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CategoryInformation Theory

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Dembski: Information is the Basic Stuff of Reality

It's information all the way down, says mathematician and philosopher William Dembski

If information, not matter, is the basic stuff of reality, how would this change the way we look at the world? On a classic episode of ID the Future, Center for Science and Culture Managing Director John West sits down with mathematician and philosopher William Dembski to discuss his 2014 book Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information. Building on his previous books making a case for intelligent design, Being as Communion presents a metaphysical framework for an informational world that can accommodate intelligent design.  One of Dembski’s key arguments is that matter isn’t the fundamental unit of reality. “Everything that we call matter reveals itself through patterns, through information,” says Dr. Dembski. To get to the heart of the matter, we must look Read More ›

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What’s the Relation Between Intelligence and Information?

The fundamental intuition of information as narrowing down possibilities matches up neatly with the concept of intelligence

The key intuition behind the concept of information is the narrowing of possibilities. The more that possibilities are narrowed down, the greater the information. If I tell you I’m on planet Earth, I haven’t conveyed any information because you already knew that (let’s leave aside space travel). If I tell you I’m in the United States, I’ve begun to narrow down where I am in the world. If I tell you I’m in Texas, I’ve narrowed down my location further. If I tell you I’m forty miles north of Dallas, I’ve narrowed my location down even further. As I keep narrowing down my location, I’m providing you with more and more information. Information is therefore, in its essence, exclusionary: the more Read More ›

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Programmers: Why Materialism Can’t Explain Human Creativity

Eric Holloway and Robert Marks explain why it’s unlikely that the mind that enables human creativity is merely the product of animal evolution
The total space-time information capacity of the universe falls significantly short of the ability to generate meaningful text of only a few hundred letters. Read More ›
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Can Informational Realism Help Sort Out the Mind–Body Problem?

According to William Dembski, informational realism asserts that the ability to exchange information is the defining feature of reality
If information is “the relational glue that holds reality together,” the mind–body problem can be reframed in a more satisfactory way. Read More ›
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Could Our Minds Be Bigger Than Even a Multiverse?

The relationship between information, entropy, and probability suggests startling possibilities. If you find the math hard, a face-in-the-clouds illustration works too
This article has equal entropy to gibberish letters of the same length, yet it contains information and gibberish does not. Much follows from that fact. Read More ›
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Is Your Mind Bigger Than the Universe? Well, Look At It This Way…

Surprisingly, there is a way to measure the mind that shows it IS bigger than the universe — information

Imagine you’re sitting at home, relaxing in your favorite easy chair. Go on, kick your legs up. Feel your limbs releasing the stress of the day, starting from the extremities, and progressing up your core to your head. Now, let your mind expand. Let go of what is holding your mind down. Feel it become free, outside of everything around it. Let the feeling continue until your mind is bigger than the universe. Now consider the question: if your mind is bigger than the universe, can it be within the universe? If a ball is bigger than a bag, can it be contained by the bag? Of course not. If the mind is bigger than the universe, then it must Read More ›

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William Dembski: When Is Transhumanism a Form of Technobigotry?

In his further essays in the current series, he explains why AI cannot avoid collapse without the input of novel information from humans
AI systems alone go bankrupt, Dembski argues, because intelligence by nature requires novel insights and creativity, which is to say, an oracle from outside. Read More ›
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How Life Differs From Matter: It Intentionally Uses Information

Information is immaterial by nature which makes it difficult to predict. Read More ›
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Can Money Be Pure Information? Merely a Trusted Idea?

A group of pragmatic Pacific Islanders put that concept to the test centuries ago
The giant stone discs of Yap have been compared to bitcoin in that the financial system they represent functions without a central banking authority. Read More ›
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Directed Goals in Living and Evolving Systems

Nearly every action that an organism does is for something.
 Can this teleonomic behavior of evolution simply be a byproduct of non-teleological forms of evolution? Information theory suggests that this is not likely. Read More ›
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Can Information Be Separated From Intelligence? Part 3

Theoretical biologist Barbieri’s practical dilemma is that a popular, dominant idea like “life is just chemistry” need not be proved, only insisted on
Fundamentally, Barbieri wants a new information-friendly paradigm without dispensing with the old no-information one. But no one can ride two horses at once. Read More ›
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Can Information Be Separated From Intelligence? Part 2

Theoretical biologist Marcello Barbieri envisions life’s origin in terms that only make sense if we assume life is the work of an intelligent agent
Although Barbieri depicts the origin of life as the production of “artefacts,” he certainly does not see himself as an intelligent design theorist. Read More ›
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Can Information Be Separated From Intelligence? Part 1

Theoretical biologist Marcello Barbieri finds that many biologists see information in life forms — biological information — as something that “does not really belong to science.”

In 2016, University of Ferrara theoretical biologist Marcello Barbieri wrote a rather interesting open access paper on a key philosophical conflict in biology: Is life only chemistry or is it chemistry plus information? In it, he says that many biologists see information in life forms — biological information — as something that “does not really belong to science.” How did they get there from here? Author of Code Biology: A New Science of Life (Springer, 2015), Barbieri offers a history, a critique, and a proposed solution. In this three-part series, I will look at all three elements. First, the history. Molecular biology understands genes as transferring linear sequences of information to proteins that carry out instructions. That’s information as it Read More ›

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The Role of Information Theory in Medicine

Jay Richards interviews Matt Scholz, Founder & CEO of Oisín Biotechnologies about the challenges and promises of the information theory of biotech

Jay Richards interviews Matt Scholz, Founder & CEO of Oisín Biotechnologies about the challenges and promises of the information theory of biotech. Besides the regulatory environment, Scholz believes that one of the biggest impediments to breakthroughs in medicine is the ability to empower the patient. Strangely, the one person who has no say in healthcare is the patient who ought to be “the arbiter of what goes into their body and not just be subject to the whims of the system.” Matthew Scholz is Immusoft’s founder and served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer from 2009 through 2017. Immusoft’s inflection point as a company came when Matthew conceived how a research system developed by Nobel Laureate and former President of Read More ›

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Minecraft: A World of Information

The world's bestselling video game captures the insight that information is created and consumed by human minds

What if I told you intelligent design theory is responsible for the most successful computer game of all time? This game is Minecraft. It has sold over 238 million copies, the highest selling game of all time.  What makes the game even more extraordinary is it was created entirely by one man, Markus Persson, over a weekend, who then later sold the game to Microsoft for $2.5 billion dollars. Hard to make this sort of thing up. How does Minecraft work? You can think of Minecraft like a computer game form of Legos, the popular building block toy, with added monsters.  You are dropped into an algorithmically generated world where you have to discover resources, find food, and build structures to survive the Read More ›

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Why We Should Not Trust Chatbots As Sources of Information

A linguist and an information theorist say that chatbots lack any awareness of the information they provide — and that matters

Linguist Emily M. Bender and information theorist Chirag Shah, both of the University of Washington, have a message for those who think that the chatbot they are talking to is morphing into a real person: No. Not only that but there are good reasons to be very cautious about trusting chatbots as sources of information, all the more so because they sound so natural and friendly. First, decades of science fiction, the authors point out, have taught us to expect computer scientists to develop a machine like that: However, we must not mistake a convenient plot device — a means to ensure that characters always have the information the writer needs them to have — for a roadmap to how Read More ›

3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

Science Isn’t Even Possible Apart From Non-Material Consciousness

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder tries hard to argue against that conclusion but things do not go well…

A couple of days ago, we were looking at the way theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder grapples with the way quantum mechanics has undermined materialism. Whether and how we choose to measure something has a big impact, which makes consciousness very difficult to just explain away. Here is her most helpful video on the topic (all the more helpful, one might say, because she is so clearly unhappy with the outcome!): “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) Nobelist Eugene Wigner (1902–1995) was one of the physicists who explored the problem. Hossenfelder points to his famous “Wigner’s friend experiment.” (3:01). Here is an illustration from a different source: Essentially, as Wigner pointed out in 1961, a basic building block of Read More ›


Is Information the Future of Medicine and Biology?

University of Washington’s Georg Seelig wants to “design molecules” and “write genetic information”

At a Thursday afternoon panel at COSM 2022, pioneers in biology had a chance to talk to the public about the code that is written into our genomes. First up was Georg Seelig, a Swiss synthetic biologist and researcher at the Paul Allen School of Computer Science at the University of Washington (UW). He described his bioengineering research as aiming to learn “to read and write the language of the genome,” which is a “sort of a code” written in a “language.” Popular wisdom might hold that we have fully deciphered this language — and Seelig acknowledges that “over the last few decades, we’ve really learned a lot about the syntax of this language.” But he explains there’s still much Read More ›

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Bacterial Growth Patterns Can Spell Out Our Inmost Thoughts

Crazy? No. Researchers reduced them to an alphabet and you can test it for yourself

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have created an encoder/decoder using bacterial growth patterns. Because such growth patterns tend to be regular, they can be reduced to an encoding scheme they call “emorfi”: The encoding is not one-to-one, as the final simulated pattern corresponding to each letter is not exactly the same every time. However, the researchers discovered that a machine learning program could learn to distinguish between them to recognize the letter intended. Ken Kingery, Duke University, “An AI message decoder based on bacterial growth patterns” at Phys.org (September 23, 2022) The paper requires a fee or subscription. Go here to see how it works and test it yourself. We tried it with “Bacterial growth patterns can spell out your Read More ›