### Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

```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
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?

```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?

```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

--

4 Austin Dr. Prior Park St. James, Barbados BB23004
Tel:   246-421-8855
Cell:  246-243-5938
___
Fis mailing list
Fis@listas.unizar.es
http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis

```

### Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

```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?

```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)
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?

```
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
Bolton, BL3 5AB

Office: M106

SKYPE: daigriffiths

Phones (please don't leave voice mail)
UK Mobile +44 (0)7491151559
Spanish Mobile: + 34 687955912
Work landline: + 44 (0)1204903598

email
d.e.griffi...@bolton.ac.uk
dai.griffith...@gmail.com

___
Fis mailing list
Fis@listas.unizar.es
http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis

```

### Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

```
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

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?

```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
-
Libre de virus. www.avast.com

___
Fis mailing list
Fis@listas.unizar.es
http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis

```

### Re: [Fis] Information is physical

```
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.

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?

```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?

```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 ```