Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia From: Erik Naggum <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 21:31:39 GMT Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <email@example.com> * Erann Gat | But *bits* aren't "real" in the sense that computers, electricity, cars, | ink, and paper are real. Electrons and silicon atoms are *things*. They | have mass. They obey conservation laws. Bit's are not things. What is a bit? Can you explain what it is? | They do not have mass. Well, is a thought real? Or is it mystical? Is it ideal? Is my idea that bits are real real? Is the expression of that idea real? Which of these have mass? | Put another way (this point has been made before by another poster, but | it bears repeating) there is a fundamental distinction between energy and | information. Nonsense. I politely asked the poster if he could explain the purposes for which this distinction is useful, but you go ahead and say there is a fundamental distinction, and that is simply _wrong_, unphilosophical, and begs the question, which I think you do not realize, but would if you thought about this instead of defending an unsupportable notion. | Energy (or mass) is the stuff that things are made of. Information is | the configuration or the state of the stuff. Does magnetism have mass? Is it "energy"? How about gravitation? Does _distances_ exist? Do distancaes have mass? | People value things. And while I don't have any hard data, I'll wager | long odds that most people assign most of the value of most books to | their information content and not to their physical embodiments. Philosophy meets democracy. What a wonderful way to think! | If you had a choice between having all your books changed to a different | physical format, or retaining the same physical format but translated | into some language you didn't understand, which would you choose? If you had a cube and you could choose between retaining all the edges or all the sides, which would you choose? | What makes computers special is precisely the amount of work (energy) | required to add information content. That amount is vastly less -- many, | many orders of magnitude less -- than for non-computer artifacts, even if | they are fabricated by robots. So again, we have an economy-based ontological ordering. I am amused, frankly. It is so ridiculously obvious that this must be wrong, simply by looking at where _values_ are in the order of things. How can you at all _believe_ in economy as an ontological primary? Even rabid marxists do not actually believe in that, if _they_ still exist. /// -- Norway is now run by a priest from the fundamentalist Christian People's Party, the fifth largest party representing one eighth of the electorate. -- Carrying a Swiss Army pocket knife in Oslo, Norway, is a criminal offense.