On Saturday, June 16, 2012 12:56:39 PM UTC-4, John K Clark wrote:

> >> It's true that as I've described it using nothing but English it does 
>>> sound a little subjective and vague about where exactly the transition 
>>> between micro and macro states occurs, however if you use mathematics you 
>>> can become much more rigorous and show that  for some things, like a bucket 
>>> of water, changes at smaller and smaller scales produce exponentially 
>>> smaller changes at larger and larger scales; while for other things, like a 
>>> perfect diamond, that effect is much less pronounced.
>> > Less pronounced to whom though? 
> Less pronounced for anyone using the lens of mathematics. As the scale of 
> changes becomes smaller the result of those changes becomes smaller at 
> larger scales, and they do so in a way that can be precisely calculated 
> with statistical methods.  Depending on how many of these small scale 
> changes exist that lead to small changes at larger scales is how we 
> determine if something has high or low entropy.  

As the excerpt Brent posted says: "This entropy, H(S|O), depends on the 
information that a given observer, O, has about S".

> >  If a seed falls in a bucket of water, the water becomes part of an 
>> entropy reducing plant. 
> A plant may reduce entropy locally but it can't do so globally, nothing 
> can do that, entropy stays the same or increases, it never decreases.     

Yes, but we're only talking about local entropy and information.

> > If you look at the water over 10,000 years, you might see many low 
>> entropy forms, clouds, ice, etc while the diamond has comparatively high 
>> average entropy.
> No idea what you're talking about.

Saying that entropy depends on the scope and method of your perception:

"This entropy, H(S|O), depends on the information that a given observer, O, 
has about S" 

> > No, it depends on sense and participation. 
(translation: sense and participation = the qualities which allow an 
observer to be informed.)

> Information is a second order sense of a primary sense, derived through 
>> measurement, memory, inference, etc.
> So a 100 carat diamond must be exactly the same thing as a charcoal 
> briquette of the same weight because they are both made of nothing but 
> carbon atoms and neither the diamond nor the charcoal can sense anything. 

I don't say that carbon can't sense if it's organized like a diamond, only 
that it doesn't understand human thoughts and feelings.

> Or are you a fan of solipsism and think that nothing exists until you look 
> at it, 

Nope. But a universe that cannot see has nothing to look at.

> if so then you must believe that information is even more important than I 
> do because the ONLY thing that you or I or anybody can understand is 
> information, so if only what you understand exists then only information 
> exists.

Information is the process of being informed. That process has to do with 
sense imitation and integration, not with a substance of 'information' that 
exists independently of sense.

>> >> Bad example, MPEG and JPEG files deliberately loose information that, 
>>> due to the particular nature of the human visual system, make a only a 
>>> small contribution, considering their large size, to the look of the final 
>>> movie or picture. A Martian who's eyes work differently might throw away 
>>> different information. We should use lossless compression algorithms like 
>>> GIF or ZIP in examples like this.  
>> >No, that's exactly why it's a good example. It shows how information is 
>> subjective.
> The quality of information is subjective but it's quantity is not. 

"This entropy, H(S|O), depends on the information that a given observer, O, 
has about S"

Sounds like quantity also, to me.

> It is objectively true that there is more information in a bucket of water 
> than in the DNA of your body, 

Nope. Nothing about the information of anything is objectively true. It is 
conditional on the observer.

> but most human beings would consider it's quality to be much much less 
> because they don't care what a particular water molecule in that bucket is 
> doing.  

They don't care for a good reason. It has high quantity and precision but 
low significance and quality. That's the difference between organic 
intelligence and AI. We can tell the difference between what matters and 
what doesn't.

> > A Martian microscope might work differently might see movie stars 
>> pictures inside of molecules that ours miss.
> If the Martian is mathematically literate he could tell how much 
> information was in the image he was studying and we Earth people would 
> agree with him on that figure

There is no information in the image. There is no image in the image. Image 
and information are in the eye of the beholder. The rest is matter and 

> , although we might disagree about what parts of the image are important 
> and what parts are not. And a Martian would know the difference between a 
> lossless compression program

All programs begin with lost data from the start, since the input begins 
with a lossy sampling.

> and a lossy one and he would know that if he used the lossy one there 
> would not be enough information to exactly  reproduce the original picture 
> or movie or sound or martian klogknee or whatever the information is 
> encoded for. 
> Neither science nor mathematics can take sides in matters of taste, 
> physics can tell you how to build a bridge that won't fall down but it 
> can't tell you if building a bridge is something worth doing. 

Exactly. Which is why physics needs to expand if we want it to apply to the 
physical universe as it actually is, where physical organisms feel strongly 
about whether something is worth doing.

> > Warm water has more physical entropy than ice, but a movie of ice 
>> melting has more information entropy than a movie of water, if you use any 
>> sort of compression. That was my whole point.
> You're whole point was that a movie of something is more objective and in 
> your opinion more important than the real thing? 

Uh, no. Not. at all. My point is that regardless of what kind of 
compression algorithm you use, as long as you use the same one, the movie 
of the ice melting has higher information entropy than the warm water, and 
that is the reverse of the thermodynamic entropy of the physical water 
melting - which gains entropy as the ice melts, not loses it. This shows 
that a picture of water is not a map of water, and that no information is a 
complete map of what we think it refers to.

"This entropy, H(S|O), depends on the information that a given observer, O, 
has about S" is all that my thought experiment shows. Observation is a 
determining factor, not physics alone.

> > blue cannot be seen by the blind, no matter how convincingly we describe 
>> it to them
> You don't know that, nobody can know that. 

Yes, somebody can. I can describe blue to someone blind from birth and then 
when they get their eyesight surgically restored, they will know for sure 
whether or not my description evoked a blue experience for them.

> You can see blue without light in a jet black room just by putting 
> pressure on your eyeball, perhaps the blind see blue all the time but they 
> just don't know it's the same thing we mean when we say "blue".  

It depends on the circumstances of their blindness and where their visual 
system fails, but no, in the accounts I have read, it is affirmed that 
blind people who are able to see for the first time have no prior 
experience of it. By the same token, people who lose their eyesight 
completely at a young age gradually lose the ability to remember what 
things looked like.

> > The point is, that no scheme of compression or treatment of information 
>> has anything to do with the physical entropy of an actual substance. 
> I'd say mathematical and physical entropy have one hell of a lot to do 
> with each other! 

Yes but only through sense as the intermediary.

> Mathematical compression programs work by getting rid of redundancy in 
> files, the more redundancy they have, that is to say the less entropy in 
> them, the better they work; they don't work at all on white noise. A 
> physical crystal with its atoms all lined up in a regular lattice has a lot 
> of redundancy and thus little entropy, a bucket of water with its molecules 
> bumping around chaotically has much less redundancy and much more entrophy. 

Yes, but it's metaphor, not causality. Information isn't causing physical 
changes. We make of the two subjects in a similar way, sure, but so what? I 
might think that the sun looks like a pumpkin at sunset. I could prove that 
a photo of each contains a high ratio of orange frequency photons. That 
doesn't mean the sun is a pumpkin.

> > You can't compress the substance, because it is not information. 
>> Information is a subjective (or intersubjective) measurement, nothing more 
>> and nothing less. 
> If information is just subjective then when you've had a few too many 
> drinks and a charcoal briquette starts to look like a diamond to you then 
> it really is a diamond because the only difference between the two is the 
> information on how the carbon atoms are arranged.

There are a lot of differences between the two, but information isn't what 
those differences are made of. For humans we care about what we think looks 
beautiful and perfect and rare, so feeling that an embodiment of such 
qualities is figuratively 'part of us' is significant and makes us feel 
enthusiastic. None of that has anything to do with carbon atoms. The carbon 
has to do with it's durability and hardness and rarity, but the brilliance 
and transparency has nothing to do with carbon or specific arrangements of 
molecules. The value of a diamond has nothing to do with any information 
that it might hold. A diamond ring has no function that pertains to the 
information of the stone. It's all about sense and experience.

> If your above statement is true then it is also objectively true that you 
> Craig Weinberg can turn charcoal into diamond with nothing but the power of 
> your mind. Sounds like a comic book superhero. 
Straw man diversions.


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