Re: Information

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 10:58:35 BST

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    Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 10:58:35 +0100
    Subject: Re: Information
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    In-Reply-To: <003601c0cdfc$a106bd40$f5e3adcb@oemcomputer>; from on Thu, Apr 26, 2001 at 02:57:26PM +1200
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Thu, Apr 26, 2001 at 02:57:26PM +1200, Brent Silby wrote:
    > Hi Robin,
    > I've just checked out your website and enjoyed my visit. You are putting together a very interesting research project, which has an obvious connection to memetics.

    Thanks Brent.

    > With your indulgence, I have a couple of questions... just interested in your thoughts...
    > Question 1: Would you consider the state of a light switch to be an item of information if there were no intelligent observers (or understanders) of the information -- perhaps, say, if life on Earth became extinct? Or do you think information requires understanding in order to be considered information?

    There are two "kinds" of information: physical information is a concept
    that originated in physics and is basically structure, or form. It is
    inversely proportional to entropy, because as entropy rises, structure
    breaks down. In this sense, the state of a light switch is certainly
    information. It needs no observer, being objective in absolute terms,
    unlike, say, a description of something, which can at best be objective
    only in relative terms.

    The other "kind" of information is the intentional sort, which does
    require a mind. This is information that is *about* anything, or
    at least that claims to be (what it's about needn't actually exist).
    This information is subjective, in absolute terms: all descriptions are
    intentional information, even though some are relatively objective.
    Knowledge of the state of the light switch -- or of anything else --
    is of this sort.

    Another way of looking at the subjectivity/objectivity of information
    is to say that physical information is ontologically objective, while
    intentional information may be epistemologically objective, but even then
    can never be absolutely complete and accurate, as physical information
    necessarily is, because the latter is not about anything other than
    itself, and exists only "for it's own sake".

    I'm convinced the answer to the mind/body problem, the "hard problem"
    recently mentioned by Joe, is in the relationship between these two
    types of information.

    > Question 2: Do you think that high quality information can be reduced to large quantities of primitive information? Or is there something about some information quality that cannot be reduced?

    For me, "quality" is not sufficiently well defined to allow such questions
    to be answered. It's not a word I use in my philosophizing.

    > Interesting topic, keep up the good work.

    Thanks again. I intend to.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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