Re: Information

From: wilkins (wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU)
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 02:11:07 BST

  • Next message: "Re: Information"

    Received: by id CAA20744 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Thu, 3 May 2001 02:17:18 +0100
    Message-ID: <>
    Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 11:11:07 +1000
    From: wilkins <wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU>
    Organization: The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
    X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.76C-CCK-MCD  (Macintosh; U; PPC)
    X-Accept-Language: en,pdf
    Subject: Re: Information
    References: <3AED8233.15786.6E25AE@localhost>; <> <3AEEB6DE.18806.39FF8D@localhost> <>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    Precedence: bulk

    Robin Faichney wrote:
    > According to Roy Frieden, the laws of physics are generated by the
    > attempt to minimize the difference between an entity or system's own,
    > physical information, and the information that physicists can obtain
    > about it. This account does not get awfully technical, at least as
    > regards physics---we've just gone as deep into Frieden's work as we're
    > going to go---but this distinction he draws is vital: between physical
    > information, which exists for its own sake, and the more usual sort,
    > information that's about something.
    > (From

    It seems to me there are really only four relevant sense of
    "information" here:

    1. the Fisher Information account of measurement that Frieden proposes

    2. The Shannon-Weaver account that makes information of a sequence its
    (prior) probability of being encountered

    3. The Kolmogorov-Chaitin account that makes information the minimal
    message length of a sequence, or the shortest algorithm that can
    generate a sequence, whichever version one prefers; and

    4. the semiotic or intentional account of the Peircians, Meinongians and
    other representationalists.

    So far as memetics is concerned, only the first three are relevant (it
    matters not a whit is the information being transmitted is true,
    coherent or in any way of significance to any audience, so long as it
    spreads through a population).

    If something is a measurement of some state distinct from the observer,
    then that information (ie, the error implicit in the measurement) is a
    physical mapping of what's in the head to what's in the world. However,
    it fails to be memetic information until it is transmitted, and then
    senses 2 and 3 come into play, so we can ignore the two extremes:
    "objective" information in the sense of accuracy of measurement, and
    "subjective" information in terms of what something means within the
    head of a semantically or semiotically capable system (ie, some person)
    and concentrate instead on the dynamics of information transmission and
    the evolution of the signals so transmitted.

    My $0.02

    John Wilkins, Head, Communication Services, The Walter and Eliza Hall 
    Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
    Homo homini aut deus aut lupus - Erasmus of Rotterdam

    =============================================================== 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 archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu May 03 2001 - 02:32:22 BST