Ming the Mechanic:
Negative Information

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Negative Information2005-08-11 13:00
20 comments
by Flemming Funch

Scientists have apparently figured out that information can be negative. Article here and some news items here or here.
What could negative information possibly mean? In short, after I send you negative information, you will know less. Such strange situations can occur because what it means to know something is very different in the quantum world. In the quantum world, we can know too much, and it is in these situations where one finds negative information. Negative information turns out to be precisely the right amount to cancel the fact that we know too much.

Now, if I didn't know anything else, I might guess that it would be something like this: If somebody had information about my name as "Fxlemyminxg Fxunzch" and I told them to take away the x, y and z's, they'd have the real name. But that's not really what they mean. They don't mean either that it is when people pass around false or confusing information. It is more like this:

Particles in a quantum state are uncertain. If they're isolated from everything else, one doesn't really know anything about them. They have to be observed somehow. So, if you have a quantum particle, and I have the knowledge of its state, then we have some information. We could ask somebody else to come and verify it. But if I give that knowledge to you, and forget about it, assuming that would be possible, then you would have both the thing and the information about it, and it is no longer as certain. Because you could decide that it is just about anything, and nobody could be quite sure what it is. So, there's less information.

Another piece of the idea is quantum entanglement. Two particles might be entangled, even though they're in different places. And then they can know things about each other without having to transfer any pieces of information. So, you can sort of have a credit, so you'll able to know stuff in the future, without any information having to be transferred. Information can just suddenly be there, and to make the information accounting add up, that is as if negative information had been transferred.

I can't say I entirely get that, but, as usual, quantum mechanics provide plenty of material for useful metaphors for daily life.

For us to know something with some certainty, we normally need to be separated from the process by which the object of attention is generated. I can be a knowledgable stamp collector if there's a limited number of agencies that can issue stamps, which can be listed in a book, and if it is kind of difficult to manufacture stamps. If anybody could make the stamps themselves, and nobody could see the difference, then my knowledge of the world's stamps would probably become less. Sufficiently high quality color copiers and printers might subtract information, because I might no longer know what is original and what isn't. A nano replicator would subtract information, because a lot of people suddenly wouldn't be sure what stuff really is, because anybody could make it or change it. Is it a real Van Gogh, or a $5 nano-generated replica? I suddenly don't know.

Might be a solution to information overload. There are potential technologies that suddenly, disruptively, would make it a whole lot less meaningful to keep track of certain kinds of information.


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20 comments

11 Aug 2005 @ 13:30 by Andrius Kulikauskas @193.219.5.40 : zero information
A coincidence - I was thinking today about my files that I was backing up and zipping. It looked like the later backup, which I presumed was bigger, got zipped into a smaller file than the earlier backup did. So I had this idea that it was possible that if a file grows then it may become "more normal" in a sense that lets it be compressed more than it would have. That is because the compression alogrithm probably makes assumptions of what is normal, and if you are weird than it has to suffer for that, go out of its way for that. And if the weirdness is compensated by new information, then it may not be weird anymore, and so everything may become much simpler than it seemed.

This suggests that in information the "base space" is very important in that we keep relying on default information. Maybe default information is like zero information.

Hey, Flemming, I have set up a new site http://www.openleader.net for our network. It has a (static) wiki next to a (dynamic) feed. There is a page for you http://www.openleader.net/?leader=Flemming%20Funch and it will become =FlemmingFunch I need to work on it more but I'm making progress.  



11 Aug 2005 @ 16:40 by ming : Information
One could imagine that there's a certain critical mass in information. You know, if you have enough, things suddenly become very simple, and can be compressed to a very small space. But if you don't have enough, things are complicated. Like, if you have a lot of coordinates for little dots, which take more and more space to store, the more detail you add, until you suddenly realize - ah, it is a sine curve, and I can store the knowledge of it in a very small space.

Cool with the Open Leader site!  



12 Aug 2005 @ 04:14 by astrid : Ming, doesn't
your comment here, somehow relate to this "Out-of-this-World" experience of gaining info, like a whole Eighteenwheeler full in a fraction of a second; some kind of Quantum Insight about something we pondered a little, but never really got to investigate, or collect any material from here or there, or so... but just had this Ponderous Thought... and then all of sudden one day, when doing something totally UN-related, we were being downloaded with this ENORMOUS amount of Vital Info -out of nowhere!
And what about gaining Info through OSMOSIS!??!? This Osmosis 'trick' we knew about in highschool and practised!...for instance we slept with the book under our pillow and -I swear to God,- in a night or two the Info was there, all IN OUR 'HEAD'downloaded as if by Magic. Most probably not "as if" but BY Divine Magic, FOR SURE!...
So much we have NO CLUE about!..., eh?... and quite frankly; do we need to (try to ) Explain Life/God/Universe -or could we just accept it and be appreciative and happy and thankful for it!!!?!?!?... and... just allow Life/God/Universe to be BIGGER than us!... There's a major COMFORTING factor in it...when one sees it that way! : )  



12 Aug 2005 @ 13:34 by ming : Divine entanglement
Hahah, I had to look at the word "Eighteenwheeler" for, like, 10 seconds, thinking it was some kind of German philosophical or mathematical term like "Wanderlust" or "Eigenvalue".

I think it is cool how the fringes of science gets closer to corresponding to stuff we experientially or intuitively can observe.

All the universe is connected, all in one piece in some fashion, I suppose. And sometimes it gets connected a little more. Some part of me might become "entangled" with some other part of the universe, and suddenly I know stuff, without anything needing to be transferred. And I might call it intuition or osmosis or telepathy. Or quantum entanglement. Doesn't really matter what I call it. It is pretty damn cool that we live in a universe where it is possible.  



8 Oct 2005 @ 01:06 by Dave @209.121.101.232 : Quantum Entanglement Illustrated
You, or your readers, might be interested in reading up on how to create entangled photons. It's an article that discusses QE from first principles using pictures, analogies, and best of all ... no math. =)

Quantum Entanglement

Quantum Entanglement Discussion  



8 Oct 2005 @ 02:29 by ming : Entangled photons
Yeah, I'd like to know how to create entangled photons. But the link didn't make it, it seems.  


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