Some comments on information theory

Ryan

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What a thread! Thanks for starting it, @Cleopatre VII!

Then there is the other side, those who try to bring physics/statistical mechanics and information theory together. One must be careful though, because a lot of it seems to be somewhat woo-woo, unclear, and based on playing with words, often resulting in circular reasoning. But it seems to me there IS something going on there, so in that respect, the die-hard critics of applying information theory to other things might be too black and white in their thinking.
Super-interesting post, @luc. I agree. It seems to me that we have quantitative mathematical descriptions that must 'merge' somehow with qualitative philosophical descriptions.

But then there are also those who seek to turn information into "stuff", i.e. something material. They actually WANT to sneak information into physics or other sciences, while treating it as some kind of material commodity. I think they are driven by the hope that by that maneuver, they can explain away some of the contradictions with materialism (but IMO they are just sneaking in language related to consciousness and are under the illusion that this preserves their materialist outlook...)
I've noticed this as well. It's like they try to preserve a reductionist, elemental view of the universe while making an allowance for the non-physical nature of information by saying, "It's ALL information."

And there is also the question - when you have maximally compressed a signal, what do you get? That's what Shannon originally called "intelligence"... And "intelligble" again implies that there is some intelligence/mind at the end of the transmission chain...
But what are these "events"? This is still a great mystery. I think they are related to information transfers. If so, there is only one remaining question: what is "information"?
Or maybe it's the whole thing that is aware of the awareness of its constituents. If the particles have other attributes, the interactions are more complex and the information too.
Yet the question remains: what is "observation"? In my own model of quantum measurements I have stated that "Nature observes herself". We do not need human observers, a detector is enough. Which solves the problem, but only to a certain extent. Because we then can enquire: What is this "detector"? It is a devise that has been identified and used as a "detector". Some intelligence is needed to notice that something "happened", that some information about something else has been provided. And some intelligence was needed to "construct" a detector and to use it in a meaningful way, not as a hammer. We need to know what "meaning" is, first of all. Back to "information".
What is consciousness? It has something to do with the ability to receive, process, store, and transmit information. This information is somehow incorporated into the thing itself - it registers the information transfer, like data about position and heat, responds accordingly (or not), and is changed in the process. Perhaps consciousness has something to do with the degree and complexity of an 'observer's' ability to process, receive, or contain information?

And what is information? It seems to be the word we use to describe possibilities and how they are actualized. For example, this particle (and not those other ones) is here (and not all those other possible places). When it changes position, nature observes, i.e. all other particles register its new position, and are thus informed by it. They are not simply "all those other particles", but "all those other particles in relation to this specific particle, and each other." Or, I am this shape, not all those other possible shapes. I have these experiences, these things I've learned, this history, and not all other possible ones. Or, this statement about things is true, not all those other possible but false statements. That is still very fuzzy, though.
I am fairly certain that many here would suggest that matter is an epiphenomenon of consciousness, not the other way around! Perhaps even matter is conscious on some basic level. So could we hypothesize about 'basic units of consciousness'? Can we order consciousness: self-aware -> conscious -> perceiving/perception -> information.
But we have no idea what consciousness is. How to describe it? Science of consciousness is still to be developed. Science of information is already partly available. Both are somehow connected. But the question is: how? The devil is in the details, and these are lacking. How it all fits together with gravity waves, black holes, magnetic monoples, extra dimensions, Mobius bands, and prime numbers? That is the challenge of today.
On the other hand "ether" can be full of motion, though yet unorganized (chaotic). Things then become "actual", when motions get "organized" into "meaningful" structures. But then, it seams to me, there is this concept at least as important as that of information: "meaning". What do we mean by meaning? Where it comes from. My guess is that it may be very close to the concept of consciousness
I don’t see how we could possibly be different or even think or choose at all without being able to generate NEW information, new ideas, which is more than just restructuring/processing the information we received with software preloaded into our heads. The thing that differentiates us from a computer is that on top of receiving information and having software, processing, and memory, we are able to ask infinity for additional information/ideas, which, because of the nature of infinity, will always have the possibility of being new, inspired
If we look at the key concepts under discussion, we have:

1) Consciousness
2) Meaning
3) Information
4) Math
5) Events
6) Time
7) Entropy

Drawing some intuitive relationships, we can hypothesise:

1) Consciousness embraces information, meaning and events.
2) Meaning and events are composed of information and consciousness.
3) Information can be destroyed or created by consciousness.
4) Consciousness, information and meaning are non-material phenomena.

The idea of communication presupposes at least two distinct consciousnesses, or possibly one consciousness in two distinct states of information content, with information flowing between them. The process of learning allows us to see that information can be supposedly be replicated - a teacher is able to teach many students. Has any replication in fact occurred though, or have the student consciousnesses all created a 'link' to an area of a common "information field" - a kind of 'simultaneous embracing' of the same information?

Yet what is the "information" that is linked to? We know from semiotics that the "content" of the information differs from the means used to access it - for instance, one person may speak English, another Russian etc. Different words, variable sounds, yet the same "content". Can we give this a formal definition? What does "formal" mean? Dictionary? Mathematical? A word that reflects the "essence" of the information? What about the word "information" itself? Is the word already reflective of its own essence? "In - form -ation" - Shape? Geometry?

Where does math come into this? It seems to me that math works well for modelling the physical universe. Does that necessarily hold true for the ethereal universe, though? It occurs to me that asking "What is consciousness?" may be the wrong question. "What" implies a sort of structure, or tangible "thing-ness". Perhaps, "Who is consciousness?" may be the better question to ask?

Again this leads away from mathematics. Can I answer the question of "Who?" mathematically? Who is consciousness? What word, or symbol from the mathematically domain would be appropriate? Intuitively, there is only "one" answer: 1. Can this be proven though? Can I prove, mathematically, that I am 1? That others, also conscious, are 1?

In this context, what does "proof" mean? When a mathematical equation is "proven", it seems to have some sort of "authority". For instance, to some people, it is proven with evidence that vaccines are dangerous and even deadly. Yet to others, this proof is insufficient. There is a "consensus of belief" that determines the environment and actions of people en masse. Yet in mathematics, this consensus does not seem to be so important. "Proving" an equation does not relate to mass agreement - the "proof" has an inherent meaning of its own.

Love seems to be similar. We do not need mass agreement to love a person. We simply love them. What is the relationship between mathematics and love?

Information seems to be not quite the same. Information can exist without meaning. A word, a form of information, can be meaningless or meaningful depending on intent. If I say, "shoomabilagoo", this conveys information, but no meaning. It could be said that I have just created useless information. No doubt, in time, it will eventually be destroyed. This process of creating and destroying information could be seen as somewhat akin to "remembering" and "forgetting". Perhaps when we re-member something, we simply bring into consciousness that which, on a higher level, we already knew? Anyway, this is digressing a bit.

It seems that information is a kind of "structure" of meaning. That structure can then inform shapes, sounds, images, words, forces, laws, particles, chemicals, objects, DNA, lifeforms, relationships, societies, technologies, civilisations... the possibilities are infinite.

Now, can this "structure" be mathematically described? It seems possible. What's the necessary math?

I haven't a clue. Hoping greater minds than mine can enlighten me in this regard. 😂 (Also, I apologise if there were more questions than answers in this post - that's probably reflective of my own state of knowledge and being. 🙂 )
 

Cleopatre VII

Jedi Master
What is currently known and tested about what is consciousness and how it works in the universe, mathematically?
It's really hard to answer that question. First of all, there are many hypotheses and theories that are more philosophical or even mystical than strictly scientific.

When it comes to a strictly scientific approach, it is supposed that certain aspects of consciousness could be described using the methods of quantum mechanics and neurobiology or science, or rather protoscience, which tries to connect them - quantum neurobiology.

The idea of quantum neurobiology is based on the fact that certain structures in biological cells are so small that quantum effects take place there. This applies, for example, to microtubules or individual sections of ion channels. Hence, for example, the study of the flow of ions through ion channels is one of the examples of research in the field of quantum neurobiology. But at the moment there are many questions, but there are almost no answers...
 

ark

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What is currently known and tested about what is consciousness and how it works in the universe, mathematically?
Very little. You can look at my "Comments on super-restistance of consciousness" - a piece from my debate with David Chalmers . People are trying to use quantum theory, but quantum theory needs to be understood first.

Here are my thoughts on the subject, taken from the final paragraph from these "Comments":

"... But the question remains: where is consciousness? Let me present briefly my own thoughts on this subject. Consciousness, I think, has something to do with awareness of oneself, one’s own state, and of the external world. Awareness which is open to knowledge. The more aware we are and the more knowledge we have and use, the more conscious we may become. There is another aspect of consciousness, which is our awareness of the passage of time. This problem goes beyond quantum theory. Time, its ‘flow’, together with its mysterious arrow, is, I think, a mystery to be solved if we want to solve the problem of consciousness. But that would lead us far beyond the scope of your talk.
 
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luc

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On the topic of consciousness, another thought I had - what makes us different from each other? You can have 2 computers, and as long as they have the same software, given the same input, they will produce the same output. But people don’t do that. Hell, even the same person won’t do that given that because of this unique quality of people, which we call “free will”.

I don't think it's that easy and we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions quickly.

When viewed from the outside (empirically), it is not at all obvious that "people don't do that". The point could be made that humans with super-sophisticated computers instead of brains/consciousness would be indistinguishable from conscious humans. This is the point David Chalmers makes with his idea that a "zombie world" where people don't have any consciousness is at least conceivable. And more practically, isn't it a fact that most people, and we ourselves to a large part, are behaving "automatically"? Where is the free will on this planet? I guess there is at least some truth to the materialist idea that we are all "automatons" (as Daniel Dennet for example seems to claim).

What really makes the difference though is our internal experience, the fact that we have this rich inner experience. This is completely incompatible with materialism. And I suspect that there are great differences among humans as to the quality and depth of their inner experience, which is almost impossible to tell from the outside. But it seems to me it is the nature of this inner experience that gives us a degree of free will - we are free to choose our experience in a certain way, and to act differently as a consequence (or rather be acted upon differently?).

I don’t know enough to say one way or another, but I thought the quantum superposition means that multiple measurements of quantum objects will not always give the same result, which suggests to me that there’s always this “fuzziness” when it comes to measuring or controlling the behavior of such things. Are quantum phenomenon examples of free will at the tiny scale?

Again, we need to be careful. This argument is common but seems a bit dubious. The probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics is still compatible with determinism, or at least with the non-existence of free will (such as in the many-worlds interpretation of QM). If I can't "change the odds", then it doesn't matter that there are "odds" involved.

Perhaps we need to get out of this materialist mindset of "bouncing atoms" once and for all. We don't know what a "particle" is, we just know about some effects in relation to other things. Perhaps causality has nothing to do with "material stuff causing other material stuff to do something", but with an information exchange, and with conscious experience of such an information exchange. This seems to be the direction David Chalmers is going as well. It all still sounds fuzzy of course. And perhaps a mathematical/formal approach could help clarify what's going on, because math is not tied to "material stuff bouncing around". Perhaps there is a way to incorporate some of these fuzzy words into a formalism that bridges the gap towards higher dimensions, replace "material causality" with a sort of non-material causality, and so on. But I think good philosophy can still help, at least I think it helped me clarify some of the problems and avoid some traps.

Yes, the notion that there is no free will, and that we are just machines etc., is a ridiculous insult. But if we truly want to find out what is going on, what the truth is, it doesn't help to just say "this is not true!" or to embrace some opposite theory. Instead, we need to "fight our way out" by really thinking through the problems from all angles, and sticking to rigid thinking. Just as we all did with Darwinism.
 

ark

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The probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics is still compatible with determinism, or at least with the non-existence of free will (such as in the many-worlds interpretation of QM).

Personally I do not think that many-worlds interpretation has any advantages whatsoever. It is not able to describe what happens in an any real experiment. On the other hand my own child, EEQT, does it. But EEQT takes random nature of "quantum events" for granted. It uses random number generators. Can they be replaced by something deterministic? Sure, random numbers (for all practical purposes) can generated by classical non-linear chaotic phenomena. But that would be an ad hock solution. We need something deeper. We need to go beyond space and time, beyond its causal structure. How consciousness (whatever it is) can influence quantum randomness and causal order? How can we "see" the future (and there is some evidence that this sometimes happens"? That goes beyond quantum theory and many worlds. As for free will - I think that non-determinism is an essential feature of the world (material and non-material), and that it gives the concept of free-will an essential support. One day, I think, we will understand that the universe lacking the free will feature would simply collapse out of boredom!
 

dennis

Jedi Master
One day, I think, we will understand that the universe lacking the free will feature would simply collapse out of boredom!

Have you ever thought about nothing? Its apparently something to think about.

Central to humanity’s quest to grasp the nature of the universe and make sense of our own existence is zero, which began in Mesopotamia and spurred one of the most significant paradigm shifts in human consciousness — a concept first invented (or perhaps discovered) in pre-Arab Sumer, modern-day Iraq, and later given symbolic form in ancient India. This twining of meaning and symbol not only shaped mathematics, which underlies our best models of reality, but became woven into the very fabric of human life, from the works of Shakespeare, who famously winked at zero in King Lear by calling it “an O without a figure,” to the invention of the bit that gave us the 1s and 0s underpinning my ability to type these words and your ability to read them on this screen.

Robert Kaplan's The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero begins as a mystery story, taking us back to Sumerian times, and then to Greece and India, piecing together the way the idea of a symbol for nothing evolved. Kaplan shows us just how handicapped our ancestors were in trying to figure
large sums without the aid of the zero. (Try multiplying CLXIV by XXIV). Remarkably, even the Greeks, mathematically brilliant as they were, didn't have a zero--or did they? We follow the trail to the East where, a millennium or two ago, Indian mathematicians took another crucial step. By treating
zero for the first time like any other number, instead of a unique symbol, they allowed huge new leaps forward in computation, and also in our understanding of how mathematics itself works.
In the Middle Ages, this mathematical knowledge swept across western Europe via Arab traders. At first it was called "dangerous Saracen magic" and considered the Devil's work, but it wasn't long before merchants and bankers saw how handy this magic was, and used it to develop tools like
double-entry bookkeeping. Zero quickly became an essential part of increasingly sophisticated equations, and with the invention of calculus, one could say it was a linchpin of the scientific revolution. And now even deeper layers of this thing that is nothing are coming to light: our computers speak
 

Ryan

The Living Force
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Very little. You can look at my "Comments on super-restistance of consciousness" - a piece from my debate with David Chalmers . People are trying to use quantum theory, but quantum theory needs to be understood first.
Hi Ark, after reading your paper, I am wondering if a "superposition sector" is approximately equivalent to a "possibility"? Can it be said that a superposition A contains sectors B, C, D, E, F, G in a simple set like so:

A = {B, C, D, E, F, G}

where B, C, D, E, F, G are each a conforming algebra like you described in Example 2?
 

ark

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Hi Ark, after reading your paper, I am wondering if a "superposition sector" is approximately equivalent to a "possibility"? Can it be said that a superposition A contains sectors B, C, D, E, F, G in a simple set like so:

A = {B, C, D, E, F, G}

where B, C, D, E, F, G are each a conforming algebra like you described in Example 2?
"Superselection sector" is the name. Within such a sector quantum meachanics with its strange possibiliteis but not actualities, rules. But between different superselection sectors classical alteranative are at work: either or. When something "happens", it means one of these worlds (sectors) is selected, and this is an irreversible choice - an event. Information is being recorded. Apart of the possibility of time trave that goes, however, beyond the quantum theory.
The dynamics of selecting such a sector I call, in my papers, "binamics". To remember that it is bits ratheer than, say, kilograms are being moved.
 

PabloAngello

Jedi Master
I think current circular floating around consciousness topic is strongly caused by looking on it from our (human) perspective. I have seen few papers about so called "mathematic models of consciousness" and lectures about it on YT - there are often reffering to statements like: "feeling of color red", "giving a meaning to certain word" etc. And had no mathematic model at all, just mathematically expressed assumptions, etc.. This is an approach that tryies to explain fundamental problems (consciousness, free will, and such) from perspective of enormously big macro elements like our human body, that has 6 senses inbuilt by default, 2 legs, two arms, eyes, mouth, tongue, billions of cell receptors and biggest brain we know among all animals.
Ability to develop language that we use in our reality came from the fact we have the vocal cords, mouth, tongue. So we are starting our view of consciousness thread from the wrong point of view - we should rather start from the question: "what is the simplest conscious/feeling/free will manifestation possible?" Let's say we would turn of the sense of sight and hearing, then what? No language, but it doesn't mean such person is not conscious.
I suppose we should through away all complicated things, like complicated senses like hearing etc. Focus on simplest entity possible that can interact with simplest enviroment, and start from that point.
 

PabloAngello

Jedi Master
For need of thought experiment, let's say this little black rectangle is single entity that can move up/down/left/right. Gray figures are static obstacles. What would be conscious behavior of black rectangle guy then? Can we even answer such question?

1635082495493.png

Or maybe something is lacking here, if so, what exactly? Maybe rectangle-guy needs some senses? Sens of sight for example. Maybe 'he' needs something else, like need to consume something? Maybe new kind of obstalce, that would mirror his 'body' (then he needs to have sense of sight)?
What is needed here to conscious behavior occuring?
 
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PabloAngello

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(Sorry time to edited passed)
In other way Im trying to ask - how 'his' behavior should look like to call it conscious?

If we can answer such questions then it should be easier to study cosciousness and free will rather than analysing it from complex perspective like human emotions, language etc.
 

ark

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(Sorry time to edited passed)
In other way Im trying to ask - how 'his' behavior should look like to call it conscious?

If we can answer such questions then it should be easier to study cosciousness and free will rather than analysing it from complex perspective like human emotions, language etc.
I think that thinking about consciousness as something having to to with this or that behavior may be a trap. Consciousness, I think resides beyond space and time. I think it is somehow related to what we may call "cosmic intelligence", "intelligent design", "creativity" etc. When new information is being created "out of nothing". Contemporary information theory is, I think, about computing and processing already existing information, avoiding errors, battling entropy etc. We need to move beyond these limits.
 

PabloAngello

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@ark I understand your point. Of course moving and processing information of above example object would reside into the coding language behind a programm that would simulate it (we could call it information field/part-of-reality then). However Im trying to reduce as much as its possible, everything that is needed to start describing conscious behavior, free will manifestation etc.
I just want to know what is simplest manifestation of cosciousness, the basic, fundamental one.
 

ark

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"what is simplest manifestation of consciousness"

I think it is awareness of being entangled with all existence, and of having the free will to choose between good and bad. I do not think your square would have such an awareness :-)
 

PabloAngello

Jedi Master
@ark Thats why I asked "Or maybe something is lacking here, if so, what exactly?". So what should it be if not square? :) Maybe square or anything is not needed at all. That's what you are saying?
 
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