Dear Loet,
Only one remark. There is no Shannon-type information but there is Shannon's measure of information, which is called entropy.


On 5/23/2018 10:44 PM, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:
Dear Mark, Soren, and colleagues,

The easiest distinction is perhaps Descartes' one between/res cogitans/ and/res extensa/ as two different realities. Our knowledge in each case that things could have been different is not out there in the world as something seizable such as piece of wood.

Similarly, uncertainty in the case of a distribution is not seizable, but it can be expressed in bits of information (as one measure among others). The grandiose step of Shannon was, in my opinion, to enable us to operationalize Descartes'/cogitans/ and make it amenable to the measurement as information.

Shannon-type information is dimensionless. It is provided with meaning by a system of reference (e.g., an observer or a discourse). Some of us prefer to call only thus-meaningful information real information because it is embedded. One can also distinguish it from Shannon-type information as Bateson-type information. The latter can be debated as physical.

In the ideal case of an elastic collision of "billard balls", the physical entropy (S= kB * H) goes to zero. However, if two particles have a distribution of momenta of 3:7 before a head-on collision, this distribution will change in the ideal case into 7:3. Consequently, the probabilistic entropy is .7 log2 (.7/.3) + .3 log2 (.3/.7) = .86 – .37 = .49 bits of information. One thus can prove that this information is not physical.



Loet Leydesdorff

Professor emeritus, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) <>; Associate Faculty, SPRU, <>University of Sussex;

Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. <>, Hangzhou; Visiting Professor, ISTIC, <>Beijing;

Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck <>, University of London;

------ Original Message ------
From: "Burgin, Mark" < <>> To: "Søren Brier" < <>>; "Krassimir Markov" < <>>; "" < <>>
Sent: 5/24/2018 4:23:53 AM
Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Søren,
You response perfectly supports my analysis. Indeed, for you only the Physical World is real. So, information has to by physical if it is real, or it cannot be real if it is not physical. Acceptance of a more advanced model of the World, which includes other realities, as it was demonstrated in my book “Structural Reality,” allows understand information as real but not physical.


On 5/17/2018 3:29 AM, Søren Brier wrote:

Dear Mark

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 <> *På vegne af *Krassimir Markov
*Sendt:* 17. maj 2018 11:33
*Til:*; Burgin, Mark <>
*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”!

Friendly greetings


*From:*Burgin, Mark <>

*Sent:*Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:20 AM

*To:* <>

*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
*Is 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

    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.


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

        Dear Bruno,
        You state:
        "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 description".

        The problem of your account is the following:
        You say "IF" and "indexical digital mechanism is the
        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 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

                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

                   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

            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,


            Fis mailing list

        Fis mailing list <>


    Fis mailing list <>


Fis mailing list <>

Fis mailing list

Reply via email to