Dear Mark and FIS Colleagues,

First of all. I support the idea of Mark to write a paper and to publish it in 
It will be nice to continue our common work this way.

At the second place, I want to point that till now the discussion on 
Is information physical?
was more-less chaotic – we had no thesis and antithesis to discuss and to come 
to some conclusions.

I think now, the Mark’s letter may be used as the needed thesis.

What about the ant-thesis? Well, I will try to write something below.

For me, physical, structural and mental  are one and the same.

Mental means physical reflections and physical processes in the Infos 
consciousness. I.e. “physical” include “mental”.

Structure (as I understand this concept) is mental reflection of the 
relationships “between” and/or “in” real (physical) entities as well as 
“between” and/or “in” mental (physical) entities.

I.e. “physical” include “mental” include “structural”.

Finally, IF  “information is physical, structural and mental” THEN simply the  
“information is physical”!

Friendly greetings

From: Burgin, Mark 
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:20 AM
Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

   Dear FISers,
   It was an interesting discussion, in which many highly intelligent and 
creative individuals participated expressing different points of view. Many 
interesting ideas were suggested. As a conclusion to this discussion, I would 
like to suggest a logical analysis of the problem based on our intrinsic and 
often tacit assumptions.

   To great extent, our possibility to answer the question “Is information 
physical? “ depends on our model of the world. Note that here physical means 
the nature of information and not its substance, or more exactly, the substance 
of its carrier, which can be physical, chemical biological or quantum. By the 
way, expression “quantum information” is only the way of expressing that the 
carrier of information belongs to the quantum level of nature. This is similar 
to the expressions “mixed numbers” or “decimal numbers”, which are only forms 
or number representations and not numbers themselves.
  If we assume that there is only the physical world, we have, at first, to 
answer the question “Does information exist? “ All FISers assume that 
information exists. Otherwise, they would not participate in our discussions. 
However, some people think differently (cf., for example, Furner, J. (2004) 
Information studies without information).

   Now assuming that information exists, we have only one option, namely, to 
admit that information is physical because only physical things exist.
   If we assume that there are two worlds - information is physical, we have 
three options assuming that information exists:
- information is physical
- information is mental
- information is both physical and mental  

Finally, coming to the Existential Triad of the World, which comprises three 
worlds - the physical world, the mental world and the world of structures, we 
have seven options assuming that information exists:
- information is physical
- information is mental
- information is structural  
- information is both physical and mental  
- information is both physical and structural  
- information is both structural and mental  
- information is physical, structural and mental  
The solution suggested by the general theory of information tries to avoid 
unnecessary multiplication of essences suggesting that information (in a 
general sense) exists in all three worlds but … in the physical world, it is 
called energy, in the mental world, it is called mental energy, and in the 
world of structures, it is called information (in the strict sense). This 
conclusion well correlates with the suggestion of Mark Johnson that information 
is both physical and not physical only the general theory of information makes 
this idea more exact and testable.
   In addition, being in the world of structures, information in the strict 
sense is represented in two other worlds by its representations and carriers. 
Note that any representation of information is its carrier but not each carrier 
of information is its representation. For instance, an envelope with a letter 
is a carrier of information in this letter but it is not its representation.
   Besides, it is possible to call all three faces of information by the name 
energy - physical energy, mental energy and structural energy.
   Finally, as many interesting ideas were suggested in this discussion, may be 
Krassimir will continue his excellent initiative combining the most interesting 
contributions into a paper with the title
information physical?
   and publish it in his esteemed Journal.
   Mark Burgin

On 5/11/2018 3:20 AM, Karl Javorszky wrote:

  Dear Arturo,  

  There were some reports in clinical psychology, about 30 years ago, that 
relate to the question whether a machine can pretend to be a therapist. That 
was the time as computers could newly be used in an interactive fashion, and 
the Rogers techniques were a current discovery.
  (Rogers developed a dialogue method where one does not address the contents 
of what the patient says, but rather the emotional aspects of the message, 
assumed to be at work in the patient.)

  They then said, that in some cases it was indistinguishable, whether a human 
or a machine provides the answer to a patient's elucidations. 

  Progress since then has surely made possible to create machines that are 
indistinguishable in interaction to humans. Indeed, what is called "expert 
systems ", are widely used in many fields. If the interaction is rational,  
that is: formally equivalent to a logical discussion modi Wittgenstein, the 
difference in: "who arrived at this answer, machinery or a human", becomes 

  Artistry, intuition, creativity are presently seen as not possible to 
translate into Wittgenstein sentences. Maybe the inner instincts are not yet 
well understood. But!: there are some who are busily undermining the current 
fundamentals of rational thinking. So there is hope that we shall live to 
experience the ultimate disillusionment,  namely that humans are a 
combinatorial tautology. 

  Accordingly, may I respectfully express opposing views to what you state: 
that machines and humans are of incompatible builds. There are hints that as 
far as rational capabilities go, the same principles apply. There is a rest, 
you say, which is not of this kind. The counter argument says that irrational 
processes do not take place in organisms, therefore what you refer to belongs 
to the main process, maybe like waste belongs to the organism's principle. This 
view draws a picture of a functional biotope, in which the waste of one kind of 
organism is raw material for a different kind. 


  <> schrieb am Do., 10. Mai 2018 15:24:

    Dear Bruno, 
    You state: 
    "IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive science,
    THEN “physical” has to be defined entirely in arithmetical term, i.e. 
“physical” becomes a mathematical notion.
    ...Indexical digital mechanism is the hypothesis that there is a level of 
description of the brain/body such that I would survive, or “not feel any 
change” if my brain/body is replaced by a digital machine emulating the 
brain/body at that level of description".

    The problem of your account is the following:
    You say "IF" and "indexical digital mechanism is the HYPOTHESIS".
    Therefore, you are talking of an HYPOTHESIS: it is not empirically tested 
and it is not empirically testable.  You are starting with a sort of postulate: 
I, and other people, do not agree with it.  The current neuroscience does not 
state that our brain/body is (or can be replaced by) a digital machine.
    In other words, your "IF" stands for something that possibly does not exist 
in our real world.  Here your entire building falls down.  

    Inviato da Libero Mail per Android

    giovedì, 10 maggio 2018, 02:46PM +02:00 da Bruno Marchal

      (This mail has been sent previously , but without success. I resend it, 
with minor changes). Problems due to different accounts. It was my first 
comment to Mark Burgin new thread “Is information physical?”.

      Dear Mark, Dear Colleagues, 

      Apology for not answering the mails in the chronological orders, as my 
new computer classifies them in some mysterious way!
      This is my first post of the week. I might answer comment, if any, at the 
end of the week.

        On 25 Apr 2018, at 03:47, Burgin, Mark <> wrote:

        Dear Colleagues,

        I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion

                                              Is information physical?

      That is an important topic indeed, very close to what I am working on. 

      My result here is that 

      IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive science, 

      THEN  “physical” has to be defined entirely in arithmetical term, i.e. 
“physical” becomes a mathematical notion.

      The proof is constructive. It shows exactly how to derive physics from 
Arithmetic (the reality, not the theory. I use “reality” instead of “model" 
(logician’s term, because physicists use “model" for “theory").

      Indexical digital mechanism is the hypothesis that there is a level of 
description of the brain/body such that I would survive, or “not feel any 
change” if my brain/body is replaced by a digital machine emulating the 
brain/body at that level of description.

      Not only information is not physical, but matter, time, space, and all 
physical objects become part of the universal machine phenomenology. Physics is 
reduced to arithmetic, or, equivalently, to any Turing-complete machinery. 
Amazingly Arithmetic (even the tiny semi-computable part of arithmetic) is 
Turing complete (Turing Universal).

      The basic idea is that:

      1) no universal machine can distinguish if she is executed by an 
arithmetical reality or by a physical reality. And,

      2) all universal machines are executed in arithmetic, and they are 
necessarily undetermined on the set of of all its continuations emulated in 

      That reduces physics to a statistics on all computations relative to my 
actual state, and see from some first person points of view (something I can 
describe more precisely in some future post perhaps).

      Put in that way, the proof is not constructive, as, if we are machine, we 
cannot know which machine we are. But Gödel’s incompleteness can be used to 
recover this constructively for a simpler machine than us, like Peano 
arithmetic. This way of proceeding enforces the distinction between first and 
third person views (and six others!).

      I have derived already many feature of quantum mechanics from this 
(including the possibility of quantum computer) a long time ago.  I was about 
sure this would refute Mechanism, until I learned about quantum mechanics, 
which verifies all the most startling predictions of Indexical Mechanism, 
unless we add the controversial wave collapse reduction principle.

      The curious “many-worlds” becomes the obvious (in arithmetic) many 
computations (up to some equivalence quotient). The weird indeterminacy becomes 
the simpler amoeba like duplication. The non-cloning of matter becomes obvious: 
as any piece of matter is the result of the first person indeterminacy (the 
first person view of the amoeba undergoing a duplication, …) on infinitely many 
computations. This entails also that neither matter appearance nor 
consciousness are Turing emulable per se, as the whole arithmetical 
reality—which is a highly non computable notion as we know since Gödel—plays a 
key role. Note this makes Digital Physics leaning to inconsistency, as it 
implies indexical computationalism which implies the negation of Digital 
Physics (unless my “body” is the entire physical universe, which I rather 

        My opinion is presented below:

           Why some people erroneously think that information is physical
           The main reason to think that information is physical is the strong 
belief of many people, especially, scientists that there is only physical 
reality, which is studied by science. At the same time, people encounter 
something that they call information.
           When people receive a letter, they comprehend that it is information 
because with the letter they receive information. The letter is physical, i.e., 
a physical object. As a result, people start thinking that information is 
physical. When people receive an e-mail, they comprehend that it is information 
because with the e-mail they receive information. The e-mail comes to the 
computer in the form of electromagnetic waves, which are physical. As a result, 
people start thinking even more that information is physical.
           However, letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical 
objects are only carriers or containers of information.
           To understand this better, let us consider a textbook. Is possible 
to say that this book is knowledge? Any reasonable person will tell that the 
textbook contains knowledge but is not knowledge itself. In the same way, the 
textbook contains information but is not information itself. The same is true 
for letters, e-mails, electromagnetic waves and other physical objects because 
all of them only contain information but are not information. For instance, as 
we know, different letters can contain the same information. Even if we make an 
identical copy of a letter or any other text, then the letter and its copy will 
be different physical objects (physical things) but they will contain the same 
           Information belongs to a different (non-physical) world of 
knowledge, data and similar essences. In spite of this, information can act on 
physical objects (physical bodies) and this action also misleads people who 
think that information is physical.

      OK. The reason is that we can hardly imagine how immaterial or non 
physical objects can alter the physical realm. It is the usual problem faced by 
dualist ontologies. With Indexical computationalism we recover many dualities, 
but they belong to the phenomenologies.

           One more misleading property of information is that people can 
measure it. This brings an erroneous assumption that it is possible to measure 
only physical essences. Naturally, this brings people to the erroneous 
conclusion that information is physical. However, measuring information is 
essentially different than measuring physical quantities, i.e., weight. There 
are no “scales” that measure information. Only human intellect can do this.

      OK. I think all intellect can do that, not just he human one.

      Now, the reason why people believe in the physical is always a form of 
the “knocking table” argument. They knocks on the table and say “you will not 
tell me that this table is unreal”.

      I have got so many people giving me that argument, that I have made 
dreams in which I made that argument, or even where I was convinced by that 
argument … until I wake up.

      When we do metaphysics with the scientific method, this “dream argument” 
illustrates that seeing, measuring, … cannot prove anything ontological. A 
subjective experience proves only the phenomenological existence of 
consciousness, and nothing more. It shows that although there are plenty of 
strong evidences for a material reality, there are no evidences (yet) for a 
primitive or primary matter (and that is why, I think, Aristotle assumes it 
quasi explicitly, against Plato, and plausibly against Pythagorus).

      Mechanism forces a coming back to Plato, where the worlds of ideas is the 
world of programs, or information, or even just numbers, since very elementary 
arithmetic (PA without induction, + the predecessor axiom) is already Turing 
complete (it contains what I have named a Universal Dovetailer: a program which 
generates *and* executes all programs).

      So I agree with you: information is not physical. I claim that if we 
assume Mechanism (Indexical computationalism) matter itself is also not 
*primarily* physical: it is all in the “head of the universal machine/number” 
(so to speak).

      And this provides a test for primary matter: it is enough to find if 
there is a discrepancy between the physics that we infer from the observation, 
and the physics that we extract from “the head” of the machine. This took me 
more than 30 years of work, but the results obtained up to now is that there is 
no discrepancies. I have compared the quantum logic imposed by incompleteness 
(formally) on the semi-computable (partial recursive, sigma_1) propositions, 
with most quantum logics given by physicists, and it fits rather well.

      Best regards,

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