Reality is Information

“In the beginning was the word.” -John 1:1

“But still, one may be tempted to assume that whenever we ask questions of nature, of the world there outside, there is a reality existing independently of what can be said about it. We will now claim that such a position is void of any meaning. It is obvious that any property or feature of reality “out there” can only be based on information we receive. There cannot be any statement whatsoever about the world or about reality that is not based on such information. It therefore follows that the concept of reality without at least the ability in principle to make statements about it to obtain information about its features is devoid of any possibility of confirmation or proof. This implies that the distinction between information, that is knowledge, and reality is devoid of any meaning. Evidently what we are talking about is again a unification of very different concepts. The reader might realize that unification is one of the main themes of the development of modern science. One of the first unifications was the discovery by Newton that the same laws apply to bodies falling on earth and to the motion of heavenly bodies. Other well known unifications concern the unification of electricity and magnetism by Maxwell or the later unification of electromagnetism and the weak force.

In other words, it is impossible to distinguish operationally in any way reality and information. Therefore, following Occam’s razor, the notion of the two being distinct should not be abandoned, as the assumption of the existence of such a difference does not add anything that could not also be obtained without it. 

Therefore, if we now investigate fundamental elements of information, we automatically investigate fundamental elements of the world. We have already seen earlier that any representation of information is based on bits. Any object is presenting a huge number of bits. If we go to smaller and smaller objects we necessarily arrive at the fact that such objects can be characterized by one bit, two bits, three bits, etc., that is, information is quantized in truth-values of propositions. In view of our proposal that information and reality are basically the same, it follows that reality also has to be quantized. In other words, the quantization in physics is the same as the quantization of information. To conclude, it is worth mentioning that this idea can be turned into a research program developing the structure of quantum physics from first principles.”

–Anton Zeilinger (Physicist), excerpt from “Why the Quantum?”

”This model of material world obeying laws of physics is so successful that soon we forget about our starting point and say that matter is the only reality, and perceptions are only helpful for its description. This assumption is almost as natural (and maybe as false) as our previous assumption that space is only a mathematical tool for the description of matter. But in fact we are substituting reality of our feelings by a successfully working theory of an independently existing material world. And the theory is so successful that we almost never think about its limitations until we must address some really deep issues, which do not fit into our model of reality.”

“Is it not possible that consciousness, like space-time, has its own intrinsic degrees of freedom, and that neglecting these will lead to a description of the universe that is fundamentally incomplete? What if our perceptions are as real (or maybe, in a certain sense, are even more real) than material objects?”

—Andrei Linde, Physicist at Stanford

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