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What is the most basic form of information?

  1. Jan 8, 2010 #1
    As many of you may be well aware, there is a rare condition known as "phantom limb." For those of you that don't, it's when a recent amputee still physically feels the sensation (usually in the form of discomfort or pain) of still having the limb. The perceived sensation is very often directly related to the way in which the limb was lost (doctor amputation, accident, etc.)

    This implies that the nerves were not necessarily the result of sensation in the first place. The brain has begun receiving information from a new set of neurons and interpreting the stimulus as though it were received by the original set of neurons. The logical brain can see there is no limb, but the rest of the brain creates the limb and gives it full sensations of movement, pain, interaction, etc.

    Now, think of the brain itself... or perhaps for clarification, not the organic structure... but the function. The mind or the state of consciousness (I'm hesitant to use these words because they have transcendental stigmas attached to them, but let me attempt to redefine them as "the result of processing and interpreting quantum information".) The brain itself resides, tucked away in the dark and isolated housing of the skull. The brain has never touched a table or actually been hit by the photons emitted from a nearby light source, it never in essence even experienced these things in their true form. All the brain has done is to interpret an electrical representation of an arbitrary impulse conjured up by a nerve cell somewhere. In essence, the brain (or mind) has created what it thinks a table feels like, or what the color red looks like.

    The implications this has is that there are not actually a table or photons as we know them... but simply information. Information that exists on some level and is interpreted by the mind and essentially "projected" or "fabricated" to form our "virtual" environment. I have been fascinated with the idea of many scientist comparing the universe to a massive quantum computer in the fact that information is always created and never destroyed... even in entropy information is still created. When energy becomes unusable in entropy, information still increases about the system because the system has become more complex in the sense that it has processed multiple state changes. The universe itself is computing it's own existence, and we are interpreting a part of it. We do not see x-rays or hear incredibly high-pitched frequencies... yet they are out there. We only perceive a small fraction of the information.

    What could be the source of this information? What is the true nature of the universe? How can you actually differ "reality" from that of a vivid dream without using the idea of being asleep? Biologically both can affect you, and you have real emotions and experiences while sleeping because the mind is creating the reality. If we exist because our mind is creating perception... do we even exist at all in the traditional sense? Or do we exist as some interpretation of quantum information?
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2010 #2
    This reminds me very much of Kant's contrast of phenomenon with noumenon, or, for that matter, Zen Buddhism.

    IMO: We can't know for sure. Objectivity is subjective. QM was made by man, a self-evident fact--and these questions are transcendental.
  4. Jan 9, 2010 #3


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    I think the answer is persistence, as supported by the environment.

    Phantom limb phenomena are usually transient. As I see it, it's just an inertia of the brain - it somehow takes while until the brain has revised it's "image of reality".

    Objective reality, as opposed to subjective views are persistent as the feedback from the environment on the subjects actions based on it's subjective view, is in consistenecy or in equilibrium with it.

    This feeback should cause give the brain negative/destructive feedback on the phantom limb so that it's ultimately removed. The brain will ultimately see that the phantom limb is not constructive, so it's lost in order to stay fit in competition. Those who fail to retrain, and keep using brain resourced to control phanom limbs, would be deselected or outcompeted in darwinian style.

    But this thinking applied to physics, doesn't need to involve "mind". IMO, any subsystem of the physical world can be thought of as a physical information processing device and acts, and evolves somewhat in analogy to the brain, but at a lower complexity level.

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