III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet, Incubator Lifescape
1. A CoCreative Participatory UniVerse
This 2017 subsection grew out of the Quantum Cosmology and Information Computation sections as it became evident that along with Complex System features this foundational realm also has a distinct informational quality. While intimated in the 1980s and 1990s by the sage physicist John Archibald Wheeler, Rolf Landauer, David Deutsch, and others, initial 21st century perceptions were of two kinds. The 2000 work Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Michael Nielsen and Isaac Chuang was mainly about mechanics, qubits, Shannon communications and so on. This school continues apace with volumes such as Quantum Computer Science by David Mermin (2007) and Quantum Information Theory by Mark Wilde (2nd ed. 2017) to advance this field.
2016 Physics of the Observer. www.fqxi.org/grants/large/awardees/list. This is the site for the Fundamental Questions Institute’s latest funding of topical subjects with regard to the ultimate nature of reality and our human presence. FQXi is directed by Max Tegmark at MIT, and endowed by the Templeton Foundation. Some awards are James Crutchfield for Information Thermodynamics of the Observer, Christopher Fuchs and Christopher Timpson on Does Participatory Realism Make Sense?, David Wolpert – Observers as Self-Maintaining Non-Equilibrium Systems, and Accommodating Observers in Fundamental Physics by Sara Walker and Chiara Marletto, whose abstract follows a project summary.
The current request for proposals targets research on Physics of the Observer, both in physics and also in related fields including cosmology, astrophysics, philosophy of physics, complex systems, biophysics, neuroscience, computer science, and mathematics. Many problems in physics and cosmology implicitly or explicitly include an observer. But an understandable tendency within physics to focus on objective phenomena and eschew subjective considerations has led to a general avoidance of discussing exactly what an observer is. While the term "observer" is used frequently in physics and cosmology, it is thus often with the idea that its real meaning is unimportant and "any definition will do". Hence, it is a ripe problem for programs that can be serious and respectable yet foundational and daring.
FQXi Essay Contest 2016. http://fqxi.org/community/essay/rules. The Foundational Questions Institute, conceived and run at MIT by Max Tegmark and funded by the Templeton Foundation, has for some years conducted this popular feature. Prior and present entries are available in full from the home page. A number of books have resulted, search Aguirre, Merala. The topic this time is: Wandering Towards a Goal: How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions?, see below. In April 2017 one can click on Essays to access over a hundred. For example, we note World without World: Observer-Dependent Physics by the University of Sydney philosopher Dean Rickles, which cites J. A. Wheeler’s participatory universe model as an answer. Other entries are by George Ellis, Simon DeDeo, Marc Sequin, Mama Promise, George Rajna, Sean Carroll, and Sara Imari Walker, among a multitude.
This year’s theme is: Wandering Towards a Goal – How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions? One way to think of physics is as a set of mathematical laws of dynamics. But many phenomena admit another description – sometimes a vastly more useful one – in terms of long-term, large-scale goals, aims, and intentions. Many-body systems can seem hopelessly complex when looked at in terms of their constituents' detailed dynamic motions, but neatly elegant when viewed as attempting to minimize energy or maximize entropy. Living systems efficiently organize their simplest components with the intricate aims of survival, reproduction, and other biological ends; and intelligent systems can employ a panoply of physical effects to accomplish many flexibly chosen goals. How does this work? How do goal-oriented systems arise, and how do they exist and function in a world that we can describe in terms of goal-free mathematical evolution?
It from Bit or Bit from It. www.fqxi.org/community/essay. An announcement by the Templeton Foundation project “Fundamental Questions Institute” (FQXi), directed by MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark, for its 2013 essay contest. By the turn of 2014, on this web page can be found the several winning papers. The above title comes from John Archibald Wheeler’s famous phrase, and invites thought pieces about the role of such an ultimate program-like quality in a self-developing universe that seems require, in order to come into full being, its own sentient recognition by phenomenal observers like us.
The past century in fundamental physics has shown a steady progression away from thinking about physics, at its deepest level, as a description of material objects and their interactions, and towards physics as a description of the evolution of information about and in the physical world. Moreover, recent years have shown an explosion of interest at the nexus of physics and information, driven by the "information age" in which we live, and more importantly by developments in quantum information theory and computer science. We must ask the question, though, is information truly fundamental or not? Can we realize John Wheeler’s dream, or is it unattainable?
Aerts, Diederik and Massimiliano de Bianchi. The Nature of Time and Motion in Relativistic Operationall Reality. arXiv:2307.04764. Free University of Brussels interdisciplinary polyscholars post a latest appraisal which, beyond an internal density, translates into a frontier observance of a true participatory universe which involves and needs human contributions.
We argue that the construction of spacetime is a personal act by each observer, which requires both discovery and creation. In our approach, reality remains dynamic, with free choice playing a central role. We also observe that the four-dimensional motion in Minkowski space can be better understood if placed in the broader perspective of quantum mechanics, This hypothesis is reinforced by noting that when observers, or experiencers, as they will be referred to in this article, are described by acknowledging their cognitive nature as entities moving in a semantic space, a Minkowski metric emerges in a natural way. (Abstract first and last sentences)
Aguirre, Anthony, et al, eds. It From Bit or Bit From It?: On Physics and Information. Berlin: Springer, 2015. A collection of 2013 essay winners to this exploration of John Archibald Wheeler’s phrase for a self-activating universe by way of knowledgeable observers as ourselves. First prize went to Matthew Leifer for It from Bit and the Quantum Probability Rule, and seconds to Angelo Bassi, et al for Information and the Foundations of Quantum Theory and Relative Information at the Foundation of Physics by Carl Rovelli (search). Other notables could be Information-Based Physics by Kevin Knuth, and Contextuality: Wheeler’s Universal Regulating Principle by Ian Durham. See also Questioning the Foundations of Physics, a 2012 collection (Aguirre) where again an informational quality becomes the ultimate source and conveyance from universe to human.
Ariswalla, Xerxes, et al.. Pregeometry, Formal Language and Constructivist Foundations of Physics. arXiv:2311.03973. XA, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Hatem Elshatlawy, Aachen University, Germany and Dean Rickles, University of Sydney, consider how a latter meld of Gottfried Leibniz, Alan Turing, John Wheeler and Stephen Wolfram and a nod to Galileo, could give credence to, inform and parse the actual presence of nature’s implicate textual and/or program-like essence. Since its content goes into musings about formal languages, coherentism, and more, longer quotes are added. See also Ruliology: Linking Computation, Observers and Physical Law by this team at 2308.16068. Our take is that this current year seems to be defined by many novel language and program-based versions, which seem to be lately joining with each other. As an attempt to integrate Wheeler and Wolfram, this paper seeks to explore and exercise such foundational realms. See also, for example, BEND: Benchmarking DNA Language Models on biologically meaningful tasks by Frederikke Isa Marin, et al at 2311.12570.
How does one formalize the structures necessary for the foundations of physics? This work is an endeavor toward a metaphysics of pregeometric structures since recent notions of quantum geometry may add a new dimension. We discuss relevant philosophies due to Leibniz, Wheeler, as well as modern topos theory and more. We note evidence of a formal language as a conceptual basis. Our approach is to be seen as a constructivist view, whereof syntactic types realize proofs and programs. This perspective addresses the crucial issue of how spatiality may be realized in ways that link computation to physics, such as the Wolfram model. (Excerpt)
Asano, Masanari, et al. Quantum Information Biology: From Information Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics to Applications in Molecular Biology and Cognitive Psychology. arXiv:1503.02515. As an example of the current revolution to join life’s natural genesis with this physical foundation, an international team from Japan and Sweden waxes over how well this deepest informative source can be readily and beneficially integrated with and applied to evolution and intelligence. See also a book length version Quantum Adaptivity in Biology: From Genetics to Cognition by most of the same team (Springer, April, 2015).
We discuss foundational issues of quantum information biology (QIB) -- one of the most successful applications of the quantum formalism outside of physics. QIB provides a multi-scale model of information processing in bio-systems: from proteins and cells to cognitive and social systems. This theory has to be sharply distinguished from "traditional quantum biophysics". The latter is about quantum bio-physical processes, e.g., in cells or brains. QIB models the dynamics of information states of bio-systems. It is based on the quantum-like paradigm: complex bio-systems process information in accordance with the laws of quantum information and probability. This paradigm is supported by plenty of statistical bio-data collected at all scales, from molecular biology and genetics/epigenetics to cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. We argue that the information interpretation of quantum mechanics (its various forms were elaborated by Zeilinger and Brukner, Fuchs and Mermin, and D' Ariano) is the most natural interpretation of QIB. We also point out that QBIsm (Quantum Bayesianism) can serve to find a proper interpretation of bio-quantum probabilities. Biologically QIB is based on two principles: a) adaptivity; b) openness (bio-systems are fundamentally open). These principles are mathematically represented in the framework of a novel formalism -- quantum adaptive dynamics which, in particular, contains the standard theory of open quantum systems as a special case of adaptivity (to environment). (Abstract)
Quantum Information as a General Paradigm.
Foundations of Physics.
The Pontifical Gregorian University physicist philosopher (search) achieves a prescient statement of this welling, historic revision of the essence of substantial materiality.
Quantum–mechanical systems may be understood in terms of information. When they interact, they modify the information they carry or represent in two, and only two, ways: by selecting a part of the initial amount of (potential) information and by sharing information with other systems. As a consequence, quantum systems are informationally shielded. These features are shown to be general features of nature. In particular, it is shown that matter arises from quantum–mechanical processes through the constitution of larger ensembles that share some information while living organisms make use of a special form of information selection. (Abstract, 787)
Bawden, David, et al. “Potentialities or Possibilities:” Towards Quantum Information Science.. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST). Online June, 2014. The City University London, Centre for Information Science, scholar continues his project to broaden appreciations of our distinguishing capacity for knowledge and conversation by finding occasions and roots for it in such substantial physics domains.
The use of quantum concepts and formalisms in the information sciences is assessed through an analysis of published literature. Five categories are identified: use of loose analogies and metaphors between concepts in quantum physics and library/information science; use of quantum concepts and formalisms in information retrieval; use of quantum concepts and formalisms in studying meaning and concepts; quantum social science, in areas adjacent to information science; and the qualitative application of quantum concepts in the information disciplines. Quantum issues have led to demonstrable progress in information retrieval and semantic modelling, with less clear-cut progress elsewhere. Whether there may be a future “quantum turn” in the information sciences is debated, the implications of such a turn are considered, and a research agenda outlined. (Abstract)
Benioff, Paul. Relation between Observers and Effects of Number Valuation in Science. arXiv:1804.04633. A latest entry by the octogenarian Argonne National Laboratory mathematician (search) which continues his lifetime studies of quantum physical reality so as to distill a natural unification. See also a steady 21st century posting of his papers on the e-print site, along with work on quantum information theory.
This paper is a small step towards the goal of constructing a coherent theory of physics and mathematics together. It is based on two ideas, the localization of mathematical systems in space or space time, and the separation of the concepts of number from number value. The presence of a location dependent number value field affects theoretical descriptions of many physical and geometric quantities. The localization of mathematical systems and the separation of number from number value or meaning both emphasize the role of observers. Nothing, including numbers, has value or meaning to an unconscious observer. It is hoped that this work will lead to a better understanding of the relation between the foundations of mathematics and physics, and the role that observers play in this relation. (Abstract Excerpt)
Bessmertny, Igor, et al. Applying the Bell’s Test to Chinese Texts. Entropy. 22/3, 2020. Hangzho Dianzi University, ITMO University, St. Petersburg, and Beijing Institute of Technology computer scientists propose a parallel between Chinese ideograms and quantum phenomena, suggestive of another way to perceive an innately literate universal reality.
Search engines are able to find documents containing patterns of alphabetic languages such as English. However, Chinese script is highly dependent on context. The problem of Chinese processing is the missing blanks between words, so it is necessary to segment the text to words. As the existing segmentation algorithms are imperfect, we have considered an approach to build the context from all possible n-grams surrounding words. This paper proposes a quantum-inspired method to rank Chinese text documents which uses Bell’s test to measure the entanglement of two words within the context. The contexts of words are built using the hyperspace analogue to language (HAL) algorithm. (Abstract)
Bynum, Terrell Ward. Ethics, Information, and Our “It-from-Bit” Universe. arXiv:1802.02029. The Southern Connecticut State University metaphilosopher (search) continues his project to bring Norbert Weiner and John A. Wheeler’s intimations of nature’s physical, algorithmic, textual and personal essence, along with other views, into these later 2010s. Novel expansions include quantum information theories, and an informational emphasis led by Luciano Floridi. As this perception grows stronger, the extant environment might well be appreciated as a “dynamic data structure.” And if one may gloss, a grand narrative or library of cosmos seems alluded which we are invited and summoned to read and continue. See also Bynum’s Informational Metaphysics in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Information (2016).
Using information technology, humans have brought about the Information Revolution, which is changing the world faster and more profoundly than ever before. How is this possible? An answer is suggested by comments of James Moor, regarding Logical Malleability, in his classic paper, What Is Computer Ethics?, 1985. The present essay combines Moor's ideas with the hypothesis that all physical entities, including spacetime and the universe as a whole, are dynamic data structures. To show the usefulness of taking such an approach, in both physics and information ethics, a suggested it from bit model of the universe is briefly sketched, and relevant predictions are offered about the future of computer and information ethics. (Abstract)