Re: Information

Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 22:03:57 BST

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    Subject: Re: Information
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    On 26 Apr 2001, at 10:58, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > 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.
    I might consider 'objective' information (although we can never know
    of such a thing, since all information we apprehend is subjective or
    intersubjective) to be pattern or configuration, and reserve the term
    information for meaningful patterns, which, of course, would require
    someone for them to mean something TO. Representation is by
    definition an 'aboutness' phenomena; what is represented is not
    identical with its representation. It also has to represent its
    referent TO someone to be representation. One could, however,
    make the same or a similar case concerning the terms 'pattern'
    and 'configuration', and claim that all we can possibly say of
    objectivity without reference to an apoprehending subjectivity is that
    it IS, or, in other words, that it exists as brute facticity.
    > > 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.
    Because of the previously mentioned hard problem of subjectifying
    the objective, or vice-versa. The term that information theory uses
    is 'compressibility'. Somethings may be symbolized or
    represented by more compressed maps than others, and this has
    a lot to do with the level of entropy contained in the referent. If
    entropy is total, that is, if pattern is completely absent, no
    compressibility is possible, and in general, the more ordered the
    referent is, the more compressible it is.
    > > 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)
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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