Picking Up the Gauntlet:
Information Destruction/Addition/Creation
in Linguistics/Biology/Neurobiology
(everything other than physics)

Paul Grobstein
Center for Science Information Working Group
15 June 2004

A biologically based information theory would ... require a definition of information which is compatible with the idea of information addition in going between levels of organization, as discussed earlier in this essay, and perhaps a definition which is independent of a known catalogue of possible states, since it is uncertain whether such a catalogue is a priori enumerable for biological systems.

Grobstein, 1988

For physics, see

Boltzmann/Shannon - Entropy is "missing" information:

The Black Hole Problem ... "information loss" in physics
(the origin in the 1990's of the interest of physicists in information)

The Black Hole Information Loss Problem, Warren G. Anderson, 1996

Black Hole Evaporation and Information Loss, Daniel Gottesman, 1997

Information loss, Gabor Kunstatter, 1999

Information loss, Gabor Kunstatter, 2002

The Information Paradox (reversibility), student page, 1998

Physical Laws Collide in a Black Hole Bet, George Johnson, NYTimes, 1998

Black Holes and the Information Paradox, Leonard Susskind, Sci Am, the Edge of Physics, 2003

Information Paradox Solved? If So, Black Holes Are Fuzzballs, SpaceDaily, 4 March 2004

Bottom line:

Fuzzy black holes may (or may not) solve the physicist's problems but, regardless, the concern has exposed a serious problem and potential divide between physics and other sciences: can information be genuinely lost? ie, destroyed in a way that makes it non-recoverable? Are all processes (not only those related to matter/energy but also those related to organized matter/energy) reversible? describable in equations of one to one functions with time as a parameter? Could physicists be missing something because of their faith in the importance of reversibility?
"In the vernacular ..." Bottom line:

The idea of information loss is not anathema in linguistics, biology (extinction), neurobiology. Indeed information loss AND information addition combine to create "new" information, and that compression/expansion cycle is fundamental to biological evolution and "information-processing" in living systems generally. The expansion frequently involves randomness but can occur deterministically. See
How seriously do we take this? How relates to information/energy link?

Reversibility maybe be a characteristic of energy/matter transformations, but is NOT a characteristic of information processing: 5 + 3 = 8 ... TRUE and FALSE = FALSE

Computation CAN be done reversibly, without energy cost

Bottom line:

Laws of matter/energy have different character from laws of information? The latter needs to be consistent with but need not mirror the former.

Reversibility not a characteristic of transformations of "non-random organizations of matter/energy"?

Creation of "new" forms is?

How get irreversible outcomes from locally reversible processes?




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