Information and Reality is a project whose main objective is to analyze the nature of what we call reality and its relationship with information. The idea that information emerges from physical reality is something that today does not allow discussion, there being innumerable examples that show it in an intuitive way. In fact, computer technology is based on the coding and processing of information on physical structures, which in turn led Richard Feynman to propose the use of quantum structures in what is now known as quantum computing.
From a scientific point of view, the proof that this is so is found in the Landauer’s principle that determines the minimum amount of energy to erase a bit or the Bekenstein bound that establishes the amount of average energy needed to correctly receive a bit through a communication channel and which is a direct consequence of the Shannon-Hartley theorem. In both cases, said energy responds to the expression Eb>=k·T·ln2 where k is the Boltzmann constant and T is the absolute temperature of the medium.
As a consequence of the similarity of the actual processes and their description in terms of information, over time, a new vision has been developed, proposing that information and reality are intimately linked. Perhaps the first reference on this subject is that proposed by Leo Szilard to solve Maxwell’s demon, suggesting that the diminution of the entropy of the system would be compensated by the information acquired by the demon in the process of measurement, causing an increase of its own entropy. But, undoubtedly, the development of information theory has been the main trigger of the philosophical idea that information is the basis of reality, since it establishes an astonishing parallelism between real processes and information. This has made it a recurring theme, reflected in the ideas or opinions raised by a long list of authors, including Steven Weinberg and John A. Wheeler.
In spite of all this, it could be said that today the idea that information and reality are the same thing seems to be nothing more than pure speculation, which in many cases leads to articles and books of exoteric content, to which we will not refer.
However, the fact that mathematics allows to describe the actual processes is a proof of the existence of a nexus between them that, from its origin, has raised the question about the nature of mathematics. Imagine for a moment that, with our current view of things, we find an element of reality that cannot be formally expressed. It would be an extraordinary event!
If we want to inquire about the relationship between reality and information we must go to the basis of its structure, or to the deeper physical reality, since information is currently an emerging entity. This, on the one hand, indicates that reality is structured into functional layers. But the difficulty is that the problem does not accept a direct solution, since our knowledge about the physical nature is partial and does not seem that the situation will change significantly in the near future. Moreover, one can intuit an unreachable physical reality, so this approach to the analysis of the problem does not seem the most appropriate.
Nevertheless, from the analysis of the ideas and opinions on the subject one can observe a certain deformation of the concept of information. This is possibly caused by the genesis of information theory, whose objective was the measurement and reliable transfer of information. In this way, when we refer to information we speak almost exclusively in terms of bits, without realizing that information is not only content but also processing. In this sense algorithmic information theory and computation theory can provide a more precise idea.
For all of the above, the project that is proposed is the analysis of the relationship between information and reality from a formal point of view combining abstract mathematical knowledge of information theory, algorithmic information theory and computation theory with what we define as reality, starting with the most profound physical models, since these would be the fundamental basis of the known reality. The analysis at higher levels of reality may be very illustrative but, as a consequence of how humans perceive reality, this approach may seem more speculative, so it could be an objective when the project will be in a more advanced state.
The idea is to decompose the problem into case studies, materialized in specific articles, in which the reality is analyzed in an abstract way, according to the criteria already mentioned. It is obvious that given the scope of the task, it is most likely a complete failure, but we will have learned something along the way and, above all, we will have used our time in a very demanding and motivating activity.
At the time of writing this presentation had already been written one of the articles, so in what has been expressed previously you could intuit the presence of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems!