Using ’physical’ this way it just tends to mean ’real’, but that
raises the problem of how to define real. Is chance real? I Gödel’s
theorem or mathematics and logic in general (the world of form)? Is
subjectivity and self-awareness, qualia? I do believe you are a
conscious subject with feelings, but I cannot feel it, see it, measure
it. Is it physical then?? I only see what you write and your behavior.
And are the meaning of your sentences physical? So here we touch
phenomenology (the experiential) and hermeneutics (meaning and
interpretation) and more generally semiotics (the meaning of signs in
cognition and communication). We have problems encompassing these
aspects in the natural, the quantitative and the technical sciences
that makes up the foundation of most conceptions of information science.
*Fra:*Fis <fis-boun...@listas.unizar.es> *På vegne af *Krassimir Markov
*Sendt:* 17. maj 2018 11:33
*Til:* email@example.com; Burgin, Mark <mbur...@math.ucla.edu>
*Emne:* Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis
Dear Mark and FIS Colleagues,
First of all. I support the idea of Mark to write a paper and to
publish it in IJ ITA.
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”!
*From:*Burgin, Mark <mailto:mbur...@math.ucla.edu>
*Sent:*Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:20 AM
*Subject:*Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis
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
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
*Is information physical?*
and publish it in his esteemed Journal.
On 5/11/2018 3:20 AM, Karl Javorszky wrote:
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
(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
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 irrelevant.
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
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
<tozziart...@libero.it <mailto:tozziart...@libero.it>> schrieb am
Do., 10. Mai 2018 15:24:
"IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive
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
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
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
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
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
My result here is that
*_IF_*indexical digital mechanism is correct in the
*_THEN_* “physical” has to be defined entirely in
arithmetical term, i.e. “physical” becomes a mathematical
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
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 arithmetic.
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
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
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 doubt).
My opinion is presented below:
Why some people erroneously think that information
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
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
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
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
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