The conservation of information: Measuring the cost of successful search
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Many spaces that need to be searched in the sciences are too unwieldy for random search to stand any hope of success. Success instead requires a nonrandom search. But how does one find a nonrandom search that stands a good chance of success? Even to pose the question this way suggests that such nonrandom searches do not magically materialize but need themselves to be discovered by a process of search. The question then naturally arises whether such a “search for a search” is any easier than the original search. This paper establishes a conservation of information theorem according to which the information required to find a successful search is always at least as large as the information required to successfully complete the original search. This result shows that information, like money, obeys strict accounting principles, leaves a trail, and can only originate from a prior information source.
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