Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2010, Waterloo, Canada, Proceedings of the 54th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

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Information and Living Things

Juan David Arango

Abstract


What is the origin of everything we see around us? What is that which is called life or the fact that there is complex matter “organized” in an improbable physical state and that it perceives its environment in non-physical manner. Rocks can grasp their environment in a physical way and transfer energy from themselves to their environment. This complex organized matter grasps another “world”, as it grasps the environment in an “informational” way, and acquires an awareness of its environment, neither physical nor material, that aids the management of its improbable physical state. This awareness is called information.

Is this informational ability, which allows the complex organized matter to “process” and adapt to its surroundings, what we call life? Many examples in nature support the idea that the ability to “process” and adapt to surroundings is exclusive to those beings called “living.”

Let’s affirm life exists. Let’s also affirm that organized matter, with its informational ability, perceives something non-physical: information. This holds that apart from the physical world, for living beings, there exists a world of information. This world is not matter and exists differently for each one of these living beings. This way (informational ability) of each living thing, creates a compilation of perceptions, particular truth, which is unique to and only exists in the mind of each living being.

The material world, which is comprised of everything that exists, is called general truth, or universe. This general truth limits our informational world and reminds us that to maintain the improbable physical state, optimal use of information is necessary. So matter is universal, its interpretations: multiple. There is at least one for each particular truth.

A particular truth is formed by unique perceptions, which for exposure to other living beings require a specific process: communication. Perceptions of the general truth are complex and humans have generated important concepts (amount, time, color, shape) or tools (language) that allow us to share these perceptions in seemingly universal ways. Communication facilitates the formation of the conventional truth, the truth of groups of living beings that shared and validated their particular truths. Therefore, the world of information has a conventional truth too, made up of perceptions shared through groups of living beings

Each perception in a particular truth contains multiple elements. Each element is a datum (Word, red, round, few, day) which is represented or substituted in the particular truth and communicated, using codes and matter. To form the idea of what we perceive, information, we collect this data and obtain a perception within the conventional truth.

This information, particular truth, unites with other information (if allowed) in the living being, usually biological (directing the behavior of the being), to determine a way to continue this complex matter’s (living being) existence in the material world, the general truth. The ability of this being to combine external and internal information to continue its improbable physical (and/or organized and/or chaotic) state called life, or to end it if so chosen, is the ultimate decision. The decision making process can be peripheral or remote. The peripheral is tactical. It deals with decisions concerning concrete topics, which happened or are likely to occur. The remote is strategic. It deals with decisions concerning abstract ideas, which have not happened and whose occurrence is uncertain.

So, the origin of everything we see around us is our informational ability, a characteristic of living beings (from the informational standpoint, as another question involves the origin of matter itself.) And we can say that what we call life is the ability of complex matter to process information with its informational ability.

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