Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Information flow in rocks and brains: Your mug may have a message for you


Coffee mug clip art Free vector for free download (about 13 files). Researchers at the Santa Fe Institute has come up with a new definition of information that includes meaning but also seems to include non-conscious entities:

Our framework is grounded in the intrinsic dynamics of a system coupled to an environment, and is applicable to any physical system, living or otherwise. It leads to formal definitions of several concepts that have been intuitively understood to be related to semantic information, including ‘value of information’, ‘semantic content’ and ‘agency’.

ENST asks, “can semantics really be “meaningful” in a realm of non-conscious entities”?

With this definition, they want a theory able to encompass every interaction in biology and even physics. They even see information flow in rocks and hurricanes! To them, their definition helps “sort the wheat from the chaff when trying to make sense of the information a physical system has about its environment.” Any system, physical or biological, that sustains its existence has semantic information, according to this view. Notice it need not be symbolic. Trends in Philosophy of Science: What Does “Semantic Information” Mean?” at Evolution News and Science Today

Of course, if we do equate information flow in rocks with information flow in minds, we are probably looking at a naturalist (materialist) view of consciousness: Nature is all there is and everything is conscious. There is a certain simplicity to it; there is no hard problem of consciousness; it’s an illusion.

As noted at Mind Matters:

To understand why Scientific American would take panpsychism or the “multiple personality disorder” universe seriously, one needs to begin by grasping how very hard the problem of consciousness is for materialists (naturalists). Put simply, it is easier for many today to stomach the idea that an electron is conscious than the idea that consciousness is not a material entity.

That position is not, of course, science. It is simply where materialism ends up. And if the current scene is any guide, we will hear stranger views yet.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: Panpsychism: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug Materialists have a solution to the problem of consciousness, and it may startle you

If the information flow in rocks is similar to that in minds, it is surely only a matter of time when psychologists will tell us that a chair "feels uncomfortable" where it has been placed. Belfast
From the paper:
To make things more concrete, we illustrate our approach using a few examples: (1)?Consider a distribution over rocks (the system) and fields (the environment) over a timescale of ? = 1 year. Rocks tend to stay in a low entropy state for long periods of time due to their very slow dynamics. If we ‘scramble the information’ between rocks and their environments by swapping rocks between different fields, this will not significantly change the propensity of rocks to disintegrate into (high entropy) dust after 1 year. Since the viability does not change significantly due to the intervention, the viability value of information is very low for a rock.
Good grief. Upright BiPed
Nonsense flows from many brains too. :) PeterA
That’s general information, but not functional information. It’s not complex functional specified information. The latter is uniquely associated with meaning and purpose, hence it’s designed by conscious agents. PeterA

Leave a Reply