Edward FredkinEd Fredkin has had distinguished careers in academia and in business. He is a pioneer in a group of thinkers who call themselves digital physicists or digital philosophers. They are "pancomputationalists" who believe the universe is a computer. They include Fredkin, Gregory Chaitin, Seth Lloyd, Rudy Rucker, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Stephen Wolfram, and Konrad Zuse. Fredkin's website is titled "digital philosophy." They are extreme reductionist, determinist, and naturalist. They think that biology reduces to chemistry which reduces to physics which reduces to the computation of information. They describe themselves as realist, but their view of the fundamental nature of reality consists of computations and information processing. Information philosophy shows that in the first billions of years of evolution, the universe created information structures, but they were created by purely physical forces, nuclear, electromagnetic, and then gravitational. Material particles were being acted upon, passively reacting, not acting. Information processing did not play a role in their creation or evolution. Active information structures appeared on Earth only with the appearance of living things.
Fredkin on PhysicsMost of these computational thinkers accept the view of mathematical physicists that information is a conserved quantity, just like matter and energy, momentum, angular momentum, spin, etc. But Fredkin has his doubts. He asks "Could physics have a strong law of conservation of information?" and replies "The appearance of a single truly random event is absolutely incompatible with a strong law of conservation of information. A great deal of information is obviously associated with the trajectory of every particle and that information must be conserved. This is a very large issue in DP, yet such issues are seldom considered in conventional physics." Information philosophy shows that in molecular collisions path information is not conserved. It is lost, as Ludwig Boltzmann speculated with his idea of "molecular disorder." It was Einstein who showed in 1916 that the interaction of matter and radiation is random and irreversible, explaining the presence of microscopic irreversibility Fredkin notes that Albert Einstein suspected that fundamental nature might be best described by an "algebraic" theory, because quantum numbers are integers (or half integral). Einstein said "From the quantum phenomena it appears to follow with certainty that a finite system of finite energy can be completely described by a finite set of numbers (quantum numbers). This does not seem to be in accordance with a continuum theory, and must lead to attempts to find a purely algebraic theory for the description of reality." In his 1992 paper "Finite Nature," Fredkin described his two fundamental laws of "physical" information.
1) All information must have a digital means of its representation. 2) An informational process transforms the digital representation of the state of the system into its future state.
ReferencesFredkin's website with essays and articles Fredkin on Wikipedia Normal | Teacher | Scholar