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Physical existence would be everything that exists in the physical world such as the stone in my garden while the informational existence would be the consciousness and qualia (I don't really know how to relate those two one to each other). My consciousness obviously exists : when I feel pain the pain exists, when I close my eyes and imagine the red color the red qualia exists during the time I think of it and more generally my consciousness exist. We can't say it doesn't exist but we can't say that it exists the same way as the stone in my garden either. It seems that informational existence is generated by physically existing systems that are functioning and have their own internal logic such as the brain. This internal logic must have something very specific to generate informational existence such as consciousness.

So is this distinction relevant, do we have some deeper elaboration on this distinction ? Maybe every physical system is generating some kind of informational existence that is very different from consciousness but that is "existing somwhere" just like consciounsess.

  • You might like Ron Garret's Google Tech Talk The Quantum Conspiracy: What Popularizers of QM Don't Want You to Know. It's named provocatively, but it gets at Quantum Information Theory and what that means for the constitution of the 'person'. – labreuer Oct 1 '14 at 19:44
  • What do you mean by "informational existence"? This is a novel term to me. – virmaior Oct 1 '14 at 23:16
  • Nice video. Unfortunatelty it gets vague and confused in the very short "philosophical implications" part. I guess there is still work to do to make sense of that "quantum information" idea, which is so popular among physicists... – Quentin Ruyant Oct 2 '14 at 9:56
  • U do not see that they are same? Thus there is no distinction between what u call informational and real existence. – Asphir Dom Oct 3 '14 at 1:05
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Physical existence would be everything that exists in the physical world such as the stone in my garden

This would be the common-sense attitude to the world

while the informational existence would be the consciousness and qualia (I don't really know how to relate those two one to each other). My consciousness obviously exists : when I feel pain the pain exists, when I close my eyes and imagine the red color the red qualia exists during the time I think of it and more generally my consciousness exist.

I haven't come across the term 'informational existence'; but I can see what you're driving at.

We can't say it doesn't exist but we can't say that it exists the same way as the stone in my garden either.

We can say at least one is objective, and 'permanent'; the other subjective and temporary. The concept 'real' usually has the attribute or property permanent attached, which allies it with objective (call it the Parmenidian sense - changeless); but we can also attach it to the subjective (call it the Heraclitean sense - changeful).

It seems that informational existence is generated by physically existing systems that are functioning and have their own internal logic such as the brain.

This is the position that mind supervenes on the brain; that it is a kind of epiphenomenon.

This internal logic must have something very specific to generate informational existence such as consciousness. So is this distinction relevant, do we have some deeper elaboration on this distinction?

This distinction is relevant; its usually stated as how does the brain causes mind; so far no serious consensus has formed: its called the hard problem of consciousness - see Chalmers books on the philosophy of mind

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The closest I can think of is dual aspect theories, where "informational" and "physical" would be two distinct aspects of reality. You also have this kind of distinction in continental philosophy, e.g. in Sartre's philosophy, between two modes of existence: "being in itself" (material objects) and "being for itself" (conscious beings). Also, quantum mechanics is sometimes thought of as a theory about information. This would undermine the distinction.

  • Can some of the Hardware in an A.I. System 'cause' a new set of software to 'form' independently from any of the interactions of 'other' software already being used? In other words can Hardware ONLY cause some set of software to form or initialize that is 'new' or a 'novel' combination of other software? If so this would be analogous to brain stuctures ONLY causing some behavioral or idea program in the mind-brain to 'form'. – user128932 Oct 2 '14 at 5:17
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The best current theory of computation, the quantum theory of computation, explains that all finite physical systems can be simulated by a quantum computer operating on a finite number of qubits. The computer can simulate not just the initial and final state but also the causal and structural properties of the states of the system between the initial and final state. If you know about the evolution of a particular physical system you can consider what it is doing as a simulation.

Information is a term for properties of physical systems that can be understood independent of the substrate in which it happens to be instantiated. For example, a controlled not gate takes two bits, flips the second if the first is 1 and performs the identity operation on the second bit if the first is zero. Any physical process that does this is a controlled not gate regardless of the material of which it is composed. There are non-trivial explanations concerning information that can't be derived from other laws of physics.

See http://www.ipod.org.uk/reality/reality_deutsch.pdf

http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.7439

http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.5563

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No. Berkeley's legacy is not dead. All that we know we have are informational inputs.

But we live in a different time, with a distinctly different physics. So Berkeley's perspective is a lot less compelling to us. Berkeley could look at the science of his day and find it consistent with his own mind. Can you really believe that you would evolve the nonsense we are discovering, if you were suspended in an information-only universe?

I mean, most of it is all about everybody being wrong all the time. Then are you really, really crazy? Do you just like defeating yourself? Or do you have to believe there is input from something beyond mere information?

If it is there, how reasonable is it to assume it is entirely illusory. If reasonable, it is still not productive. Curiosity leads us to want to know the illusion in complete detail, even if that is all we have.

So, there is a point to positing the two different worlds, and their incomplete interaction, if only due to a lack of options. We cannot not be curious, and we cannot know anything but what gets through the veil of reality.

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