> Not if information exists platonically. So the question is, what does
> it mean for a physical system to "represent" a certain piece of
> information? With the correct "one-time pad", any desired information
> can be extracted from any random block of data obtained by making any
> desired measurement of any physical system.
> If I take a randomly generated one-time pad and XOR it with some real
> block of data, the result will still be random. But somehow the
> original information is there. You have the same problem with
> computational processes, as pointed out by Putnam and Searle. The
> molecular/atomic vibrations of the particles in my chair could be
> interpreted, with the right mapping, as implementing any conceivable
> So unambiguously connecting information to the "physical" is not so
> easy, I think.
This is essentially the problem discussed by Chalmers in "Does a Rock Implement
Every Finite-State Automaton" at http://consc.net/papers/rock.html , and I
think it's also the idea behind Maudlin's Olympia thought experiment as well.
But for anyone who wants to imagine some set of "psychophysical laws"
connecting physical states to the measure of OMs I think there may be ways
around it. For example, instead of associating an OM with the passive idea of
"information", can't you associate with the causal structure instantiated by a
computer program that's actually running, as opposed to something like a mere
static printout of its states? Of course you'd need a precise mathematical
definition of the "causal structure" of a set of causally-related physical
events, but I don't see any reason why it should be impossible to come up with
a good definition. I think Chalmers attempts one based on counterfactuals in
that paper, though I'm not sure if I like that approach.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at