Information Is King

The space-time continuum is no longer cutting-edge.

Conservation of mass and energy is old news. We are realizing more and more that information matters--that, in a sense, matter is information.

Matter exists only in the extent to which it has the potential to interact with other matter. This interaction can be described as an information exchange between particles -- Particle A tells Particle B, "I'm here!" and imparts a force on Particle B (momentum is exchanged.)

In more than just physics, information is of the utmost importance. The Google brand is worth over one hundred billion dollars, and this since its founding in 1998, less than twenty years ago. A company younger than I am is one of the most valuable in the world, all due to its creative use of data--of information.

To this point, human history has been marked primarily by the increasing availability of fundamental quantities: Energy and material resources. Now more than ever, it is clear that information is one of these fundamental quantities.

It is not energy or matter that determine what happens next. The second law of thermodynamics is that entropy always increases (when the universe is considered as a whole.) The amount of information in the universe is constantly increasing--and our access to that information, and the ways in which we can examine it, are changing as well.

Intangible though it may seem, information may prove to be the most fundamental way of looking at the universe. The idea that the universe we live in is in some sense a simulation -- that our existence is as digitized as the pixels in an Atari game -- has not been discredited, and sometimes seems the only credible explanation for seemingly arbitrary laws of physics.

What we know is but a fraction of what can be known -- and what can be known is only a fraction of what is. The universe is great and wonderful, but our only guarantee is that it will forever be mysterious to us as individuals. Summarize and simplify all you want -- but realize that your compression is not lossless, and there will always be more data.

1 comment: