What is the ontological status of information is a really good question. Unlike words like “concepts”, “ideas” and “mind”, information is now well defined in physics and, of course, information theory, which is the basis of the current economic revolution. Shannon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon make a giant step when he tied information to thermodynamics by defining information as negative entropy. So, here are some possible answers on the ontological status of information:

  1. Information is an emergent property of the world. It may have arisen when non-reversible interactions between elementary particles created the “arrow of time” and thermodynamics, with its second law decreeing that entropy (and information) has to increase.
  2. Information, together with matter and energy, is a fundamental and irreducible property of the world. Matter and energy can be converted into each other, so we need to find out how information plays into that. In some formulations of relativity the speed of light sets a limit for the transfer of information. All this point out to information being an essential part of reality.
  3. If matter/energy can be reduced to information, then information may be the ultimate reality. John Archibald Wheeler was a physicist that put forward this idea: “it from bit”. Perhaps some formulations of quantum mechanics will put it into equations.

Any of these solutions represents a better answer to the problem of Plato than the Stoics’. These ideas preserve monism by incorporating information and anything related to it (including concepts, minds and consciousness) into the natural world. We no longer need dualism or Platonism (although the last possibility could be seen as vaguely Platonic). Nor do we need that awkward distinction between reality and existence. Concepts exists because information is as real as matter. Otherwise, we’ll be stupid to pay $0.99 to download a song from iTunes, when the song (which is pure information) does not exist.

As for the issue of whether mind information is the same as not-mind information, I think it is. We can see that with computers: some information is generated by the human mind and then is stored and processed by computers. The separation between information produced by human minds and by computers is becoming fuzzier as we used them more and more for our work.

UCLA professor. Neuroscientist doing research on pain. Writes about science, philosophy, politics and kinky sex. https://sexsciencespirit.blogspot.com/

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