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drLagrangian t1_iwq1342 wrote

I think the idea that information has energy comes from calculations involving the entropy of the medium the information is in when the information is there vs when it's not. So a hard drive filled with information would have a mass of M+I, while the hard drive that has been erased would have mass of M.

Am I right?

So it would be subservient to the energy/mass of the medium.

Unless anyone theorized about information existing without a medium... What would that even look like. How would it get there? How would it get out?

Could an advanced tech let you encode your porn onto space itself?


RightHandedAndEvil t1_iwqe8os wrote

But a hard drive that's erased had the same amount of information in it that a "full" one has - it's just information that's not readable/useful to us.


RacerX00 t1_iwqqzka wrote

I mean, not readable/useful is objectively false if we can observe its interaction with galaxies and discern its properties as a result. It's both readable in a sense and useful in explaining the natural world.

That's a representation of the information, just not at the resolution that you find satisfying. Just like a JPEG isn't a direct copy of every pixel and you get a full sense of the picture despite the blending of pixels underneath compared to an uncompressed image, the same is true of dark matter.

JPEGs do a much better job of painting a picture, sure, but dark matters effects on the natural world is still a picture.


RightHandedAndEvil t1_iwqvbq5 wrote

Yes agreed. Was just pushing back against the idea that a "full" hard drive had more information in it than an "empty" one, where full and empty are more about human perception. The actual information content is the same (as you point out).


salbris t1_iwry2dx wrote

I feel like this is a very poetic interpretation of reality but not really accurate. Information isn't really anything but a specific pattern of other things. A thought in our brain isn't a collection of spinless particles it's just the patter of our neurons and their chemical and electrical signals. Same as a JPEG on a harddrive. It's just a collection of electrical (magnetic?) charges in a particular pattern.


ComradeAllison t1_iwssemx wrote

Actually, the term information is a bit misleading, as it carries different meanings to different people. The information being used in this sense is a physical, measurable thing which ties very closely with entropy and even has conservation laws associated with it.


rucksackmac t1_iwsxayq wrote

Oof. Now we're tiptoeing into an ontological realm of the mind-body question, the hard problem, and other philosophical conundrums.

Careful with that word "just". How exactly is that thought "just" anything? What are the coordinates of these neurons, which synapses fire each time when I think "blue." Is it different than the word? Or the color? Or the idea of the color? What is the thing that it feels like to be?

Comparing our brain to a jpeg on a hard drive is far from accurate, and not very poetic either I might add. :P


salbris t1_iwt5yv5 wrote

I don't need to know the exact coordinates of every air molecule to know the wind is blowing and that it's an emergent property of the weather and the microscopic forces of temperature and the movement of atoms. The brain is no more magical. We don't yet understand the patterns and and systems of the mind but they are basically as simple as some data stored on a harddrive. The only major difference is the process by which memory is constructed. It's not likely to be a singular thing like a file on a computer is.


House13Games t1_iwtoz81 wrote

Since we dont actually know how it works, saying its basically as simple as some data stored on a hard drive is rather speculative.

Some theories suggest that the operation of neurons depends on quantum effects. And quantum stuff is influenced by the observer, so it potentially could get a bit tangled. Personally I think these tangled systems are most interesting, and that by reducing the brain to a classical computer type device, we miss the more interesting possibilities for how consciousness and awareness (information) might be some fundamental aspect of reality rather than an emergent property of it. Eastern mysticism has for a long time said that consciousness and an external reality arise simultaneously, and are intrinsically linked. To me at least, it seems western science is only starting to describe the same thing, albeit from the reality side of this duality, where eastern thought took it from the consciousness side. But both suggest that both sides are somehow intertwined and co-dependent.

For example, the idea of consciousness being the thing which divides a cosmic oneness into dichotomies (true/false, this/that, real/unreal, etc) is strikingly similar to quantum probabilities being collapsed by the actions of an observer. So striking in fact that I find it hard to believe it's not the same underlying thing simply being described in multiple ways.


rucksackmac t1_ixcii2r wrote

I said nothing of magic, friend. Why would you hand wave away great fields of thought and discovery as "magic?" That doesn't sound very sciencey!

The "computer" metaphor, so to speak, has been long outdated, and widely understood by neuroscientists as a pointless comparison.

If you're open to some light reading, these are pretty good eli15 places to start.

Calling our brain a computer is "just" a cliche that people have come to purport as hard truth and fact because the brain is so difficult to understand, while transistors sending signals in a CPU is not.

It's easier to tie it up in a neat bow and say "oh there it is. Done." But I don't see any Bladerunner level robots running around, and there's good reason for it. If we ever hope to achieve such a feat, we have to accept that the brain is still an incredible mystery, and our colloquial comparisons to my laptop or even some kind of marketing AI or digital art ai is simply not comparable by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm just some Redditor, read up on the matter because if you're open to expanding your understanding I actually think you'll find it quite interesting. Personally it only makes me further curious about what AI could look like 1000 years from now and what we might need to get there.


themonkeymoo t1_iwssp8m wrote

It doesn't, though. At least, it doesn't for entropic and quantum definitions of "information", which are the only ones that matter in this context.


House13Games t1_iwto1iw wrote

Not really. It has the same amount of bits, but different organizations of bits have more or less informational entropy. You can randomize the bits, for very low amount of information. You can set them all to 0, which is more ordered, and so contains more information than the random sequence. Or you can have files and folders, which contains a gigantic amount more structure and patterns of information, on many different levels. This concept is important in cryptography for example, where you can take a random looking string of letters, and calculate the entropy of it, to determine whether it contains less or more information, ie, work out if it is actually a random sequence, or if it is a coherent message in a natural language like english, even if you cant yet work out what the message actually is.


Twoducktuesdays t1_iwq1l6a wrote

But are m and i different things? Isn’t m+i simply m with changes.


drLagrangian t1_iwq745u wrote

The mass information theory says that information itself has energy, which means it also has mass. So those changes imply the mass of the information.

But I don't know if the mass of the information can exist on its own or if it needs another mass to act on. Sort of like how an electron in a higher orbital has more mass than a lower energy electron because it has more energy in it. But that energy associated with the excited electron can't exist on its own unless it is emitted as a photon... Where it becomes a different form of energy.


Chimalez t1_iwq4h91 wrote

Yeah he specified he meant the mass would be "m + i" implying "m" is the mass of the unfilled hard drive's mass and "i" is the information mass, added together you get m-total.


AdSpecialist4523 t1_iwrfg6p wrote

Isn't an "unfilled" hard drive just a hard drive filled with data that doesn't translate to anything usable? Like all 1s or all 0s? Or simply deleting the record that says there's data on it. Adding mass to a battery by charging it makes sense, but I'm having a hard time with the concept of an unfilled hard drive being a thing that can exist.


Chimalez t1_iwq57vy wrote

I think you're absolutely right. It's an interesting thing to think about, where information may actually be relegated to how much energy space itself contains. Maybe it implies the "dark matter" regions are areas where space contains massive amounts of energy which allows "information" to exist there. The "information" we see in dark matter could just be a product of some huge cosmic energy system.


drLagrangian t1_iwq8f1z wrote

I started a thought in another reply. But the question is, can the information exist on its own? Because in the universe we understand, the hard drive has mass, then you add energy to it to record information on it, so that information now has energy associated with it and therefore mass, and you transformed the energy you had into information.

I started an analogy saying that it was like an electron. Add energy to it and it gets excited and has more mass, but that extra mass can't exist that way without the electron - or at least, the mass of the higher energy state can't exist without the electron.

but the electron can emit the energy in the form of a photon, which carries electromagnetic energy. So the question is: can an information carrying object emit the energy of the information in a way that preserves the information? There by producing a "dark energy, informationish particle". Or, can the information carrying object only release the information energy in a way that destroys the information or combines it with something else, like by radiating the information out encoded as light, or dispersing into heat?


Chimalez t1_iwqb7y7 wrote

I actually have a very limited knowledge of photons other than the curious infinitely small mass associated with them, but I'd assume that even infinity can contain information and since photons have a distinct electromagnetic structure, it stands to reason that information can indeed be encoded successfully as long as the medium actually has some form of mass. Can't wait to go to grad school for something very similar to this so I can explain it in detail c:


Fallacy_Spotted t1_iwsf7zm wrote

Information is encoded in the entropy of the system. All 0s and all 1s is the same and gives no usable information. Time is also encoded in entropy. It is our perception of movement along an energy gradient. Information is a point on the line of time and the substance of that line is entropy.