# Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

```Dai,
I start down a road toward attempting to understand information by first
understanding number and form.
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Is a number a thing?
Is 2 a thing?
Cannot say that this 2, this || “is” two. Rather it partakes in being a couple.
2 is relational. We say that there are 2 signs in the word “is" because a
standard couple can be matched to the i and the s.
There is a potential process behind the concept 2.
2 is a concept, but you cannot point to any existent “thing” and say “that is
2”.
You can only say there are 2 of them here, indicating relationship.
So process can also be subordinate to the existence of a something if that
something is a concept.
Numbers exist.
Numbers are concepts.
Numbers are related to processes of matching and comparing.
But numbers are not these processes only.
No thing is so real as the number 2.
Numbers are at the base of what we mean by information.
Do you want the actual couples to somehow allow 2 to emerge in the
proliferation of many many couples?
Russel said: “2 is the collection of all couples.”
Are you convinced that the collection of all possible couples captures the
concept of 2?
I doubt it unless you take collection to be a verb.
There is no escape from sooner or later realizing that 2 exists only in the
mind or in the Mind.
Mind as eigenform never happens except at the limit where self-reference occurs.
I am the observed link between myself and observing myself (HVF).
Lou

> On May 17, 2018, at 6:44 AM, Dai Griffiths <dai.griffith...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> What is a 'thing'?
> Perhaps it is more reasonable to think that  only processes exist, and that
> for human convenience in living in the world we put conceptual membranes
> around some parts of those processes and call them 'things'. From this point
> of view we do not have two aspects (things and predictions about those
> things), but simply the monitoring of processes, and theorising about what we
> find. This does not preclude a taxonomy of processes (e.g. mechanisms might
> be a special kind of process).
> Perhaps our "Is information physical" problem could be usefully reformulated
> as "Is information a thing?".
> Dai
>
>
> On 17/05/18 11:47, Jose Javier Blanco Rivero wrote:
>> Dear FISers,
>>
>> I recently came across an old interview to W. van Orman Quine and I got an
>> idea -maybe  not very original per se. Quine distinguishes two kind of
>> philosophical problems: ontological (those referred to the existence of
>> things) and predicative (what can we say and know about things). Against
>> Quine materialism I came across the idea that ontological problems are
>> undecidable -I think of Turing's Halting problem. The fact is that we cannot
>> leave the predicative realm. All we have as scientists is scientifical
>> statements (therefore I think of Science as a communicative social system
>> differentiated from its environment by means of a code -I think Loet would
>> agree with me in this point). As a system (I mean not the social system, but
>> the set of statements taken as a unity) they all are incomplete. There are
>> many ways to deal with it, as logicians have shown (in this point I confess
>> I would need to examine carefully B. Marchal's ideas. I think I have many
>> points of agreement with him but also of disagreement -but honestly I
>> currently lack the knowledge to undertake a thorough discussion).
>> Self-reference, I think, is one of the most coherent ways to deal with it.
>> But this means we have to learn to deal with paradoxes.
>> Accordingly, as information theorist we would need to identify the
>> constitutive paradox of information and next unfold that paradox in a set of
>> statements that represent what we know about information. The problem is
>> that although we can have the intuition that information is real, physical
>> as has been said, it cannot be proved. An external reference like "reality
>> ", if we look carefully, acts as regulatory function within the system. I
>> remember that in the "Science of the Society", Luhmann devised the concept
>> of consistency proofs (Konsistenzprüfung).But reality as such, the Ding an
>> sich, is inaccessible. In conclusion, Quine would say that we should not be
>>
>> Best,
>>
>> JJ
>>
>> El may 16, 2018 11:24 PM, "Burgin, Mark" <mbur...@math.ucla.edu
>> <mailto:mbur...@math.ucla.edu>> escribió:
>>    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
>>                                                                        Is
>> information physical?
>>    and publish it in his esteemed Journal.
>>
>>    Sincerely,
>>    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
>>> 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 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.
>>>
>>> Karl
>>>
>>> <tozziart...@libero.it <mailto:tozziart...@libero.it>> 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 marc...@ulb.ac.be
>>> <mailto:marc...@ulb.ac.be>:
>>>
>>> (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 <mbur...@math.ucla.edu
>>>> <mailto:mbur...@math.ucla.edu>> 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
>>> 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 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 doubt).
>>>
>>>> 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.
>>>>    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,
>>>
>>> Bruno
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>
> --
> -----------------------------------------
>
> Professor David (Dai) Griffiths
> Professor of Education
> School of Education and Psychology
> The University of Bolton
> Bolton, BL3 5AB
>
> Office: M106
>
> SKYPE: daigriffiths
>
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