction of objects and evolution of objects,

I agree. But then you say

so definitely information is crucial.

Can you explain this? I am not sure I understand.

Cheers

Olaf

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Israel Perez replied on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 17:54 GMT
Dear Olaf

Thanks for your reply. I mean "information" as synonym of "data". Without data we cannot know anything about the "it".

Cheers

Israel

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William Amos Carine wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 15:56 GMT
Dear Dreyer,

That was a bit beyond me! So having random positions is a way of describing asymmetry? It seems that cells or molecules must be governed the same as the bigger materials like the box, that is the emergent properties. Also, what precedes the symmetry breaking or switching from one to another in a lattice? Is it possible instead of having a symmetric model that needs to be broken to fit sometimes, to rather just have asymmetry form the get go? I see why it looks plausible, and surely is mathematically supported, yet I'm not convinced that it makes a rosy picture.

About the moth and flower example, one has to infer something wants the nectar. My thinking goes along the lines of looking just at the flower, there is not evidence of anything else. Yes, it has a deep nectar tube which is unusual, if one knows some botany (I don't but would like to), but the picture says nothing of evidence for anything else. The mental activity of linking plant to animal is needed, and is indeed made with knowledge applied to the picture after the flower is looked at. Take a person who is raised in confinement without an encyclopedia or any natural interaction with the environment. Consider a person raised in a ward with no windows for example. They, when presented with the flower, will not come to the conclusion that there is a moth rarity out there (actually the case). The orchid is not used alone.

Another point, I would think that whatever new level is reached would present the large objects as well. Otherwise, I could imagine being given a map of my street and address when locating a new place, and still have no hopes of finding the doormat.

Sincerely,

Amos.

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 17:33 GMT
Dear Amos:

Sorry if I wasn't clear. About the asymmetry:

When the system reaches a ground state it has fewer symmetries than before. Think of a system of spins. Before the transition they point in all possible directions after the transition all spins point in one direction. Which direction is determined by random fluctuations. That is the connection between randomness and asymmetry.

Thanks for the interest.

Cheers

Olaf

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 18:06 GMT
Olaf

Do have some opinion about?

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1818

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 17:01 GMT
Dear Yuri:

I liked the quote from Wheeler. I am not sure I get the claim. It would really help if you could state the claim more clearly. What are the places where the angle of 18 appears? Are there exceptions? What works? What does not?

The point with these kind of things is that they might signify something deep or they might just lead you astray. People have invested a lot of time on the fact that the fine structure constant is 1/137. Why 137? As far as I can tell no good reason has been given yet.

It would really help if you'd work on the presentation.

Cheers

Olaf

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:04 GMT
Dear Olaf

Thank you for constructional criticism of my essay. It benefits rather than complimenting from nonprofessionals.

I will try to answer your questions.

1.My observation 18 deg concerning only pseudoscalar mesons where spin=0 and two charged leptons(mu and tau) where spin=1/2.But 18 deg no so important than symmetry around proton.This is an amazing symmetry was not noticed until now.

2.Puzzle of 137 is more sophisticate than 1836,because contains 3 components (c,e,h) whereas 1836 contains only one(m) component

Cheers

Yuri

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john stephan selye wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 18:27 GMT
Dear Olaf

I've downloaded your essay and will read it again before rating it.

My take on Bit and It is that they must be correlated by the presence of an evolving observer in any observation. This is one of the conclusions in my essay, and I'd be curious to see how you resolve this to your decidedly 'Bit from It' conclusion. (I think our view show some potentially common ground when you mention a computation that will be founded upon a 'dynamic evolution of emergent objects').

Best regards,

John

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 16:48 GMT
Dear John:

Thanks for the interest in my essay. I am going to have a look at your essay and see if I can answer your question.

Cheers

Olaf

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 02:04 GMT
Dear Olaf

Excellent. I really liked your nicely written essay for several reasons. I strongly share your skepticism that information is basic to the Universe. In my essay I said that:

"everything looks like a nail to a person holding a hammer. Surrounded by our computers in this Information Age, we are tempted, as Wheeler was in his It from Bit essay to regard the physical universe-IT- in terms of BITs".

Your lovely example of Darwin's Orchid and the Sphinx moth's proboscis illustrates your point very well. (Incidentally would Darwin have predicted the orchid had the moth been discovered first?! I think so!).

The example of the solid experienced on one level and underneath that the molecule array, and underneath that a proposed level zero echoes my view of the Universe as made up of an array of building blocks (your level zero) from which matter, energy, you and me and Wheeler, and finally... information, emerges: Beautiful Universe Theory also found here. The point I made in my fqxi essay is that we cannot know for sure, but we can offer models and se if they work.

With best wishes for your success

Vladimir

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 16:45 GMT
Dear Vladimir:

I think your quote is spot on! Thanks for the kind comments.

I'll have a look at your essay (so many essays to read!).

Cheers

Olaf

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Member Carlo Rovelli wrote on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 04:31 GMT
Hi Olaf,

I think I understand what you are after with this essay, and I think you have a point. But you are more posing a problem that solving it. You list features that an effective notion of information should capture, but you do not actually get to the point of clearly determining or defining this sharper notion of information. Am I misunderstanding?

ciao, Carlo

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 16:38 GMT
Dear Carlo:

Thanks for the interest in the essay and acknowledging the point. It was important for me to capture enough of the a notion of information (and the shortcomings of the old notion) that it becomes apparent how it is related to the solution of a number of problems (like the measurement problem).

A tighter definition will appear in a longer article.

Cheers

Olaf

P.S.: I think emergence is a really important concept that has not been properly understood yet. I think it is also important in quantum gravity and allows for results like these (alternative to inflation):

http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.6169

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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 14:20 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Your initiative to define or redefine the concept of information.

I believe your description of reality with layers. This reflects the state of our world.

I rated your essay accordingly to my appreciation.

Respectfully, and good luck.

Please visit My essay.

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 16:25 GMT
Dear Amazigh:

Thank you very much for the good wishes (and rating the essay)!

I'll have a look at your essay.

Cheers

Olaf

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 17:12 GMT
Olaf,

A very impressive analysis of information, utilizing science and the scientific method to prove your point. You use chemistry: "The solid acquires its meaning through its rigidity which goes back to the lattice of molecules that is making up the solid." You use physics: This direction breaks the rotational symmetry of space and is again chosen by random fluctuations during the formation of the ground state."

My essay does use logic as well to promote "Bit from It," in "It's Great to be the King," but without your precision. I would like to see your opinion of my essay.

Thanks for an incisive read.

Jim

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 16:19 GMT
Dear Jim:

Thanks for reading my essay and commenting on it so kindly.

Looking forward to your essay.

Cheers

Olaf

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James Lee Hoover replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 15:16 GMT
Olaf,

I believe the essay networks have struck. Your essay deserves a better rating.

Jim

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 15:22 GMT
Dear Jim:

Thanks for that comment! The voting gets really chaotic just before the deadline.

All the best.

Olaf

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Charles Raldo Card wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 04:51 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Thank you for your very insightful inquiry into the relationship of meaning and information! I particularly value your observation that the attribution of higher-level properties to lower-level objects may introduce irreducible randomness in the descriptions of those objects.

Sincerely,

Charles Card

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 16:02 GMT
Dear Charles:

Thanks so much for reading my essay and the kind comment!

I think the connection of emergence and randomness is important. In particular in connection with the measurement problem.

Cheers

Olaf

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Hugh Matlock wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 05:46 GMT
Hi Olaf,

Thank you for your investigation into the nature of information. You wrote:

> How does layer 0 look like to someone who's lowest level meaningful objects are from layer 1?

One way to look at such layers is through the lens of software architecture. In such an architecture, each layer defines primitive operations and the processing environment. These are implemented...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 15:58 GMT
Dear Hugh:

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply to my essay!

I have actually thought about the similarities between the layers in my essay and the layers that appear when programming. I think though that there is a clear difference. Think of a subroutine in a computer program:

procedure DoStuff( var1, var2, ... )

begin

...

return stuff;

You can use this procedure from a higher level and you do not care how it looks on the inside. You can replace the whole thing and as long as the new routine accepts the same variables and returns the same kind of data you'll be fine.

The important point is now that you have to know what kind of data to hand the procedure and what to expect back (c++ overloading is just a slight weakening of this). This part of the procedure is external to it. What I was describing is more internal. The meaning of a procedure becomes clear by kicking it.

I think our real difference becomes clear when you say: "Yes, but a dictionary is just information, more bits. It does not have to contain (even pointers to) Its." You are pointing to an infinite regression here that I want to end. The way I do this is by having Its interact. That is the key part of my argument.

Looking forward to reading your essay.

Cheers

Olaf

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Torsten Asselmeyer-Maluga wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 15:58 GMT
Dear Olaf,

interesting essay. You explain the role of information from first principles.

I thought about a concrete application containing all features of your ansatz.

If you like, please have a look into my essay.

Best wishes

Torsten

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 15:23 GMT
Dear Torsten:

Thank you for looking at my essay!

An application sounds very interesting. I'll definitely have a look.

Cheers

Olaf

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Paul Borrill wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 21:53 GMT
Olaf - nice essay highlighting the issue with information. I believe we met briefly at the Perimeter Institute a few years ago.

I'm not sure I like this essay as much as your previous work, but thank you for introducing me to the concept of generalized rigidity, which I was previously not aware of.

I wonder, how does that tie in with, say, an entangled system? Does entanglement create a physical rigidity in condensed matter?

As you will see, I have an interest in this topic as I explore the notion of entanglement in an argument that will at first seem quite absurd:

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1897

Good luck with the contest.

Kind regards, Paul

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 15:21 GMT
Dear Paul:

Thank you for your interest in my essay!

Regarding the question of entanglement and rigidity it seems that there is no direct connection because standard examples of rigidity are not entangled (think of the product state of all spins up). This is an ongoing and hot research topic right now: How important is entanglement for the low energy properties of large quantum systems? (Papers by Verstraate should have answers)

I'll have a look at your essay!

All the best.

Olaf

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Member Giacomo Mauro D'Ariano wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 23:21 GMT
Dear Olaf

I'd like to report something that I have already said in my thread, answering to your post, about your nicely written and interesting essay. To be honest I should confess that I share essentially nothing of your essay, though I rated it high since it is pleasant to read, provocative, and complementary to mine as Giovanni Amelino-Camelia says.

What I do not share is the...

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Than Tin wrote on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 06:17 GMT
Dear All

A standard-issue big city all-glass high-rise stands across the street from my usual bus stop. When I look up the high-rise facade, I can see the reflections of the near-by buildings and the white clouds from the sky above. Even when everything else looks pretty much the same, the reflections of the clouds are different, hour to hour and day to day.

After I boarded the bus,...

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 15:11 GMT
Dear Than:

Thanks for the wishes.

All the best.

Olaf

P.S.: Have you looked at http://xkcd.com/1240/.

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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 18:34 GMT
Dear Olaf,

We are at the end of this essay contest.

In conclusion, at the question to know if Information is more fundamental than Matter, there is a good reason to answer that Matter is made of an amazing mixture of eInfo and eEnergy, at the same time.

Matter is thus eInfo made with eEnergy rather than answer it is made with eEnergy and eInfo ; because eInfo is eEnergy, and the one does not go without the other one.

eEnergy and eInfo are the two basic Principles of the eUniverse. Nothing can exist if it is not eEnergy, and any object is eInfo, and therefore eEnergy.

And consequently our eReality is eInfo made with eEnergy. And the final verdict is : eReality is virtual, and virtuality is our fundamental eReality.

Good luck to the winners,

And see you soon, with good news on this topic, and the Theory of Everything.

Amazigh H.

I rated your essay.

Please visit My essay.

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Charles Raldo Card wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:50 GMT
Late-in-the-Day Thoughts about the Essays I’ve Read

I am sending to you the following thoughts because I found your essay particularly well stated, insightful, and helpful, even though in certain respects we may significantly diverge in our viewpoints. Thank you! Lumping and sorting is a dangerous adventure; let me apologize in advance if I have significantly misread or misrepresented...

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Sundance Bilson-Thompson wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 03:58 GMT
Hi Olaf,

I enjoyed the choice of examples in your essay, in particular that of the orchid and moth, and the fact that a solid as a representation of position doesn't require the external definition of a coordinate system. I'm not so sure that your example of a molecule being moved, while a large crystal remains unmoved was a good one though. A crystal lattice is in effect a single, albeit very large and hence massive, molecule. A small molecule moves more than a large crystal simply because its inertial mass is so small that a modest force will accelerate it noticeably. A large crystal will behave exactly the same way, but with an acceleration that is too small to notice. Perhaps it would have been better to refer to something like the fact that a single water molecule only behaves like a molecule, but several water molecules can form a liquid, a solid, or a gas, each with different emergent behaviours.

I very much liked your speculation about the role of different layers of reality inducting the randomness we observe in quantum mechanics. This is similar to some of my own speculations, that I hope we get to discuss sometime.

Regards,

Sundance

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 06:50 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Your essay looks interesting to me because I find there weighty doubt that is - ,,Something goes wrong!,, I has invited you to dialog on this, to be decided together - what can be wrong and what will be right to do (see my post above). However you did not answer! (As well as not answering many of High Professionals!) I am asking myself; way this people saying ,,A,, but they do not want to continued and say ,,B,, and nexts also?

Now I am going rete your work on high score because you says ,,Something is wrong!,,

Best wishes,

George Kirakosyan

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 07:02 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Your essay looks interesting to me because I find there weighty doubt that is - ,,Something goes wrong!,, I has invited you to dialog on this matter, to be decided together - what can be wrong and what will be right to do (see my post above). However you did not answer! (As well as not answering to this matter many of High Professionals!) Then I am asking myself; way this people saying ,,A,, but they do not want to continue and to say ,,B,, and nexts too???

Now I am going rete your work on high score because you says honestly ,,Something is wrong!,,

Best wishes,

George Kirakosyan

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 07:39 GMT
Hi, votes are vanishing again.

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Member Sean Gryb wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 20:29 GMT
Dear Olaf,

Thanks for the thought provoking essay!

I agree with you on Bit From It!

Hope you are doing well, and it is nice to see you in the competition.

Sean.

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Manuel S Morales wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 20:44 GMT
Olaf,

Sorry for not getting to your excellent essay earlier. But in hindsight, my high support of your essay at this late hour will hopefully hold up.

Cutting to the chase, here's what struck me the most about your essay. Your comment, "We have shown that meaning can be internal but it requires us to give up the idea that our world is pure information." which then led to your conclusion, "Our view of information suggests that there should be a new paradigm of computation that we might call emergent computation." is most profound. I find that dynamic evolution of emergent objects to be reflective of the findings of the recently concluded 12 year experiment I have concluded. So indeed, your assessment has empirical basis.

Well done!

Manuel

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Author Olaf Dreyer replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 21:54 GMT
Dear Manuel:

Thank you for your support and the kind words!

I wish I did have more time to look at all the essays but other things kept me from doing that. I am definitely going to have a look at your essay.

All the best

Olaf

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Manuel S Morales replied on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 03:49 GMT
Hi Olaf,

With only 15 min. left to review and rate my essay, I can't help but wonder if you have reviewed it yet? Please advise.

Thanks,

Manuel

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 02:29 GMT
Dear Olaf,

The ideas of John Wheeler, "trouble with physics" and the contest itself FQXi make every researcher to "dig" deep into philosophy. John Wheeler left a good covenant: "Philosophy is too important to be left to the philosophers".

Very interesting essay, deep analysis to the essential spirit of Descartes, new ideas and eidoses, extremely important, profound conclusions:

«The narrow view of information that was introduced by Shannon served us well during the fast evolution of computer technology in the last _fty years but we think that we are now running up against its limitations. We have already hinted at how our new view of information can be used to see the measurement problem in quantum mechanics in a new light. Other possible applications include philosophy and computer science itself.»

«Our view of information suggests that there should be a new paradigm of computation that we might call emergent computation. This computation will consists of the dynamic evolution of emergent objects. The six characteristics that we have outlined in section III will be present here. In particular the computation will by necessity include random elements and be approximate. Two properties not shared with our current model of computation. The most important aspect of emergent computation will be that the meaning of the objects in the computation is completely internal.»

Best regards,

Vladimir

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