Does information need a physical substrate?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Felix
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Felix » May 16th, 2019, 10:46 pm

"Show an example where "information" might have been transmitted or preserved without a physical substrate, and I'll consider the question as a serious one."

Transfer of information via photon, a subatomic particle that has zero invariant mass, so in effect lacks a physical substrate - and other "spooky action at a distance" quantum mechanical effects have been documented.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Tamminen
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Tamminen » May 17th, 2019, 4:24 am

Felix wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 10:46 pm
"Show an example where "information" might have been transmitted or preserved without a physical substrate, and I'll consider the question as a serious one."

Transfer of information via photon, a subatomic particle that has zero invariant mass, so in effect lacks a physical substrate - and other "spooky action at a distance" quantum mechanical effects have been documented.
Photons, actions at a distance etc. are physical descriptions of the microscopic structure of matter, the pysical substrate of information and consciousness. Which does not necessarily mean a materialistic standpoint.

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Consul
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Consul » May 17th, 2019, 1:12 pm

Felix wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 10:46 pm
Transfer of information via photon, a subatomic particle that has zero invariant mass, so in effect lacks a physical substrate - and other "spooky action at a distance" quantum mechanical effects have been documented.
As for the physical possibility of superluminal information transfer, see:

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics > Superluminal Signaling
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Atla
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Atla » May 17th, 2019, 2:27 pm

Those who built the first computers quickly realized that despite common belief, "information" is just an abstraction.
(Information is either an abstraction of a physical system, or information is another conceptualization of a physical system. Massless particles and entanglement are also physical in this context.)

Unfortunately dualistic thinking is so deeply ingrained, that even many scientists fall into the trap of seeing information as distinct from matter/energy.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Does information need a physical substrate?

Post by Sculptor1 » May 18th, 2019, 1:57 pm

BigBango wrote:
October 6th, 2018, 11:47 pm
I would like to see some opinions on this subject.

The physicalists/materialists would certainly answer this question in the affirmative because everything about reality is physical.

In this thread, I am more interested in what the dual aspect theorists have to say.

If we characterize a living being as having both a physicality and a "mental" nature, a subject that has experiential states, what is the status or character of the information that is "in his mind". Does that information have a physical substrate"?

If I believe that the square root of the sum of two sides of a right triangle is the length of the hypotenuse then what do you believe is the "physical substrate" of that abstraction?

In favor of the materialists is the fact that the 2nd law of thermodynamics seems to be validated by it's correspondence to the flow of information. That is, as entropy increases, information is lost!

In favor of the dual aspect position is the fact that mental abstractions do not seem to be subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

In conclusion one cannot ignore "Plato" the father of philosophy. To Plato the world of abstractions created a shadow world of physicality.
Can you demonstrate any information without a physical substrate?
I'll save you the trouble, You cannot.

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