Information Intelligent Design Video

New vid: What is information?

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Closer to Truth is a “public television series featuring scientists, philosophers, theologians and scholars exploring the deepest questions of Cosmos, Consciousness and Meaning-the structure of the universe, the nature of the mind and the search for ultimate reality.”

What is information? Information is all the rage in science, changing how we think about fundamental questions. Information has many descriptions, some of them surprising. Why is Information so important to scientists and philosophers? Featuring interviews with Max Tegmark, Paul Davies, Seth Lloyd, Giulio Tononi, and Scott Aaronson.

The fact that anyone is taking information seriously is a big step forward.

Incidentally, Giulio Tonioni’s theory of consciousness is linked to panpsychism. See:

Why is science growing comfortable with panpsychism (“everything is conscious” )? At one time, the idea that “everything is conscious” was the stuff of jokes. Not any more, it seems. A recent article at New Scientist treats panpsychism as a serious idea in science. That’s thanks to the growing popularity of neuroscientist Giulio Tonioni’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which offers the opportunity for mathematical modeling, along with the implication that inanimate matter and/or the universe may be conscious. If IIT continues to gain a sympathetic hearing, panpsychism could become, over time, a part of normal science.

7 Replies to “New vid: What is information?

  1. 1
    Barry Arrington says:

    Max Tegmark: “Maybe information is even more fundamental than matter and energy and space.”
    Nice to see folks finally catching up to where Bill Dembski was many years ago.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    Depends on which version of information you’re using, doesn’t it?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    As to trying to put some empirical meat on the bones for the claim made in the video, namely, “Maybe information is even more fundamental than matter and energy and space” it is first good to note that it is now proven that the universe itself, all matter and energy and space (and time), came into existence at the creation of the universe during the Big Bang approx. 14 billions years ago.

    Evidence Supporting the Big Bang
    http://www.astronomynotes.com/cosmolgy/s7.htm

    Big Bang Theory – An Overview of the main evidence
    Excerpt: Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space.1, 2 According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy.”3
    Steven W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36.
    Steven W. Hawking, Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, 314 (1970) pp. 529-548.
    http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970

    Thus since all space-time, matter-energy, of the universe were brought into being at the creation of the universe, then it necessarily follows that whatever brought the universe into being must itself be beyond all space-time, matter-energy. It just so happens that information itself, (as well as mathematics), is irreducible to space-time, matter-energy.

    As I recently noted on another thread, “Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes…”

    The fact that information is immaterial is easily demonstrated by the fact that we can inscribe information on an almost endless variety of material substrates, using on almost endless variety of different languages, and yet the meaning of the information never changes between the material substrates as long as the information is faithfully encoded and decoded on the almost endless variety of material substrates. In other words, there is something profoundly immaterial about information that refuses to be reduced to materialistic descriptions..
    As George Williams pointed out, “Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes…”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/orthomyxo-types-on-keyboard-when-letters-appear-on-screen-its-physical/#comment-701004

    Likewise, mathematics itself, (which is reducible to information), is also profoundly immaterial and timeless in its foundational nature,

    As David Berlinski states in the following article,“There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time…. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there.

    An Interview with David Berlinski – Jonathan Witt
    Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time….
    Interviewer:… Come again(?) …
    Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/20.....-here.html

    This immaterial, timeless, mathematical world has traditionally been referred to as a ‘Platonic World”

    Platonic mathematical world – image
    http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/i.....ysical.gif

    As the following article points out, ‘Mathematical platonism enjoys widespread support and is frequently considered the default metaphysical position with respect to mathematics.,,, and that arguments for mathematical platonism typically assert,,, that mathematical entities are not constituents of the spatio-temporal realm.’

    Mathematical Platonism
    Excerpt: Mathematical platonism enjoys widespread support and is frequently considered the default metaphysical position with respect to mathematics. This is unsurprising given its extremely natural interpretation of mathematical practice. In particular, mathematical platonism takes at face-value such well known truths as that “there exist” an infinite number of prime numbers, and it provides straightforward explanations of mathematical objectivity and of the differences between mathematical and spatio-temporal entities. Thus arguments for mathematical platonism typically assert that in order for mathematical theories to be true their logical structure must refer to some mathematical entities, that many mathematical theories are indeed objectively true, and that mathematical entities are not constituents of the spatio-temporal realm.
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/mathplat/

    In fact, the fact that man himself can use this immaterial, timeless, world of information and mathematics offers fairly compelling evidence that man in not a purely material being but that man must also possess a transcendent, beyond space and time, immaterial mind and/or soul.

    Dr. Ed Feser – The Immateriality of the Intellect – video
    Excerpt:
    1: Formal thought processes can have an exact or unambiguous conceptual content.
    However,
    2: Nothing material can have an exact or unambiguous conceptual content.
    So,
    3: Formal thought processes are not material.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNi0j19ZSpo

    As Charles Darwin’s contemporary, Alfred Russel Wallace himself stated, “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    Alfred Russel Wallace – 1910
    https://evolutionnews.org/2010/08/alfred_russel_wallace_co-disco/

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    But anyways, (although it is certainly very interesting that our use of information and mathematics is proof, in and of itself, that we must necessarily possess an immaterial component to our being, i.e. a ‘soul’,) we must get back to the main question of providing proof that information is the bedrock of reality.

    In quantum mechanics it has now been proven that ‘realism’, which is the belief that a material reality exists apart from our conscious observation of it, is false.

    The following violation of Leggett’s inequality found that “reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.
    Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    And the following Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which was done with atoms instead of photons, proved that “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’?
    The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    What is interesting about this, as far as information itself is concerned, is that in quantum mechanics, prior to measurement and/or observation, the photon and/or atom is mathematically defined as existing in an ‘infinite dimensional’ Hilbert space:

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Why do we need infinite-dimensional Hilbert spaces in physics?
    You need an infinite dimensional Hilbert space to represent a wavefunction of any continuous observable (like position for example).
    https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/149786/why-do-we-need-infinite-dimensional-hilbert-spaces-in-physics

    Moreover, it is an infinite dimensional state that is also mathematically required to take an infinite amount of information to describe properly.

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (quantum) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the superposition of the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Infinity – Max Tegmark
    Excerpt: real numbers with their infinitely many decimals have infested almost every nook and cranny of physics, from the strengths of electromagnetic fields to the wave functions of quantum mechanics: we describe even a single bit of quantum information (a qubit) using two real numbers involving infinitely many decimals.
    https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25344

    Thus, since we ourselves are certainly not the ones who are ‘collapsing the wave function’ from its infinite dimensional and infinite information state into the classical state of 1 or 0, then we must necessarily appeal to a cause that has the causal sufficiency within itself to explain how it is possible for a infinite dimensional and infinite information state to collapse into the classical state of 1 or 0.

    For me, as a Christian Theist, I have a more than sufficient cause that I can appeal to,

    Saying something is in an infinite dimensional state to me, as a Christian Theist, certainly sounds very much like the theistic attribute of omnipresence to me.

    Psalm 139: 7-12
    Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from Your presence?
    8 If I ascend to the heavens, You are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle by the farthest sea,
    10 even there Your hand will guide me;
    Your right hand will hold me fast.
    11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
    and the light become night around me”—
    12 even the darkness is not dark to You,
    but the night shines like the day,
    for darkness is as light to You.

    Hebrews 4:13
    Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

    And then saying something takes an infinite amount of information to describe, as a Christian, certainly sounds very much like the Theistic attribute of Omniscience to me.

    Psalm 147:5
    Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; his understanding is infinite

    Colossians 2:3
    in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    Thus in conclusion, the universe is neither self originating, nor is it self-sustaining,, but the universe is instead dependent on a cause that must itself be beyond space-time, matter-energy. A beyond space-time, matter-energy cause which must also necessarily possess the attributes of omnipresence and omniscience in order to have the causal sufficiency within itself to explain the quantum wave collapse of a infinite dimensional, infinite information, state. Again, as a Christian, I readily have a more than sufficient cause that I can appeal to:

    Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    As Dr. Bruce Gordon explained when he refuted Stephen Hawking’s ‘irrational’ attempt to explain the existence of the universe minus God:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy.
    This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world,,,
    Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.,,
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.
    – per washington times

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Supplemental notes:

    Here is an interesting quote about the enigmatic infinite dimensional Hilbert Spaces in quantum mechanics, ” (Imagine reading off details about elementary particles from the rules of chess-castling. en passant-a la Lewis Carro;; in Through the Looking Glass.) No physicist today understands why this is possible..”

    The Applicability of Mathematics as a Philosophical Problem – Mark Steiner – (page 44)
    Excerpt: Let us now recapitulate: beginning with the concept of a Hilbert space, a certain kind of (usually infinite-dimensional) vector space, and the formal requirement that a unit vector on the space represents all possible information can be gleaned. First, the space cannot be a real vector space; the usual formalism is, therefore, based on a complex Hilbert space. With this formalism the Heisenberg uncertainty principle follows directly. So does the quantization of angular momentum, including the so called “space quantization”. So does the prediction that “electron spin” cannot be due to spatial rotation. And so do the selection rules for the spectrum of hydrogen, based on the “nonphysical” concept of parity.
    The role of Hilbert spaces in quantum mechanics, then, is much more profound than the descriptive role of a single concept. An entire formalism-the Hilbert space formalism-is matched with nature. Information about nature is being “read off” the details of the formalism. (Imagine reading off details about elementary particles from the rules of chess-castling. en passant-a la Lewis Carro;; in Through the Looking Glass.) No physicist today understands why this is possible..
    https://books.google.com/books?id=GKBwKCma1HsC&pg=PA44

    To say that the creation of the universe is antagonistic to atheistic materialism is an understatement

    “I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that the universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”
    Antony Flew – considered world’s leading atheist philosopher for most of his adult life until a few years shortly before his death
    – The Case for a Creator – Lee Strobel – video (26:00 minute mark)
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/ee32d/

    “My argument,” Dr. Penzias concluded, “is that the best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I had nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
    – Fred Heeren, Show Me God (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000),

    “The question of ‘the beginning’ is as inescapable for cosmologists as it is for theologians…there is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing”
    George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, 1993, p.189. – George Smoot is a Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – ‘God and the Astronomers’ – Pg.15 – 2000

    Dr. Craig laid out the argument for God from the creation of the universe in the “Kalam Cosmological Argument”

    The Kalam Cosmological Argument – William Lane Craig
    Excerpt: 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its beginning.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.
    Conclusion
    On the basis, therefore, of both philosophical and scientific evidence, we have good grounds for believing that the universe began to exist. It therefore follows that the universe has a cause of its beginning.
    What properties must this cause of the universe possess? This cause must be itself uncaused because we’ve seen that an infinite series of causes is impossible. It is therefore the Uncaused First Cause. It must transcend space and time, since it created space and time. Therefore, it must be immaterial and non-physical. It must be unimaginably powerful, since it created all matter and energy.,,,
    Ghazali’s cosmological argument thus gives us powerful grounds for believing in the existence of a beginningless, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, enormously powerful, Personal Creator of the universe.
    https://www.reasonablefaith.org/videos/interviews-panels/what-is-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-bobby-conway/

  6. 6
    awstar says:

    I’ve listened closely what all these brilliant people said about “information”. Not one of them said anything that contradicts Dr. Gitt’s explanation of information, and all of them accurately described some aspect of what Dr. Gitt says information is.

    In the Beginning Was Information
    Paperback – March 15, 2006
    by Dr. Werner Gitt
    $5.99 at Amazon in Kindle format

    Save yourself (or your corporation) some money by not going to an exotic vacation place for a conference to listen to these great thinkers, and just read this $5.99 book. You will be further along than all of them in understanding what information is.

  7. 7
    jawa says:

    There are two irreconcilable opposite worldview positions: on one end those who believe that the ultimate reality is defined by matter and energy. In the other end those who believe that the ultimate reality is defined by the first few verses of the 4th book of the New Testament of the Christian Scriptures (the Gospel according to John): in the beginning was LOGOS.
    It seems like gradually science is leading us to the confirmation of the latter.
    In biology some DNA nucleotide sequences code for regulatory ncRNA, others code for pre-mRNA, others code for TF-binding sites, promoter regions, enhancers, etc.

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