Abstract: We have a conundrum. The physical basis of information is clearly a highly active research area. Yet the power of information theory comes precisely from separating it from the detailed problems of building physical systems to perform information processing tasks. Developments in quantum information over the last two decades seem to have undermined this separation, leading to suggestions that information is itself a physical entity and must be part of our physical theories, with resource-cost implications. We will consider a variety of ways in which physics seems to a affect computation, but will ultimately argue to the contrary: rejecting the claims that information is physical provides a better basis for understanding the fertile relationship between information theory and physics. instead, we will argue that the physical resource costs of information processing are to be understood through the need to consider physically embodied agents for whom information processing tasks are performed. Doing so sheds light on what it takes for something to be implementing a computational or information processing task of a given kind. (public access) – Maroney, O J E and Timpson, C G (2017) How is there a Physics of Information? On characterising physical evolution as information processing. More.
It’s amazing the number of people who have striven to think that information is physical, for no reason that makes any sense*. Consider perceptronium (an alleged “information” element) and other information is physical. How physical is “Tuesday” or “that vermilion hue” or “I am sorry to have to tell you that we could not save your mother”? There are, of course, almost endless physical referents but no overlap.
It makes no sense except insofar as they need to close the loop of naturalism. Then nothing need make any sense; it need only be the enforced view. One can at least choose between that and science.
See also: New Scientist on information: More fundamental than matter and energy? Are they growing up over there? Well, if we must choose between the cautious Paul Davies’ concerns and Sean Carroll’s war on falsifiability, we should ask whether science really matters a whole lot compared to what dope the Cool crowd smokes now.
Data basic: An introduction to information theory
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Information drives the development of life. But what is the source of that information? Could it have been produced by an unguided Darwinian process? Or did it require intelligent design? The Information Enigma is a fascinating 21-minute documentary that probes the mystery of biological information, the challenge it poses to orthodox Darwinian theory, and the reason it points to intelligent design. The video features molecular biologist Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer, author of the books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt.
Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista