James Rogers (jamesr@best.com)
Fri, 08 Nov 1996 11:20:15 -0800

>I've never heard of the "Information can not be moved only copied" Theorem
>and I am not totally ignorant in such matters, but if it really exists please
>tell me exactly what it means. Why it is concrete and practical if as you say
>it has nothing to do with "the physical context"? How would our physical
>Universe be the slightest bit different if it were untrue?

The manipulation and usage of information has many concrete and practical
applications, even if information itself has no physical properties.
Information by definition does not have physical properties. This is one of
the reasons it can be encoded on virtually any substrate.

The "Information cannot be moved, only copied" theorem operates under the
assumption that information must be encoded on a substrate to exist.
The theorem basically states that if you have a unique piece of information
encoded on substrate "a", you cannot encode the information on substrate "b"
if the information does not also concurrently exist on "a". If the unique
piece of information was not encoded on a substrate at the time it was to be
encoded on "b", the information would simply not exist, and therefore be
unencodable.

>
> >Another interesting mathematically proven theorem of

> >information science: It is mathematically impossible for
an
> >information agent (such as humans or computers) to prove
that
> >their information is synchronized with that of another
> >information agent.
>
>
>I not sure I know what you mean by "synchronized", but it is true that Godel
>proved in 1930 that any mathematical system with a finite number of axioms
>will be inconsistent or incomplete, some things are just undecideable. For a
>few years after Godel made his discovery it was hoped that we could at least
>identify those undecideable things, that is, statements that were either
>false or true but had no proof. If we could do that then we would know we
>were wasting our time looking for a proof and we could move on to other
>things, but in 1935 Turing proved that sometimes even that was impossible.

This is probably the basis for the theorem. It does directly impact the
development of distributed systems and data replication schemes. A class on
distributed system theory is where I first came across it. Data latency is
the mechanism which generates the instance of this theorem in distributed
systems.

> >Self-awareness allows a block of information to uniquely

> >recognize itself without necessarily having any
differences
> >between itself and it's copies.
>
>
>Huh?? This mechanism finds a difference between 2 blocks of information that
>you admit have no differences! How on earth does it manage to do that?
>What does it even mean?

If you meet a set of identical twins, they know who is who, even if it is
impossible for you to tell the difference. No matter how similar they are,
every consciousness has a unique self identity.

>
> >The monkey might bang out plays, but they would no longer
be
> >Shakespeare's plays because there would be no evidence in

> >the universe that Shakespeare ever wrote a play. They
would
> >be random noise generated by a monkey pounding on a

> >typewriter.
>
>"MacBeth" would never be random noise, even if a monkey produced it.

It would still be random noise, albeit noise with interesting literary
significance to it.

-James Rogers
jamesr@best.com