Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Ulanowicz, Robert
Dear Mark,

I share your inclination, albeit from a different perspective.

Consider the two statements:

1. Information is impossible without a physical carrier.

2. Information is impossible without the influence of that which does not exist.

There is significant truth in both statements.

I know that Claude Shannon is not a popular personality on FIS, but I
admire how he first approached the subject. He began by quantifying,
not information in the intuitive, positivist  sense, but rather the
*lack* of information, or "uncertainty", as he put it. Positivist
information thereby becomes a double negative -- any decrease in
uncertainty.

In short, the quantification of information begins by quantifying
something that does not exist, but nonetheless is related to that
which does. Terry calls this lack the "absential", I call it the
"apophatic" and it is a major player in living systems!

Karl Popper finished his last book with the exhortation that we need
to develop a "calculus of conditional probabilities". Well, that
effort was already underway in information theory. Using conditional
probabilities allows one to parse Shannon's formula for diversity into
two terms -- on being positivist information (average mutual
information) and the other apophasis (conditional entropy).


This duality in nature is evident but often unnoticed in the study of
networks. Most look at networks and immediately see the constraints
between nodes. And so it is. But there is also indeterminacy in almost
all real networks, and this often is disregarded. The proportions
between constraint and indeterminacy can readily be calculated.

What is important in living systems (and I usually think of the more
indeterminate ecosystems, rather than organisms [but the point applies
there as well]) is that some degree of conditional entropy is
absolutely necessary for systems sustainability, as it provides the
flexibility required to construct new responses to novel challenges.

While system constraint usually abets system performance, systems that
become too efficient do so by decreasing their (mutually exclusive)
flexibility and become progressively vulnerable to collapse.

The lesson for evolutionary theory is clear. Survival is not always a
min/max (fitt*est*) issue. It is about a balance between adaptation
and adaptability. Ecosystems do not attain maximum efficiency. To do
so would doom them.
 The balance also
puts the lie to a major maxim of economics, which is that nothing
should hinder the efficiency of the market. That's a recipe for "boom
and bust". 

Mark, I do disagree with your opinion that information cannot be
measured. The wider application of information theory extends beyond
communication and covers the information inherent in structure, or
what John Collier calls "enformation". Measurement is extremely
important there. Perhaps you are disquieted by the relative nature of
information measurements. Such relativity is inevitable. Information
can only be measured with respect to some (arbitrary) reference
distribution (which is also known in the wider realm of thermodynamics
as "the third law".)

Remember how Bateson pointed to the overwhelmingly positivist nature
of physics. Classical physics is deficient in its lack of recognition
of the apophatic. Information theory cures that.

Yes, information requires a material carrier. It also is intimately
affected by and requires nonmaterial apophasis.

Best wishes,
Bob

On 4/24/18, Burgin, Mark  wrote:
> Dear Colleagues,
>
> I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
>
>Is information physical?
>
> 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 

Re: [Fis] Is information physical? OR Does the information exist without the carrier?

2018-04-25 Thread Louis H Kauffman
Dear Krassimir and Mark,
Let us not forget the intermediate question:
How is information independent of the choice of carrier?
This is the fruitful question in my opinion, and it avoids the problem of 
assigning existence to that which is relational.

The same problem exists for numbers and other mathematical entities. Does the 
number 2 exist without any couples?
The mathematical answer is to construct a standard couple (e.g. { { }, {{}} } 
in set theory or two marks || in formalism) and say that 
a collection has cardinality two if it can be placed in 1-1 correspondence with 
the standard couple. In this way of speaking we do not have to 
assign an existence to two as a noun. The Russelian alternative  — to take two 
to be the collection of all couples — is a fascinating intellectual move, but
I prefer to avoid it by not having to speak of the existence of two in such a 
way. Two is a concept and it is outside of formal systems and outside of the 
physical
except in that we who have that concept are linked with formalism and linked 
with the apparent physical.

And let us not forget the other question.
What is "the physical”?
What we take to be physical arises as a relation between our sensing (and 
generalized sensing) and our ability to form concepts.
To imagine that the “physical” exists independent of that relation is an extra 
assumption that is not necessary for scientific work, however
attractive or repelling it may seem.
Best,
Lou Kauffman
P.S. With this letter, I reach my quota for the week and will remain silent 
until next Monday.
If anyone wants a private email conversation, I shall be happy to carry on in 
that fashion.


> On Apr 25, 2018, at 2:20 AM, Krassimir Markov  wrote:
> 
> Dear Mark and Colleagues,
> 
>  
> Very nice “simple question”:  “Is information physical?”
> 
> I agree that “letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical 
> objects are only carriers of information”.
> 
> The brain is carrier of information, too. 
> 
>  
> Now, I think, what we need to clear is another “simple question” closely 
> interrelated to yours:
> 
>  
> Does the information exist without the carrier?
> 
>  
> In other words, can the color, speed, weigh, temperature, time, etc., exist 
> without objects which these characteristics belong to and may be measured by 
> other objects. 
> 
> To understand more clearly, let see the case of “time”.
> 
> Does the time really exist?
> 
> Does the time exist without real regular processes which we may reflect and 
> compare?
> 
> The time is falling drops of water, the movement of the pendulum, etc.
> 
> One may say, the time is information about all these processes.
> 
> OK! But, if these processes do not exist, will we have “time”?
> 
>  
> I think, we have a question in two interrelated explanations: 
> 
> - Is information physical?
> 
> - Does the information exist without the carrier?
> 
>  
> Friendly greetings
> 
> Krassimir
> 
>
> From: Burgin, Mark 
> the movement of the pendulum
> 
> falling drops of water
> 
> Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 4:47 AM
> To: fis@listas.unizar.es 
> Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical?
>  
> Dear Colleagues,
> I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
>   Is information physical?
> 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 

[Fis] Is Information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Dick Stoute
Mark Burgin has proposed an interesting topic. Here is how I think of it.

We need to know the characteristics of an instrument if we are to correctly
interpret its output.

In this case our perceptual system is the instrument and information is the
output.  The science of perception indicates that our perceptual system is
capable of creating forms that represent our environment, but it is not
capable of direct perception.   According to the neuroscience model, when
we look at a tree we become conscious of the form "tree" created by our
brain that represents the physical (Kant's noumenal) tree.  This makes our
conscious world a world of forms and we in-form ourselves when we look at
(perceive) our environment.

Forms include some aspects of what they represent (often the shape) - but
exclude other aspects. We can therefore think of forms as
abstractions.  Because we only become conscious of  forms, we get the
impression that these forms are non-physical and likewise we surmise that
information is also non physical.  However, as we can assume that the forms
we become conscious of have a material substrate that is not represented in
what appears in consciousness, we can model this as if there is a physical
component to a form that is not apparent in the conscious form.  Just as we
can use pebbles to create a form on a beach and then ignore the pebbles,
our can brain uses some material component (possibly a field) to create the
form we become conscious of. without us becoming conscious of the substrate.

To test this model we can see how well it deals with the famous mind/body
interaction problem. We can think of a living active brain as being made up
of the "meat" and the electrochemical  activity and the fields these
generate etc.  If we abstract away the activity, we are left with the meat,
but if we abstract away the meat we are left with the activity.  We can
call one brain and the other mind, and treat them as if they were different
abstractions of the same entity. If we do this the interaction problem
disappears and we are no longer tempted to accept that this duality is
something that exists outside of consciousness.  We create the mind/brain
model because it  is useful for analysis, but it is not a good
representation of the living brain, which is an integral unit.

Similarly we create an information/matter duality that is useful for many
purposes, but we must recognise that each component of this duality is an
abstraction of an integrated substrate. On this approach, we confuse
ourselves when we create a duality and then impose it on what it represents.

Sincerely,

Dick Stoute







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4 Austin Dr. Prior Park St. James, Barbados BB23004
Tel:   246-421-8855
Cell:  246-243-5938
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Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Karl Javorszky
The question „Is information physical?” relates to the equivalence between
two mental/emotional contents of the brain, and can be compared to “Is A =
B ?” at first sight. In the form the question is posed, it is rendered in a
more empathic fashion in the form “Does A contain a sufficiently large
proportion of properties of B so that one may reasonably say that A is
either a subset of B or is identical with B or does A include B ?”.

That, what “physical” refers to, may be understood to be beyond individual
interpretations. Logical sentences can be constructed about observations of
the world, and agreements can be achieved about what these sentences
denote. Society has created a cultural construct, like the value π, what
the term “physical” means. The concept is detached from the varieties of
individual connotations and emotional associative links, memory embeddings
and personal involvements while having learnt to de-personalise the concept
from its individual connections within the person’s brain.

The “information” part of the equivalence to be investigated can be varied
along the connotations of “information”. One generates sentences like “Is
the background physical?”, “Is the otherwise physical?”, “Is one specific
of the remaining alternatives physical?”, “Is the increase in my knowledge
physical?”, “Is the surprise I experience physical?”, “Is the contrast
physical?”

Maybe a first step towards a satisfying answer to the question of the
equivalence of information with effects, phenomena, ideas that are within
the domain of Physics, would be to arrive at a cultural understanding of
what the term means.

Presently, in normal conversational context, “information” is equivalent to
“is news for me”. If one receives a message that contains data that are
already known, the information content of that message is Zero. This moment
links the content’s information value to the learning history of
individuals. (If one has never learnt that a cold, low quality, drinking
glass will splitter if poured hot water into, this experience will inform
him on the subject.) The individual variety of the extent/amount/diversity
of information makes that term – as used in colloquial speech – not suited
for usage in a logical discourse.

If we speak in logical style, then the information domain refers to the
collection of alternatives to that what is the case, and the content of the
information is a selection criterion for some of the alternatives. Whether
the background as such or specific elements from among the elements of the
background are physical or not, is a matter for gourmets to chew on. If *v=d/t
*is physical, so be it.


2018-04-25 14:39 GMT+02:00 Jose Javier Blanco Rivero 
:

> Dear all,
>
> Following the ideas of Mark, Lou,   Krassimir and Arturo, I think it is
> worth to insist on a proposal I made in this forum a few months ago. That
> is, the thesis of a general theory of communication media.
> (Before going on I would like to remark that the concepts used here do not
> designate essences but functions, they are thought as answers to
> how-questions and not to what-questions)
> Instead of talking about carriers or substrates of information, we should
> be talking about communication media. Because, as Krassimir remarked,
> information can only become information in the context of a medium
> -material or not.
> As a medium can operate any redundant pattern and/or self organized
> process. Being information the result of or distinctions traced by this
> self driven process in an effort to  fix its own structures according to
> the constraints set by its environment and by its own actual possibilities
> of actualizing determined states of itself. Talking about communication
> would make sense as long as there are information processing, therefore
> redundance, and selection of information. It also makes sense as long as
> way to describe the evolution of the behavior of systems that interact
> somehow becoming interdependent to some degree.  As Arturo points out,
> anthropocentrism -and I would add: a persistent philosophy of
> consciousness- is rather an obstacle. Any selfrerential  and selforganized
> system can draw distinctions, process information and communicate. But we
> should take care to distinguish the very medium that make that system
> possible (which can be the domain of the physical, that is, the domain of
> existence of the observable and mensurable) and the media that function
> more or less regularly to the purpose of communication.
> I remember I also criticized the idea of information transmission.
> Information  is not transmitted. Regular patterns are instrumentalized to
> codify a symbolic system. When this occurs a technical medium of
> communication has been developed.
> I know there would be many flaws other general setting of this proposal,
> but I also think it is a thought worth to be followed  and perfectioned.
> This would not lead astray of information 

Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Jose Javier Blanco Rivero
Dear all,

Following the ideas of Mark, Lou,   Krassimir and Arturo, I think it is
worth to insist on a proposal I made in this forum a few months ago. That
is, the thesis of a general theory of communication media.
(Before going on I would like to remark that the concepts used here do not
designate essences but functions, they are thought as answers to
how-questions and not to what-questions)
Instead of talking about carriers or substrates of information, we should
be talking about communication media. Because, as Krassimir remarked,
information can only become information in the context of a medium
-material or not.
As a medium can operate any redundant pattern and/or self organized
process. Being information the result of or distinctions traced by this
self driven process in an effort to  fix its own structures according to
the constraints set by its environment and by its own actual possibilities
of actualizing determined states of itself. Talking about communication
would make sense as long as there are information processing, therefore
redundance, and selection of information. It also makes sense as long as
way to describe the evolution of the behavior of systems that interact
somehow becoming interdependent to some degree.  As Arturo points out,
anthropocentrism -and I would add: a persistent philosophy of
consciousness- is rather an obstacle. Any selfrerential  and selforganized
system can draw distinctions, process information and communicate. But we
should take care to distinguish the very medium that make that system
possible (which can be the domain of the physical, that is, the domain of
existence of the observable and mensurable) and the media that function
more or less regularly to the purpose of communication.
I remember I also criticized the idea of information transmission.
Information  is not transmitted. Regular patterns are instrumentalized to
codify a symbolic system. When this occurs a technical medium of
communication has been developed.
I know there would be many flaws other general setting of this proposal,
but I also think it is a thought worth to be followed  and perfectioned.
This would not lead astray of information science. On the contrary, it lays
inside its very spirit. Elemental units such as information are related to
wider contexts such as communication. It is up to theory to put together
that unity.

Best,
El abr 24, 2018 10:49 PM, "Burgin, Mark"  escribió:

> Dear Colleagues,
>
> I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
>
>   Is information physical?
>
> 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.
>
>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 

Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Dai Griffiths

Thanks everyone, all very stimulating!

On 25/04/18 03:47, Burgin, Mark wrote:
Any reasonable person will tell that the textbook contains knowledge 
This is a metaphor. It is helpful in managing the complex relationships 
of humans with media, but will lead us into tangles if we believe that 
it is anything more.



Mark Johnson, thinking about music followed up with a pertinent question

What is the relation of the score to what occurs?


I'd say that both the book and the score are most usefully seen not as 
the transfer of information, but as coordination in relation to an artifact.



Arturo warned against anthropomorphism, and said
I start to sweat. ... my body (without the need of my mind!) extracts 
a termic information from its surrounding environment 
As Lou says, "Information in the sense that you indicate is pattern that 
is independent of the particular substrate on which it is ‘carried’."  I 
sweat because of the interaction between my body and its environment, 
through of a cascade of cellular interactions, mediated by chemical 
processes. We can describe these chemical processes as patterns, and 
from those descriptions learn something about physiology. But that does 
not mean that the processes themselves are composed of pattern or of 
information.


To my mind 'extraction' of information is a metaphor (and from Lakoff's 
perspective it is therefore anthropomorphic). Does the body send out 
emissaries to mine the information? Of course Arturo does not believe 
that, and I'm not trying to score cheap points here. I just want to 
point out that language is not a neutral tool when we are discussing 
information. Lou's "in the sense that you indicate" correctly alerts us 
to the fact that there is more than one meaning to the word 
'information', and implies a warning that we will talk past each other 
unless we are willing to clarify the distinctions we are making when we 
use the word. There is a long and valuable intellectual tradition that 
uses the word information in terms of entropy, but that is not the only 
way that the word is used.


Best
Dai

--
-

Professor David (Dai) Griffiths
Professor of Education
School of Education and Psychology
The University of Bolton
Deane Road
Bolton, BL3 5AB

Office: M106

SKYPE: daigriffiths

Phones (please don't leave voice mail)
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Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Gyorgy Darvas

Hi all,

Information is information.
There is no reason to bundle it under any other genus.

There are physical information! (Cf., my paper at the Vienna conference, 
2015.)

... And there are other (non-physical) information.

Other approach:
Information follows, in certain aspects, some laws of physics, and it 
avoids to do so in other instances.
Even following a law of physics doesn't allow to identify the object (in 
our case: information) with physics.


Similar to a well discussed other example: information can be 
characterised by similar mathematics to that of entropy, while this 
similitude does not mean that information as such is entropy.


Good luck,
Gyuri


On 2018.04.25. 6:52, Louis H Kauffman wrote:

Dear Mark,
Thank you for suggesting this topic.
I concur wholeheartedly with your stand on this matter.
Information in the sense that you indicate
is pattern that is independent of the particular substrate on which it 
is ‘carried’.


There is a persistent myth in popular scientific culture that 
mathematics and the physical are identical.

Just as information is not physical, neither is mathematics.
Each mathematical structure is recognizable as mathematics in that it 
is strictly relational and quite independent of the medium in which it 
is expressed.


The example of mathematics as information independent of substrate
is an opening for exploring more deeply the nature of information. For 
we are all aware
of the remarkable interplay of mathematics and the quantitative and 
structural understanding of the physical.


I suspect that the end result of that exploration will be for us to 
admit that

we do not know know what is physical,
that we can deny that information is not physical.

The crux of the matter (sic)
lies in the distinction made between the physical and the non-physical.
There is such a distinction.
The boundary of that distinction is unknown territory.
Very best,
Lou Kauffman


On Apr 24, 2018, at 8:47 PM, Burgin, Mark > wrote:


Dear Colleagues,

I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion

Is information physical?

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.
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.
It is possible to find more explanations that information is not 
physical in the general theory of information.


Sincerely,
Mark Burgin


On 4/24/2018 10:46 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote:

Dear FIS Colleagues,

A very interesting discussion theme has been proposed by Mark Burgin 
--he will post at his early convenience.
Thanks are due to Alberto for his "dataism" piece. Quite probably we 
will need to revisit that theme, as it 

[Fis] Is information physical? OR Does the information exist without the carrier?

2018-04-25 Thread Krassimir Markov
Dear Mark and Colleagues,



Very nice “simple question”:  “Is information physical?”

I agree that “letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical objects 
are only carriers of information”.

The brain is carrier of information, too. 



Now, I think, what we need to clear is another “simple question” closely 
interrelated to yours:



Does the information exist without the carrier?



In other words, can the color, speed, weigh, temperature, time, etc., exist 
without objects which these characteristics belong to and may be measured by 
other objects. 

To understand more clearly, let see the case of “time”.

Does the time really exist?

Does the time exist without real regular processes which we may reflect and 
compare?

The time is falling drops of water, the movement of the pendulum, etc.

One may say, the time is information about all these processes.

OK! But, if these processes do not exist, will we have “time”?



I think, we have a question in two interrelated explanations: 

- Is information physical?

- Does the information exist without the carrier?



Friendly greetings

Krassimir

From: Burgin, Mark 
the movement of the pendulum

falling drops of water

Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 4:47 AM
To: fis@listas.unizar.es 
Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion

  Is information physical?


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.

   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.

   It is possible to find more explanations that information is not physical in 
the general theory of information. 

Sincerely,
Mark Burgin



On 4/24/2018 10:46 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote:

  Dear FIS Colleagues,

  A very interesting discussion theme has been proposed by Mark Burgin --he 
will post at his early convenience. 
  Thanks are due to Alberto for his "dataism" piece. Quite probably we will 
need to revisit that theme, as it is gaining increasing momentum in present 
"information societies", in science as well as in everyday life...
  Thanks also to Sung for his interesting viewpoint and references.

  Best wishes to all,
  --Pedro 


 
-
Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es
http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
- 
   Libre de virus. www.avast.com  


   

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Re: [Fis] Information is physical

2018-04-25 Thread tozziarturo

Dear FISers, 

information is a measurable physical quantity.  

Indeed, it has been claimed that the physical world is made up of information 
itself (Bekenstein 2003), so that our Universe is assessable in pure terms of 
information. The idea that information is the fundamental physical quantity 
dates back to F.W. Kantor (1977).  

In our Universe, information cannot be created or destroyed. The conservation 
of information is derived from quantum field theory, via the quantum Liouville 
theorem (Zeidler 2011).

Therefore, information is here, in the Universe, and its total amount never 
changes (exactly like the amount if energy/matter).  It is like a huge Big Data 
that awaits to be extracted by something or somebody.  Indeed, chunks of such 
information can be extracted, and not just by the human mind, as somebody 
mistakenly says.

To make an example:  it's summer.  My body perceives, through its receptors, 
that it's very hot, and, in order to compensate, I start to sweat.  In this 
case, my body (without the need of my mind!) extracts a termic information from 
its surrounding environment and provides a physiological homeostatic response.  

That's all, folks.  Forget the anthropocentric importance that you give to your 
mind: it's just one of the countless tools able to extract part of the 
available cosmic information.  



NOTE FOR TECHNICAL READERS: 

Here follows the mathematical description of what I said above. 

In thermodynamics, information I can be defined as the negation of 
thermodynamic entropy S (Beck, 2009):

I = -S

Therefore, a bit of thermodynamic entropy stands for the distinction between 
two alternative states in a physical system.

The total entropy embedded inside a system can be quantified through the 
Bekenstein bound. The Bekenstein bound is an upper limit on the thermodynamic 
entropy S (or the information I, according to Shannon (1948)) endowed in a 
space region equipped with a given amount of energy. In other words, the 
Bekenstein bound stands for the maximum quantity of information required to 
describe a physical system down to the quantum level. The universal form of the 
bound can be described as follows (Bekenstein 1973; Bekenstein 1974):

Ssys = ζ

Where Ssys is the cosmic thermodynamic entropy detectable by the observer, A is 
the area of the system, E is the Energy including matter (the total mass-energy 
of the Universe consists of about 1069 Joule), ħ is the reduced Planck 
constant, c is the speed of light, k is the Boltzmann constant, ζ is a factor 
such that 0< ζ<1.

Setting ζ to one in case of the total Ssys, we are allowed to quantify the 
thermodynamic information, by partitioning the factor into a relative 
information component (ζI = 1- ζS) and a relative entropy (ζS = 1- ζI) (Street 
2016):

Isys = ζI = (1- ζS)

In case of loss of information from a system, the bits available for the 
observer decrease. This means that information exits from the system, according 
to the formula:

ΔIsys = = Δ ζS

Where T is the temperature. 






> Il 25 aprile 2018 alle 3.47 "Burgin, Mark"  ha scritto:
> 
> 
> Dear Colleagues,
> 
> I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
> 
>   Is information physical?
> 
> 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 

Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Mark Johnson
Dear Lou and Mark,

Thanks for this - it is very important.

A quick question: why does it have to one or the other? Does the law of the
excluded middle apply to information? Why can't it be both?

As a way of extending this, can I suggest that the boundary between the
physical and the non-physical is between constraint A and constraint B?
It's likely that my boundary between A and B is not the same as your
boundary. My transduction process which maintains my boundary is not the
same as your transduction process. But it may well be that our transduction
processes are intertwined - like when we talk about it and try to agree
what "information" is.

As for knowledge in a textbook, the function of objects in the process of
teaching (what's that?) is certainly not as simple as the mere appearance
of textbooks would suggest: a textbook isn't a "knowledge pill". There are
related questions: what does a conductor do to an orchestra? What is the
relation of the score to what occurs? Where is the performance?

Best wishes,

Mark





On 25 April 2018 at 05:52, Louis H Kauffman  wrote:

> Dear Mark,
> Thank you for suggesting this topic.
> I concur wholeheartedly with your stand on this matter.
> Information in the sense that you indicate
> is pattern that is independent of the particular substrate on which it is
> ‘carried’.
>
> There is a persistent myth in popular scientific culture that mathematics
> and the physical are identical.
> Just as information is not physical, neither is mathematics.
> Each mathematical structure is recognizable as mathematics in that it is
> strictly relational and quite independent of the medium in which it is
> expressed.
>
> The example of mathematics as information independent of substrate
> is an opening for exploring more deeply the nature of information. For we
> are all aware
> of the remarkable interplay of mathematics and the quantitative and
> structural understanding of the physical.
>
> I suspect that the end result of that exploration will be for us to admit
> that
> we do not know know what is physical,
> that we can deny that information is not physical.
>
> The crux of the matter (sic)
> lies in the distinction made between the physical and the non-physical.
> There is such a distinction.
> The boundary of that distinction is unknown territory.
> Very best,
> Lou Kauffman
>
>
> On Apr 24, 2018, at 8:47 PM, Burgin, Mark  wrote:
>
> Dear Colleagues,
>
> I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
>
>   Is information physical?
>
> 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.
>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., 

Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

2018-04-25 Thread Xueshan Yan
Dear Mark,

 

Thank you for expressing your opinion of "Information Is Not Physical" in
concise language. It represents the general view from information science
researchers.

As far as I know, the view of "Information Is Physical?" only appeared in
(natural) science especially in physics. It was first put forward by IBM
physicist Rolf Londouer in 1991. In John Wheeler's writings, though he did
not say so clearly, my feeling is that he generally holds this view.

Thank Louis for using the concept of ‘substrate’ in his post, it is indeed
more academic than ‘carrier’ or ‘container’.

 

Best wishes,

Xueshan

 

P.S.:

1. Rolf Londouer, Information is Physical, in PHYSICS TODAY, May 1991, pp.
23~29.

2. Rolf Londouer, Information is Physical, in Physics and Computation, 1992.
PhysComp '92, pp. 1~4.

3. Rolf Londouer, Information is Physical, in IEEE Computer Society Pr.,
1993. pp. 333~337.

 

From: fis-boun...@listas.unizar.es  On Behalf
Of Louis H Kauffman
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 12:52 PM
To: Burgin, Mark 
Cc: fis@listas.unizar.es
Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

 

Dear Mark,

Thank you for suggesting this topic.

I concur wholeheartedly with your stand on this matter.

Information in the sense that you indicate 

is pattern that is independent of the particular substrate on which it is
‘carried’.

 

There is a persistent myth in popular scientific culture that mathematics
and the physical are identical.

Just as information is not physical, neither is mathematics.

Each mathematical structure is recognizable as mathematics in that it is
strictly relational and quite independent of the medium in which it is
expressed.

 

The example of mathematics as information independent of substrate 

is an opening for exploring more deeply the nature of information. For we
are all aware

of the remarkable interplay of mathematics and the quantitative and
structural understanding of the physical.

 

I suspect that the end result of that exploration will be for us to admit
that 

we do not know know what is physical, 

that we can deny that information is not physical.

 

The crux of the matter (sic)

lies in the distinction made between the physical and the non-physical.

There is such a distinction. 

The boundary of that distinction is unknown territory.

Very best,

Lou Kauffman

 

 

On Apr 24, 2018, at 8:47 PM, Burgin, Mark  > wrote:

 

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion

  Is information physical?

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.

   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