Information Augmentation (IA) and the Damned Demon!
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of the digital medium is digital record keeping. The method by which digital information is created, processed and stored. In fact, all forms of information technology, from music to painting to writing to the mathematical knots of the Incas, can be thought of as artefacts of digital storage. And of extending the information processing abilities of living, sentient beings.
There may be fundamentally new type of organising principle which emerges from the digital world. That is to couple information to matter and link biology to physics in one coherent framework. Such a framework treats information not as a mere abstraction, but as a physical quantity with the clout to affect the material or particle world.
Life = Matter + Information
How does (inanimate) matter come to breathe, thrive and reproduce?
Matter, which generally denotes all physical substance, is that which occupies space and possesses rest mass. All matter can use energy from physical and chemical resources to organise and re-organise things.
If we wish to understand the essence of life, the really tough question is how a mishmash of chemicals can spontaneously organise itself into complex systems that store information and process it using a mathematical code. The known laws of physics provide no clue as to how chemical hardware can invent its own software. How can molecules create a system which is linked to the fact that the theoretical lower limit on computer energy consumption is due to deleting data, not processing it.
Maxwell's demon is a thought experiment created by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1867 in which he suggested how the Second Law of Thermodynamics might hypothetically be violated. Life, sentience and consciousness are all enigmas. Most strikingly, these organised, self-sustaining complexities seem at first to be at odds with this most sacred law of physics.
Apparently the solution to the problem is rethinking how we understand information. Like life, Maxwell’s imaginary demon does not upend the second law of thermodynamics. As long as information is treated as a physical resource, an additional fuel supply to the material world.