Re: Essence Vital (was)Ahumans

From: Dana Hedberg (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 16:09:18 MST

Robert Bradbury wrote:
> On Thu, 20 Jan 2000, Dana Hedberg wrote:
> >
> > "Unique and valuable" to whom? It could be argued that the arrangement of
> > those molecules that make up the Mona Lisa or the Declaration of Independence
> > is no more unique and valuable than the information content of a rock, or
> > more appropriately a person-made rock.
> You are merging distinctly different things. The *essence* of the
> argument is the degree of information content that can be meaningfully
> interpreted by someone with regard to how far it is from random "stuff".
Perhaps I am. Let me give a short scenario: I'm an alien being that has
the M.L., the D.o.I, and an atomic sized IBM marquee. After a physical
analysis for information content of the different objects in terms of
their deviation from "random" stuff, what do you think my conclusion
would be? And second, which object has the most "unique and valuable"
informational content? My point here, is that it is the observer that
determines uniqueness and value of the information comprising an object,
regardless of its actual, physical deviation from random stuff.

Hmm. I wonder if we are really in agreement here, but are somehow
talking past each other. Or, talking about two different things.

> Natural rocks, even in their many possible molecular configurations
> have significantly less information content than the M.L. or D.o.I.
> because to specify the information content of the latter you also
> have to specify (in some way) the information content (perspective?)
> of the creator *and* the individuals who can *interpret* the creation.

But you would have to do this for the person-made rock as well, so I
might argue that at least that portion can fall out of the comparison.
Question: Is the information content of a person-made rock that looks
exactly like a rock that could have been generated au natural have more,
the same, or less informational content than a person-made rock that is
clearly artificial? What about the "uniqueness and value" associated
with both of those types of information?

> The rock's type and distribution of molecules can be described highly
> accurately and there is probably only a very *limited* amount of additional
> information (e.g. the history of its formation) that can be determined
> from that. The M.L./D.o.I. on the other hand can have volumes written
> about what went into them and the impact(s) they have had on other information
> systems.
> Unless you can make an argument that that is true for the rock as
> well, I believe your statement to be inaccurate. (While you could
> "invent" a system in which the person-made Rock did have the value
> of the M.L. or D.o.I., said system doesn't exist currently and as a
> result I would say that the uniqueness and value of the rock is less.)
Let me see if I can summarize here. To you, the criteria for assignation
of "value" to information is the amount it deviates from randomness? (If
I've over simplified, or completely missed the point, please tell me.)
Plus, the amount/type/presence of "intent" behind the generation of said

> It is the degree of separation from simply random organizations
> of molecules (and perhaps the driving power to create new non-random
> molecular organizations) that determines the "value" and "quality".
> That is the entire basis behind extropianism. Random stuff sucks.
> Its simply noise. Non-random stuff, particularly that created with
> some intention behind it (and which may create further intentions
> and non-random stuff) is the alter where we worship (figuratively
> speaking of course... :-))
So, if I created a process that produces random stuff and displayed it
as art which then inspires countless volumes and treatises on the nature
of art, my art objects, etc. that has less(more?) "value and uniqueness"
than a process of deliberate, intentional acts that produce seemingly
random looking art? (Most modern art comes to mind here, for me. Your
mileage may vary, which, incidentally, is kinda my point.)

> From a physics standpoint, you have to argue that the rock has
> greater negentropy than the Mona Lisa. If the rock were created
> to serve as evidence that it came from Mars and demonstrated
> the existence of life on Mars a billion years ago, then I might
> grant the case, but if its trying to pass as an ordinary hunk
> of granite, I would disagree.
> [Scientific Analysis Mode "On".]

[Some fantastic analysis of the informational content of the genome
snipped. This is exactly what I was looking for in a response, btw,
thank you. It's fun to play Devil's Advocate.]

Ok, so what does it say about a culture, their intent, mindset,
technological capabilities, if they make a rock and it looks exactly
like a natural one (down to the atomic level)? Doesn't this then give my
rock more "informational content" (according to what I believe your
position to be) associated with it than the M.L.? Or not, if you count
my rock's apparent non-deviation from "random-looking" stuff. But, I
think "uniqueness and value" could definitely be argued in favor the
M.L.'s "informational content". (Or, maybe not. =)

> I agree with this. The issue is very complicated and but to my
> thinking it is due to the *huge* difference between the
> information content of genomes and minds that is unrecognized
> by most.

Here the case is much more clear, I think. But, do you factor integrated
potential into your equations? Does the high probability of the genome
"naturally" developing into something with a mind bring it closer (in
any way) to being of the same informational content? Same uniqueness and


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