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The Complexity Conundrum
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Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

February 22, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Defining Information [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Jan. 8, 2014 @ 18:10 GMT
Ok, so I'm a little out of synch in terms of blogging, and technically this should have been the first post about FQXi's Physics of Information meeting, but hey, causality's indefinite at the fundamental level, right?

Anyway, the first panel discussion on Monday addressed "Perspectives on Information in its many forms" and Max Tegmark asked participants to each give a one sentence definition of what information *is*. Enjoy:

Alex Vilenkin: Indexical information is information an observer has about himself.

Carlo Rovelli: The notion of information useful in physics is Shannon Relative Information between two systems.

Fred Adams: Information is a MEASURE of the CONTENT of a signal or structure.

Giulio Tononi: Integrated Information is how a system or mechanism constrains its past and its future.

Jos Uffink: Fisher Information measures how easily distinguishable different probability distributions are by statistical inference.

Kevin Knuth: “Information is that which constrains our beliefs.” – Ariel Caticha

Luis Garay: Horizon Entropy counts microstates of the black hole.

Marcelo Gleiser: Knowledge is meaningful information.

Matt Pusey: The information of X is the length (in bits) of the shortest program to generate X.

Olimpia Lombardi: The concept of information deserves a pluralist interpretation.

Steve Giddings: Quantum information is a characteristic of quantum-mechanical systems or subsystems - corresponding to the different possible states that they may realize - that is conserved for a closed system under quantum-mechanical evolution and can be transferred between subsystems of a larger quantum system.

Wayne Myrvold: Information is the change of belief state that occurs when an agent learns something new.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jan. 9, 2014 @ 14:26 GMT
Re Alex Vilenkin "Indexical information is information an observer has about himself.":

So how would you label information an observer has about the rest of reality? If you add the 2 types of partial information together do you get a whole? Isn't an observer, in essence, a subject?

Re Kevin Knuth "Information is that which constrains our beliefs. - Ariel Caticha":

Presumably our beliefs are themselves formed by "information", which may be "true" or "false" - we can't always tell.

Re Marcelo Gleiser "Knowledge is meaningful information.":

Surely information is subjective experience? The numbers letters and squiggles on the pages of an unread textbook or computer screen REPRESENT information, but actual meaningful information requires subjective experience i.e. it requires a subject to be able to read and understand the squiggles.

Re Wayne Myrvold "Information is the change of belief state that occurs when an agent learns something new.":

That "something new" might be true or false, you can't always tell. If a particle could be considered to be an agent, presumably this would be the simplest possible case of the apprehension of information ; but if the agent were complex (i.e. a living thing composed of particles) the apprehension of information would be more complex, allowing "true" and "false" information?

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 01:22 GMT
What? No fuss about the next essay contest??? How Should Humanity Steer the Future?

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Pentcho Valev replied on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 08:46 GMT
"What? No fuss about the next essay contest??? How Should Humanity Steer the Future?"

Physics is dead and FQXi are going to replace it with information, free will, ethics, magic, black magic perhaps, humanitarianism, futurism. The process is irreversible - why should there be any fuss?

Pentcho Valev

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 09:10 GMT
I was taken aback by the essay contest title as well. We are not politicians or sociologists. I was similarly taken aback by the title of the 2013 contest though I confess not as much as this time, however some essays relevant to physics still managed to come forth. I think with some imagination one should give it a try. But I think for the 2015 the community should have a say or suggestions on the essay topic. I think Armin Shirazi and someone else made some more relevant suggestions on topics.


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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 18:38 GMT
Don't forget, we have to forget at least 99,999% of the information on structures we receive via eyes and ears during our lifetime. Too much information is a burden.

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Robert H McEachern replied on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 23:13 GMT

Actually, about 99.99999999999% of the information content of light is lost, before it ever reaches the optic nerve. An input bandwidth of 2.5x1014 Hz is reduced down to just 10 Hz!

Rob McEachern

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 00:40 GMT
Knowledge is information. Wisdom is in the editing.

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Plato Hagel wrote on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 19:48 GMT
Wouldn't information lie at the heart of what energy/matter begins as it forms as an emergent property of what we as consciousness use? In this way it begins as a asymmetrical expression from a state of symmetry?

One might say that energy valuation is determinant of an aspect and use of that consciousness? An energy level?

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