The thing that keeps the internet going is also the reason for your existence

Dall-E’s interpretation of this article.
Late Surprise @ Budj Bim by cafuego

Magic number three

What’s more incredible than the survival of a single story is the sheer volume of information that oral cultures are able to store and faithfully pass down through the generations. There are, of course, many ways this has and continues to be accomplished, but the commonality is redundancy.

Simple error correction

As you have probably heard before, computers “speak” in 0s and 1s. My name, Chris, is read by a computer as follows.

It’s all just information

Let’s get concrete. Look at all the stuff around you — tables, chairs, computers, walls, doors, your hands, even the invisible air you breathe is made of one thing: atoms. There are only 118 different types of atoms called elements, which you have surely seen on a classroom poster arranged on a table. Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and so on come together to make patterns forming all this stuff in the universe. But, every hydrogen atom is identical, so the only thing distinguishing one atom from another is its relation to all the atoms around it. You — yes, you — are no different from a pile of dirt except for how your atoms are arranged in relation to one another. What makes you you is the information needed to specify these arrangements. You are information.

Evolution on universal scales

Charles Darwin famously suggested that complex life arose through successive changes in the generations of replicating organisms that were subject to competitive selection pressures. This evolution by natural selection can be applied on a cosmic scale through the lens of information and error correction.

Forever error correction

The rock I etched my bit of information onto earlier might last for a long time, but it will not last forever. The natural error correcting properties of solid matter are not robust to every possible source of error, which will eventually accumulate, erasing the information I stored.



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Chris Ferrie

Chris Ferrie

Quantum theorist by day, father by night. Occasionally moonlighting as a author.