What does the place of information within the cosmos have to do with the life of any one person or with the nature of right and wrong? It changes everything. Information can be viewed as nothing more than an ephemeral artifact of matter, energy, space and time. Or it can be viewed as a component of the universe every bit as real and consequential as the others.
This book shows not only that information is real in its own right, but that the intelligence found in people would not have come into existence if it were not. The most powerful tool and weapon of humans is the information system their minds together comprise. Individuals in all their variety are the way they are because that is the way that together they are most intelligent. From the evolutionary mechanism which generated human intelligence to the affairs of people today, the driving force has always been the role of information in individual lives. The result of their decisions through the distant past has been a kind of intelligence new in the universe.
People together form a functional mental system that is of a higher order of complexity and intelligence than any individual mind could be. Individual minds are designed not to survive alone in a wilderness, but to complement the human information system as a whole. To make the system function, human intelligence and morality necessarily evolved together. People can think together only if they get along. The basic outlines of morality are as fixed and timeless and as rooted in human evolution as the intelligence it evolved with. Each is both cause and product of the other. The intelligence of the human information system as a whole is the central principle of human life.
Acknowledging the reality of information changes forever the divide between secular and religious outlooks. Religions envision the information world by belief in an invisible network of connections between people and the world around them. But these connections exist in hard reality because the existence of information is just as real and provable as the existence of rocks. Dividing reality, by believing that physical things are real and information is not, trivializes the most important aspect of human existence. Once the illusion that information is not real is given up, the basic relationships of life re-assume the kinds of firm definitions that they have always been given by religions.
To live in harmony with the reality of information, each person must find a way to recognize that their own thoughts and feelings, which consist of information, are just as real as any objects they think about. This has always been the essential doorway to reality, opening to a world of enormous intelligence, love and beauty. Reasons to care about other people appear clearly and simply as features of the way things are, endowing every life with a sense of purpose as an indispensable element of the human information system. Together, humans exist to wonder and speculate, create and explore, seek truth and solve the riddles of the universe.