9
   

What is "Information"?

 
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:05 pm
twyvel wrote:
CyracuzIt SeemsTo Someone

As is often the case, we are not on the same page when it comes to the definition of "information." When I talk about "information," I mean something even more basic than what you call "raw sense data":
Quote:
the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects (Merriam-Webster)

You seem to be limiting "information" to the end result of neural processing that I would refer to as meaning or knowledge.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:13 pm
rosborne, It would seem to me that pattern is mass. Without mass, there can be no pattern. That's how I read E = mc2.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:19 pm
rosborne979 wrote:
As Terry pointed out, information (or perhaps "pattern") exists, and has an effect on things whether we observe it or not (evolution of life for example).

Perhaps I should decide whether I'm asking about "information" or "pattern", I'll have to get some definitions to choose from.

The basic question I'm asking is how to quantify that non-material essence which inhabits the Universe that leads to many things (life and awareness to name just a few). I call that thing "information", but maybe I should be calling it just "pattern", but the point of the question remains the same.

I don't know if there is any non-material essence involved. The ability to form patterns seems to be inherent in the physical structure of the universe. As matter/energy clumped together in patterns of increasing complexity, beings evolved who became aware of themselves and the tiny cormer of the universe in which they live. I don't think anything more is required, or could ever be unless the light-speed limit for information transferral was repealed.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:22 pm
rosborne979 wrote:
I simply find it interesting that there exists an aspect of the Universe (pattern or information), which has no mass or energy, and yet affects things in nature (whether we are here to observe it or not). And I wanted to explore that idea.

Oh. You mean the fundamental physical laws that govern everything that happens, which we are trying desperately to discover so we can bend them to our own advantage? Why didn't you say so in the first place?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:26 pm
rosborne, I know this is way over my head, but what do you mean by pattern or information which has no mass or energy? Can you provide an example of what you mean?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:28 pm
Terry wrote:
rosborne979 wrote:
As Terry pointed out, information (or perhaps "pattern") exists, and has an effect on things whether we observe it or not (evolution of life for example).

Perhaps I should decide whether I'm asking about "information" or "pattern", I'll have to get some definitions to choose from.

The basic question I'm asking is how to quantify that non-material essence which inhabits the Universe that leads to many things (life and awareness to name just a few). I call that thing "information", but maybe I should be calling it just "pattern", but the point of the question remains the same.

I don't know if there is any non-material essence involved. The ability to form patterns seems to be inherent in the physical structure of the universe. As matter/energy clumped together in patterns of increasing complexity, beings evolved who became aware of themselves and the tiny cormer of the universe in which they live. I don't think anything more is required, or could ever be unless the light-speed limit for information transferral was repealed.


I wasn't suggesting that there is anything more required.

I simply find it interesting that there is an aspect to the Universe which is not matter or energy or space or time. And it is an aspect which we perceive.

Are there natural laws which govern "pattern" just as there are laws of physics for matter/energy and space/time?

Matter/Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. Does the same law apply to "pattern"?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:37 pm
cicerone imposter wrote:
rosborne, I know this is way over my head, but what do you mean by pattern or information which has no mass or energy? Can you provide an example of what you mean?


If you put a Dandelion in a perfectly sealed container, and then burn the contents to a ashes by exposing it to external heat, the mass inside the container will remain the same, but the contents have changed.

Information (or pattern) has been lost (or reduced).

Some information still remains, in the form of atoms of carbon and other elements, but the information necessary to construct/reproduce a Dandelion has been lost.

Information or Pattern has no mass and it is not energy (or it would have mass), and yet it exists as an identifiable part of the Universe. So what *is* it exactly?

Does that make any sense?

http://www.nps.gov/deva/Graphics/Wildflowers/Dandelion.jpg
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 09:57 pm
What I don't grasp is the fact that without the Dandelion (mass) to begin with, any after the fact information still rquired that Dandelion to exist - even in a vacuum (or perfectly sealed container). The atoms of the dandelion only changed, not eliminated.
0 Replies
 
John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 02:55 am
rosborne979 wrote:
cicerone imposter wrote:
rosborne, I know this is way over my head, but what do you mean by pattern or information which has no mass or energy? Can you provide an example of what you mean?


If you put a Dandelion in a perfectly sealed container, and then burn the contents to a ashes by exposing it to external heat, the mass inside the container will remain the same, but the contents have changed.

Information (or pattern) has been lost (or reduced).

Some information still remains, in the form of atoms of carbon and other elements, but the information necessary to construct/reproduce a Dandelion has been lost.

Information or Pattern has no mass and it is not energy (or it would have mass), and yet it exists as an identifiable part of the Universe. So what *is* it exactly?

Does that make any sense?

http://www.nps.gov/deva/Graphics/Wildflowers/Dandelion.jpg


The example doesn't work. There is as much information in one cube as there is in a billion.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 07:17 am
John Jones wrote:
rosborne979 wrote:
cicerone imposter wrote:
rosborne, I know this is way over my head, but what do you mean by pattern or information which has no mass or energy? Can you provide an example of what you mean?


If you put a Dandelion in a perfectly sealed container, and then burn the contents to a ashes by exposing it to external heat, the mass inside the container will remain the same, but the contents have changed.

Information (or pattern) has been lost (or reduced).

Some information still remains, in the form of atoms of carbon and other elements, but the information necessary to construct/reproduce a Dandelion has been lost.

Information or Pattern has no mass and it is not energy (or it would have mass), and yet it exists as an identifiable part of the Universe. So what *is* it exactly?

Does that make any sense?

http://www.nps.gov/deva/Graphics/Wildflowers/Dandelion.jpg


The example doesn't work. There is as much information in one cube as there is in a billion.


And yet the pile of ashes is no longer a Dandelion. Information has been lost. The example stands.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 07:26 am
cicerone imposter wrote:
What I don't grasp is the fact that without the Dandelion (mass) to begin with, any after the fact information still rquired that Dandelion to exist - even in a vacuum (or perfectly sealed container). The atoms of the dandelion only changed, not eliminated.


I'm not sure what you're asking ci.

The atoms changed, but are still there, and yet pattern has changed, significantly.

I think I really need to get a better definition of "information" and "pattern".
0 Replies
 
twyvel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 10:56 am
Terry

Quote:
The information in books would not be usable to a paramecium, or to someone who did not understand the language. A cat could not interpret the DNA information in a paramecium. My mother is unable to use the information in a computer, but I can and do.
Quote:
As is often the case, we are not on the same page when it comes to the definition of "information." When I talk about "information," I mean something even more basic than what you call "raw sense data":
0 Replies
 
twyvel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 10:59 am
Information


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Information is a word with many meanings depending on context, but is as a rule closely related to such concepts as meaning, knowledge, instruction, communication, representation, and mental stimulus.

Although many people speak of the advent of the information age, the information society, and information technologies, and even though information science and computer science are often in the spotlight, the word "information" is often used without careful consideration of the various meanings it has acquired.
Contents


* 1 Information as a message
o 1.1 Measuring information
* 2 Information as a pattern
* 3 Information as sensory input
* 4 Information as an influence which leads to a transformation
* 5 Information as a property in physics
* 6 Etymology
* 7 References
* 8 See also
* 9 External links


Information as a message

Information is a message, something to be communicated from the sender to the receiver. If information is viewed merely as a message, it does not have to be accurate. It may be a truth or a lie, or just a sound of a kiss. Strangely it may even be a disruptive noise used to inhibit the flow of communication and create misunderstanding. This model assumes a sender and a receiver, and does not attach any significance to the idea that information is something that can be extracted from an environment, e.g., through observation or measurement. Information in this sense is simply any message the sender chooses to create.
[edit]

Measuring information

The view of information as a message came into prominence with the publication in 1948 of an influential paper by Claude Shannon, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication." This paper provides the foundations of information theory and endows the word information not only with a technical meaning but also a measure. If the sending device is equally likely to send any one of a set of N messages, then the preferred measure of "the information produced when one message is chosen from the set" is the base two logarithm of N (This measure is called self-information). In this paper, Shannon continues:

The choice of a logarithmic base corresponds to the choice of a unit for measuring information. If the base 2 is used the resulting units may be called binary digits, or more briefly bits, a word suggested by J. W. Tukey. A device with two stable positions, such as a relay or a flip-flop circuit, can store one bit of information. N such devices can store N bits ... [The Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, p. 379, (July 1948).]

A complementary way of measuring information is provided by Algorithmic information theory. In brief, this measures the information content of a list of symbols based on how predictable they are, or more specifically how easy it is to generate the list. The sequence below would have a very low algorithmic information measurement since it is a very predictable pattern, and as the pattern continues the measurement would not change. Shannon information would give the same information measurement for each symbol, since they are statistically random, and each new symbol would increase the measurement.

123456789101112131415161718192021

Also see: lexicographic information cost
[edit]

Information as a pattern

Information is any represented pattern. This view assumes neither accuracy nor directly communicating parties, but instead assumes a separation between an object and its representation, as well as the involvement of someone capable of understanding this relationship. This view seems therefore to require a conscious mind. Consider the following example: economic statistics represent an economy, however inaccurately. What are commonly referred to as data in computing, statistics, and other fields, are forms of information in this sense. The electro-magnetic patterns in a computer network and connected devices are related to something other than the pattern itself, such as text to be displayed and keyboard input. Signals, signs, and symbols are also in this category. On the other hand, according to semiotics, data is symbols with certain syntax and information is data with a certain semantic. Painting and drawing contain information to the extent that they represent something such as an assortment of objects on a table, a profile, or a landscape. In other words, when a pattern of something is transposed to a pattern of something else, the latter is information. This type of information still assumes some involvement of conscious mind, of either the entity constructing the representation, or the entity interpreting it.

When one constructs a representation of an object, one can selectively extract from the object (sampling) or use a system of signs to replace (encoding), or both. The sampling and encoding result in representation. An example of the former is a "sample" of a product; an example of the latter is "verbal description" of a product. Both contain information of the product, however inaccurate. When one interprets representation, one can predict a broader pattern from a limited number of observations (inference) or understand the relation between patterns of two different things (decoding). One example of the former is to sip a soup to know if it is spoiled; an example of the latter is examining footprints to determine the animal and its condition. In both cases, information sources are not constructed or presented by some "sender" of information. To repeat, information in this sense does not assume direct communication, but it assumes involvement of some conscious mind.

Regardless, information is dependent upon, but usually unrelated to and separate from, the medium or media used to express it. In other words, the position of a theoretical series of bits, or even the output once interpreted by a computer or similar device, is unimportant, except when someone or something is present to interpret the information. Therefore, a quantity of information is totally distinct from its medium.
[edit]

Information as sensory input

Often information is viewed as a type of input to an organism or designed device. Inputs are of two kinds. Some inputs are important to the function of the organism (for example, food) or device (energy) by themselves. In his book Sensory Ecology, Dusenbery called these causal inputs. Other inputs (information) are important only because they are associated with causal inputs and can be used to predict the occurrence of a causal input at a later time (and perhaps another place). Some information is important because of association with other information but eventually there must be a connection to a causal input. In practice, information is usually carried by weak stimuli that must be detected by specialized sensory systems and amplified by energy inputs before they can be functional to the organism or device. For example, light is often a causal input to plants but provides information to animals. The colored light reflected from a flower is too weak to do much photosynthetic work but the visual system of the bee detects it and the bee's nervous system uses the information to guide the bee to the flower, where the bee often finds nectar or pollen, which are causal inputs, serving a nutritional function.

Information is any type of sensory input. When an organism with a nervous system receives an input, it transforms the input into an electrical signal. This is regarded information by some. The idea of representation is still relevant, but in a slightly different manner. That is, while abstract painting does not represent anything concretely, when the viewer sees the painting, it is nevertheless transformed into electrical signals that create a representation of the painting. Defined this way, information does not have to be related to truth, communication, or representation of an object. Entertainment in general is not intended to be informative. Music, the performing arts, amusement parks, works of fiction and so on are thus forms of information in this sense, but they are not forms of information according to the previous definitions above. Consider another example: food supplies both nutrition and taste for those who eat it. If information is equated to sensory input, then nutrition is not information but taste is.
[edit]

Information as an influence which leads to a transformation

Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns. In this sense, there is no need for a conscious mind to perceive, much less appreciate, the pattern. Consider, for example, DNA. The sequence of nucleotides is a pattern that influences the formation and development of an organism without any need for a conscious mind. Systems theory at times seems to refer to information in this sense, assuming information does not necessarily involve any conscious mind, and patterns circulating (due to feedback) in the system can be called information. In other words, it can be said that information in this sense is something potentially perceived as representation, though not created or presented for that purpose.

When Marshall McLuhan speaks of media and their effects on human cultures, he refers to the structure of artifacts that in turn shape our behaviors and mindsets. Also, pheromones are often said to be "information" in this sense.

In 2003, J. D. Bekenstein claimed there is a growing trend in physics to define the physical world as being made of information itself (and thus information is defined in this way).

See the section below on information as a property in physics. (Also see Gregory Bateson.)
[edit]

Information as a property in physics

Main article: Physical information

Information has a well defined meaning in physics. Examples of this include the phenomenon of quantum entanglement where particles can interact without reference to their separation or the speed of light. Information itself cannot travel faster than light even if the information is transmitted indirectly. This could lead to the fact that all attempts at physically observing a particle with an "entangled" relationship to another are slowed down, even though the particles not connected in any other way other than by the information they carry.

Another link is demonstrated by the Maxwell's demon thought experiment. In this experiment, a direct relationship between information and another physical property, entropy, is demonstrated. A consequence is that it is impossible to destroy information without increasing the entropy of a system; in practical terms this often means generating heat. Thus, in the study of logic gates, the theoretical lower bound of thermal energy released by an AND gate is more than for the NOT gate (because information is destroyed in an AND gate and simply converted in an NOT gate). Physical information is of particular importance in the theory of quantum computers.
[edit]

Etymology

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest historical meaning of the word information in English was the act of informing, or giving form or shape to the mind, as in education, instruction, or training. A quote from 1387: "Five books come down from heaven for information of mankind." It was also used for an item of training, e.g. a particular instruction. "Melibee had heard the great skills and reasons of Dame Prudence, and her wise informations and techniques." (1386)

The English word was apparently derived by adding the common "noun of action" ending "-ation" (descended through French from Latin "-tio") to the earlier verb to inform, in the sense of to give form to the mind, to discipline, instruct, teach: "Men so wise should go and inform their kings." (1330) Inform itself comes (via French) from the Latin verb informare, to give form to, to form an idea of. Furthermore, Latin itself already even contained the word informatio meaning concept or idea, but the extent to which this may have influenced the development of the word information in English is unclear.

As a final note, the ancient Greek word for form was eidos, and this word was famously used in a technical philosophical sense by Plato (and later Aristotle) to denote the ideal identity or essence of something (see The Forms).
[edit]

References

* Bekenstein, Jacob D. (2003, August). Information in the holographic universe. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.referencenter.com

[edit]

See also

* Algorithmic information theory
* Classified information
* Fisher information
* Freedom of information
* Information entropy
* Propaganda model
* Free Information Infrastructure
* Information theory
* Information overload
* Information processing
* Information processor
* Information mapping
* Information technology
* Library and Information Science
* Medium
* Observation
* Physical information
* Prediction
* Receiver operating characteristic
* Systems theory and cybernetics
* Satisficing
* The Information highway - A nickname of the Internet, dubbed the greatest source of information.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 11:04 am
But change is a constant, isn't it?
0 Replies
 
John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2005 12:05 pm
twyvel wrote:
Information


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Information is a word with many meanings depending on context, but is as a rule closely related to such concepts as meaning, knowledge, instruction, communication, representation, and mental stimulus.

Although many people speak of the advent of the information age, the information society, and information technologies, and even though information Information is any type of sensory input. When an organism with a nervous system receives an input, it transforms the input into an electrical signal. This is regarded information by some. The idea of representation is still relevant, but in a slightly different manner. That is, while abstract painting does not represent anything concretely, when the viewer sees the painting, it is nevertheless transformed into electrical signals that create a representation of the painting. Defined this way, information does not have to be related to truth, communication, or representation of an object. Entertainment in general is not intended to be informative. Music, the performing arts, amusement parks, works of fiction and so on are thus forms of information in this sense, but they are not forms of information according to the previous definitions above. Consider another example: food supplies both nutrition and taste for those who eat it. If information is equated to sensory input, then nutrition is not information but taste is.
[edit]

Information as an influence which leads to a transformation

Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns. In this sense, there is no need for a conscious mind to perceive, much less appreciate, the pattern. Consider, for example, DNA. The sequence of nucleotides is a pattern that influences the formation and development of an organism without any need for a conscious mind. Information as a property in physics

Main article: Physical information

Information has a well defined meaning in physics. Examples of this include the phenomenon of quantum entanglement where particles can interact without reference to their separation or the speed of light. Information itself cannot travel faster than light even if the information is transmitted indirectly. This could lead to the fact that all attempts at physically observing a particle with an "entangled" relationship to another are slowed down, even though the particles not connected in any other way other than by the information they carry.

Another link is demonstrated by the Maxwell's demon thought experiment. In this experiment, a direct relationship between information and another physical property, entropy, is demonstrated. A consequence is that it is of quantum computers.
[edit]

Etymology

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest historical meaning of the word information in English was the act of informing, or giving form or shape to the mind, as in education, instruction, or training. A quote from 1387: "Five books come down from heaven for information of mankind." It was also used for an item of training, e.g. a particular instruction. "Melibee had heard the great skills and reasons of Dame Prudence, and her wise informations and techniques." (1386)

The English word was apparently derived by adding the common "noun of action" ending "-ation" (descended through French from Latin "-tio") to the earlier verb to inform, in the sense of to give form to the mind, to discipline, instruct, teach: "Men so wise should go and inform their kings." (1330) Inform itself comes (via French) from the Latin verb informare, to give form to, to form an idea of. Furthermore, Latin itself already even contained the word informatio meaning concept or idea, but the extent to which this may have influenced the development of the word information in English is unclear.

As a final note, the ancient Greek word for form was eidos, and this word was famously used in a technical philosophical sense by Plato (and later Aristotle) to denote the ideal identity or essence of something (see The Forms).
[edit]

References

* Bekenstein, Jacob D. (2003, August). Information in the holographic universe. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.referencenter.com

[edit]

See also

* Algorithmic information theory
* Classified information
* Fisher information
* Freedom of information
* Information entropy
* Propaganda model
* Free Information Infrastructure
* Information theory
* Information overload
* Information processing
* Information processor
* Information mapping
* Information technology
* Library and Information Science
* Medium
* Observation
* Physical information
* Prediction
* Receiver operating characteristic
* Systems theory and cybernetics
* Satisficing
* The Information highway - A nickname of the Internet, dubbed the greatest source of information.


My god those definitions were a load of ****. Are we witnessing the birth of a pseudo-science? - propped up by misrepresentation and mis-use of everyday words? These guys are creating a mythical world.

Well I will tell you this mate. I AM NOT FOOLED for a moment. I can see straight through this rubbish and believe you me it stinks. There is barely one sentence in that lot that actually makes sense and if you doubt me ..well... just try and look at it FOR YOURSELF.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Sep, 2005 03:39 am
Information is what things reveal of themselves.
0 Replies
 
John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Sep, 2005 06:58 am
Cyracuz wrote:
Information is what things reveal of themselves.


What does THAT mean?
Are you saying that I must 'reveal' myself to exist? Or that I must 'reveal' myself if I want to be information?
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Oct, 2005 06:43 am
I am thinking of objects. Any kind of objects. You can only know of an apple what the apple reveals of itself, and nothing more. By being in this world all things in it have information about themselves, it is part of this world's attributes.

You do not have to do anything to exist John, but since you have revealed yourself on these forums, I am aware of your existence, for wich I thank you. Were you to stay down in your basement all your life I'd never know of you and your strange ideas. :wink:
0 Replies
 
John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Oct, 2005 12:51 pm
Cyracuz wrote:
I am thinking of objects. Any kind of objects. You can only know of an apple what the apple reveals of itself, and nothing more. By being in this world all things in it have information about themselves, it is part of this world's attributes.

You do not have to do anything to exist John, but since you have revealed yourself on these forums, I am aware of your existence, for wich I thank you. Were you to stay down in your basement all your life I'd never know of you and your strange ideas. :wink:


If you propose that an apple reveals itself to us through what we perceive of it, then I am looking at the evolution of meaning of the term 'apple', and not finding out what an apple 'really' is. And the meaning of the term apple is equally useful at whatever stage of evolution of meaning we stop at. But you can't propose an unknown apple hiding behind the one we see.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Oct, 2005 06:46 am
I don't know. Remove it and find out...

Things are very simple as far as I am concerned. I see an apple. (Information recieved from the object by way of my senses labels it 'apple'). I notice that the skin of it isn't quite red, the apple is not ripe. Yet the skin is not fresh, the apple is clearly drying up. So, the apple told me about itself; it was picked before it was ripe, and that was some time ago. (We see that the apple's information is the history of the apple, it's environment and me.) All information is active here, assembled so that the apple is the center of attention.
0 Replies
 
 

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