Information is more fundamental than

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A diagram of the "information", measured in bits (1s and 0s), is the fundamental "stuff" of the universe model, an ideology championed by: John Wheeler, Seth Lloyd, and Paul Davies, to name a few.

In theories, information is more fundamental than, e.g. force, fields, matter, energy, entropy, or spacetime, etc., is a slogan championed by informationists, that “information”, of the Boolean algebra (Boole, 1847), Maxwell demon (Szilard, 1922), telegraphy (Hartley, 1928), “bits” (Tukey, 1946), information theory (Shannon, 1948), quantum mechanical type, i.e. 1s and 0s, coded into a mathematical language, is the fundamental “stuff” of the universe, more fundamental than either energy, entropy, atoms, matter, or subatomic particles. Noted so-called "information fundamentalists" include: Rolf Landauer (1961), Edward Fredkin (1988), John Wheeler (1989), and his "it from bit" theory, and Seth Lloyd (2006). These attempts, in short, amount to a grand Sokal affair argument for theistic cosmology.

Overview

In 1961, Rolf Landauer, in his ‘Irreversibility and Heat Generation in the Computing Process’ article, proposed that there is an unavoidable cost in entropy whenever one erases information, namely that the entropy of the surroundings must increase by at least per each bit of information erased. In his own words, the ‘measurement process requires a dissipation of the order of .’ Landauer’s derivation, of course, is a haphazard form argument, using the recourse to authority method — he specifically cites ‘Brillouin (1956) and earlier authors’ — in an attempt to argue, in short, that work a single ideal gas molecule does in expanding a piston-and-cylinder to twice its volume is somehow ‘miraculously’ related to the entropy involved in the storage, removal, and or transfer of the state of a binary digit in a vacuum tube and or quantum mechanical energy well of a transistor.[1]

In 1988, Edward Fredkin, a theistic scientist, and computer scientist at Caltect, interested in "reversible computing", was interviewed, by Robert Wright, about his view that information is more fundamental then matter and energy, his views on this being outlined in the book Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information, argued that.[2] The following is a synopsis of Fredkin's views:

“A few scientists, such as Edward Fredkin [1988] of Boston University, believe that the possibility of reversible computation implies that ‘information is more fundamental than matter and energy’, unconstrained by the second law. He envisions a hidden laver beneath what is currently taken as the laws of physics, where the shuffling of bits somehow gives rise to the world we see. The implication, of course, is that reality is some kind of simulation. The question of what is running the simulation or why is left as an exercise for the reader. Fredkin has called for an effort to recast the laws of physics in the form of algorithms for this hypothetical machine, carving up the world in an entirely different manner. But little work has been done in this direction.”
— George Johnson (1996), Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order (pg. 126)

In 1989, John Wheeler, fueled by a NSF grant, about which gave four lectures world-wide attempting to argue the following view:

Every ‘it’, every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself, derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely, even if in some contexts indirectly, from the apparatus-elicited answers to ‘yes-or-no’ questions, binary choices. Bits.”
John Wheeler (1989), “Information, Physics, Quantum: the Search for Links – Can We Ever Expect to Understand Existence?”[3]

This is conceptualized by Wheeler as follows:

It from Bit.png

Here, according to wheeler, "you", a powered 26-element (atom) "thing" (see: CHNOPS+20E), built from protons, neutrons, electrons, and glued together by photons, are derived, presumably, from ones and zeros? Wheeler's entire article, baring prolonged digression, is a grand ontic opening Sokal affair scam, of sorts, done to sell his theologically-coded pet theory that humans are exempt from entropy and thermodynamics, and that god the intelligence or "information" at the beginning of the universe, or something to this effect.

In 2006, Seth Lloyd, in his Programming the Universe, road the "Shannon bandwagon"[4] into the published "objectionable nonsense"[5] territory, par excellence; for example:

“The conventional history of the universe pays great attention to energy: How much is there? Where is it? What is it doing? By contrast, in the story of the universe told in this book, the primary actor in the physical history of the universe is information. Ultimately, information and energy play complementary roles in the universe: Energy makes physical systems do things. Information tells them what to do.”
— Seth Lloyd (2006), Programming the Universe (pgs. 40-41)

In 2010, Paul Davies entered the fray:

Information occupies the ‘ontological basement’ of mother nature.”
— Paul Davies (2010), Information and the Nature of Reality (pg. 82) [6]

Here, to clarify, three of these authors, namely: Wheeler, Lloyd, and Davies, are each metaphysical philosophers, who believe that human movements and existence is a phenomena that is above or subverts the standard laws of the universe. Reading through each of their respective works, one finds that their arguments amount to a mixture of "woo woo physics" (Shermer, 2010), "quantum flapdoodle" (Gell-Mann, 1994)[7], and "objectionable nonsense" (Einstein, 1932)[8], in short; all of which is done in a coded effort to situate "information" at the start of the universe, thereby yielding an ontic opening for the finger of god in physics.[9]

Discussion

In 2013, the FQXI.org community ran an ran an essay contest the question: “It from Bit or Bit from It: Can Physics be Based on Information?”, which drew over 180 entries.[10] In 2015, the top 18 essays, were published by Springer in the book It From Bit or Bit From It?: On Physics and Information.[11] The following is one example from these essays:

“Physicists increasingly accept that information is more fundamental than material things, but if material things are not fundamental, then neither are material causes: we will live in a world without cause? We must thus examine the ‘steps and missteps’ by which information came to be seen as more fundamental and examine the flaws and risks of a purely informational view. It will come as a surprise, accordingly, to most of the general public, and even to most beginning students of physics, that a great many theoretical physicists believe in ‘magic’ and not physical law. Guided by the dogma of quantum theory, many (and perhaps most) physicists accept that in the so-called quantum world, events can happen with no natural cause at all: a particle decays into other particles, particles are detected here versus there, or a spin is resolved as up or down. In the orthodox quantum view, the outcomes in these examples are said to be defined at the instant of measurement as the result of some sort of stochastic process. Unfortunately, though the term ‘stochastic process’ has a pleasantly scientific tone, if there is no natural cause for such events, then we can safely replace this term with ‘supernatural cause’ or "magic" without any change in meaning.”
— Mark Feeley (2015), “Without Cause”; in It From Bit or Bit From It? (§15:169-)

The "information is more fundamental than" motto or "bits are the basis" of reality ideology, according to Feeley, amounts to belief in supernatural magic, in short. This is a pretty good take on the situation. Energy is based on "experiment", particularly the "mechanical theory of heat" experiments of James Joule. Moreover, we presume that these experiments will hold through out the universe. To date there have never been any violations of the results of this experiment.

Information, conversely, is not based on any experiment. Information is simply a language of communication common to two related species. Moreover, information is not a physical thing. A one and a zero are numbers; the two numbers in the binary number system. The numbers 1, 2 , 3 ... 10, likewise are the ten numbers in the decimal system. In both of these systems, the numbers themselves are abstract concepts, like the letters an alphabet. Numbers and letters are not components of the universe. The components of the universe are atoms and void, at atomic level of things, and fermions and bosons at the sub-atomic level view of things.

Things are “real” are things that have been measured and quantified, historically, by the 21-main SI unit geniuses, e.g. force (unit: N), heat (unit: J/K), magnetic flux density (unit: Wb/m²), pressure (unit: N/m²), etc.[12] The "1" and the "0", aka "alternatives" (Shannon, 1945), "binary digits", or "bits" (Tukey, 1946), conversely, are NOT SI units. There is no SI unit for information. The "1" and the "0" are units of mathematics, pure and simple. The "1" and the "0", accordingly, are NOT the fundamental components of the universe. Historically, the assertion that information equates to "entropy", to note his been roundly rebuked by the leading authorities.[13]

Those who attempt to argue this are playing a straight Sokal affair[14], in a disingenuous game of dice. We might even conjecture, many who presently believe the "bit basis" of the universe model, are those who have seen Matrix (1999) a few too many times?

Digital philosophy

Some, to note, classify this “information is the fundamental stuff” model of the universe as “digital philosophy”[15] (or digital cosmology) based on “digital physics”[16]; whose membership includes: Edward Fredkin, Konrad Zuse, Stephen Wolfram, Rudy Rucker, Gregory Chaitin, Seth Lloyd, and Paola Zizzi.

God | 0 or 1

The basics of the Heliopolis creation myth, developed in Heliopolis, Egypt, which was the dominate belief system at the time of the building of the pyramids (2500BC), according to which "Nun" (or "0") existed first, out of which the bennu (or phoenix) (or "1) arose making a noise, that issued forth all of creation.
See main: Bit god

Many of these “digital philosophers” or “cosmological informationists”, commonly, will tend to make recourse to the Greco-Egyptian number theology philosophers, such as Parmenides, who equated the Egyptian Nun with his “unchanging being” philosophy, a type of peculiar monism, which denies the void (or “0”), but defines as else as “being” (or “1), which is unchanging; or Pythagoras, who equated the monad (or “1”) or “nous” (mind of god) with the Nun or origin emptiness or void at the start of creation, which, in modern number theory, we equate with naught or nil (i.e. “0”); this is summarized below:

Egyptian number theory.png

We do note that details of the switch from the Egyptian numbering scheme to the Greek numbering system, as embedded in the Greek alphabet, are not fully clear, e.g. the Greeks, supposedly, did not employ the zero concept, where as the Egyptians did seem to model the Nun or Ogdoad god family has having attributes of emptiness (or "0"), from which the bennu (or phoenix) arose, which can be equated with the first thing (or "1) whose "call" issued forth all of creation, such as expanded upon in the Heliopolis creation myth, pictured adjacent, which numbers the steps of creation, or generation of gods, up through eleven.

For example, while the fragments of Parmenides are wanting, we might conjecture that he had something of the following in mind in respect to his "unchanging being" model of a monistic god, i.e. the Khepri beetle, in the form of the morning sun, born out of the waters of the Nun, which is the Egyptian word for "came into being":

Hence, Parmenides would have likely defined this being as a "1" (or monad), even though the Nun out of which it arose was a a "0"?

Likewise, many digital cosmologies will try to base their argument on Leibniz, and his monadology, which attempts to reduce all things down to monads, which we might equate with a “1” or a “0” depending.

Hence, the idea that, via computer science, nous-like things, i.e. computer programs and transmission lines can be fully coded into logic gates, defined by 1s and 0s, and transmission signals, defined by strings of 0s and 1s, which can be rendered, via logarithms, into “information”, is very pleasing thought connection, for many cosmological informationists, who would like to find god in 1s and 0s, and connect this

Quotes

Quotes | Con

The following are quotes on the con-side:

Mathematics, e.g. computer science, itself is never the explanation of anything.”
Steven Weinberg (1992), Dreams of a Final Theory (pg. 39)

Quotes | Pro

The following are quotes on the pro-side of the conjecture:

Information is physical.”
Rolf Landauer (1991), “Information is Physical”[17]; cited by Seth Lloyd (2006) in Programming the Universe (pg. 213)
“The language of thermodynamics [2.0] is ‘energy’ or its derivatives such as ‘entropy’ or information which could be more fundamental than energy in time.”
Ram Poudel (2019), Thermodynamics 2.0 homepage, draft version, Jul

Quotes | Agnostic

The following are quotes on the fence sitter position of the conjecture:

“My guess as to the question: ‘is information the primary thing or is matter [or energy] the primary thing?’, would probably end up being that they are really the same kind of thing. That there's no difference between them. That matter is merely our way of representing to ourselves things that are in fact some pattern of information, but we can also say that matter is the primary thing and information is just our representation of that. It makes little difference, I don't think there's a big distinction - if one's right that there's an ultimate model for the representation of universe in terms of computation.”
— Stephen Wolfram (2011), Group dialogue; in Randomness Through Computation (pgs. 388-89) [18]
“I don't see justification for the claim that ‘information is more fundamental than energy’; although maybe I could be convinced in the future. Unless those bits are doing something different from the laws of physics, I don't really see that there's a question here. If two things are equivalent, I don't think there's any valid way to talk about which is more fundamental, and I see the two as equivalent.”
— Alan Guth (c.2015), Publication
“I leave it to others to argue about the similarity (or not) between these two entropies (Boltzmann and Shannon), my intent in presenting it here is simply to point out that, for many, Shannon started a ‘paradigm shift’ from thinking about energy to thinking about information, even going so far as to suggest that information is more fundamental than energy.”
Robert Hanlon (2020), Brick by Brick (§43:Shannon: Entropy and Information Theory) [19]

End matter

References

  1. Thims, Libb. (2012). “Thermodynamics ≠ Information Theory: Science’s Greatest Sokal Affair” (pdf) (annotated review: pdf, by Robert Doyle, 2020), Journal of Human Thermodynamics (Ѻ), 8(1): 1-120, Dec 19.
  2. (a) Wright, Robert. (1988). Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for  Meaning in an Age of Information (Fredkin, 97+ pgs). Times Books.
    (b) Banerjee, Utpal. (1996). Computer Education in India: Past, Present, and Future (pg. 63). Concept Publishing.
  3. Wheeler, John. (1989). “Information, Physics, Quantum: the Search for Links – Can We Ever Expect to Understand Existence?” (pdf); paper evolved from four presentations: Santa Fe Institute Conferences, 29 May to 2 Jun and 4-8 Jun 1989; Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics in the Light of New Technology (pgs. 354-68), Tokyo; and Penrose Lecture, 20-22 Apr 1989 at annual meeting at Benjamin Franklin’s American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia for Promoting Useful Knowledge; and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei Conference on La Verita nella Scienza, Rome 12 Oct 1989; Publication assisted in part by NSF Grant PHY 245-6243 to Princeton University.
  4. Shannon bandwagon – Hmolpedia 2020.
  5. Objectionable nonsense – Hmolpedia 2020.
  6. Davies, Paul. (2010). Information and the Nature of Reality (co-editor: Niels Gregersen) (pg. 82). Cambridge.
  7. Quantum flapdoodle – Hmolpedia 2020.
  8. Objectionable nonsense – Hmolpedia 2020.
  9. Artson, Bradley. (2015). Renewing the Process of Creation (Wheeler, Landauer, Davies, and Gregory Chaitin, pg. 40). Jewish Lights.
  10. It From Bit? (2013) – FQXi.org.
  11. Aguirre, Anthony; Foster, Brendnan; Merali; Zeeya. (2015). It From Bit or Bit From It?: On Physics and Information. Springer.
  12. SI unit geniuses – Hmolpedia 2020.
  13. Information entropy quotes – Hmolpedia 2020.
  14. Sokal affair – Hmolpedia 2020.
  15. Digital philosophy – Wikipedia.
  16. Digital physics – Wikipedia.
  17. (a) Landauer, Rolf. (1991). “Information is Physical” (pdf), Physics Today, 44:23-29.
    (b) Landauer, Rolf. (1996). “The Physical Nature of Information” (abs) (pdf), Physics Letters A, 217:188-93.
  18. Zenil, Hector. (2011). Randomness Through Computation (pgs. 388-89). World Scientific.
  19. Hanlon, Robert. (2020). Block by Block: the Historical and Theoretical Foundations of Thermodynamics (Illustrators: Robert Hanlon and Carly Sanker) (Bib) (§43:Shannon: Entropy and Information Theory). Oxford University Press.

Videos

  • Poudel, Ram; Thims, Libb; Haddad, Wassim; Kondepudi; Themis, Matsoukas; Deacon, Terrence; and Nahum, Gerard. (2020). “Boltzmann entropy (J/K) vs Shannon entropy (bits)” (YT), Thermodynamics 2.0 Conference, Group Discussion, Jun 22.

External links

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