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Why information grows : The evolution of order, from atoms to economies

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Authors: 
Cesar Hidalgo
Translators: 
Behrouz Shahmoradi
Year: 
2016
ISBN: 
978-964-8041-76-7

The universe is made of energy, matter, and information, but information is what makes the universe interesting. Without information, the universe would be an amorphous soup. It would lack the shapes, structures, aperiodic orders, and fractal arrangements that give the universe both its beauty and its complexity. Yet information is rare. It hides in pockets as it battles the universe’s perennial march to disorder: the growth of entropy. This book is about the growth of information, and about the mechanisms that allow information to battle randomness and grow. These mechanisms include the natural processes that allow information to emerge and the social and economic mechanisms that contribute to the accelerating growth of information in society. This book is about the growth of information - the growth of physical order - that makes our planet unique, rich, and uneven, from atoms to economies. Much of this book will focus on our planet and our species. This is because, from a cosmic perspective, our planet is a special place. We know of many places in our universe that concentrate more matter and energy than the Earth, but not of places that concentrate more information. Neutron stars are so dense that a spoonful of them weighs more than the Empire State Building. Black holes are so massive that they twist the geometry of space. Energy is also extremely abundant in the billions of stars that populate our galaxy, but not so much in our planet. So what makes our planet special is not that it is a singularity of matter or energy, but that it is a singularity of physical order, or information. Our planet is to information what a black hole is to matter and what a star is to energy. Our planet is where information lives, grows, and hides in an otherwise mostly barren universe. But where does information come from? Why is information concentrated in our planet, and how is the growth of information facilitated by life? What are the social and economic mechanisms that enable information to continue growing in society? How does the social accumulation of information improve our capacity to accumulate even more information? And how do the mechanisms that contribute to the growth of information contribute to the social and economic unevenness of the global economy? In the following pages, we will learn what information is, where it comes from, and why it grows. We will learn about the natural, social, and economic mechanisms that help information rebel against entropy. We will learn about the mechanisms that help information win small battles, prevailing stoically in our universe’s only true war: the war between order and disorder; between entropy and information. 

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National Research Institute for Science Policy (NRISP) affiliated to the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, I.R. Iran is a think tank in the fields of science and technology policy-making and research in the country.

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