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What is "Information"?

 
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Oct, 2005 11:52 am
rosborne979 wrote:
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"?


How is there anything other than matter/energy constrained by space/time? Their representation in our brain is a physical pattern of neural network linkages, where changing physical arrangements of molecules create electrochemical potentials which can be activated to produce the energy pattern that reflects consciousness of the information.

The physical structure of spacetime (see "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Roger Penrose) is the source of the "laws" that determine the movement and arrangement of the particles of mass/energy it contains (Mass tells spacetime how to curve, spacetime tells mass how to move). Models such as relativity, chaos theory, quantum mechanics and string theory are attempts to understand and explain these underlying laws, but I don't think any of them require additional laws or a non-material aspect for patterns to form or information to exist.

The laws may be quite different in other universes. The value of the constants that specify and control our universe may be the result of some overall law that governs the multiverse (if it exists), randomly determined in the big bang, or they may have evolved concurrently with spacetime.

Of course patterns can be destroyed. Just rearrange the matter/energy into a chaotic form instead of order. When a hard drive is wiped, the only copy of a book is burned, the last dodo is eaten or the tribe's oral historian dies, the information contained in their physical patterns is irretrievably gone.

There is no law that conserves patterns, and as long as entropy increases the universe is happy.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Oct, 2005 12:02 pm
twyvel wrote:
A written word is not a written word until it's interpreted as such. Prior to that it's just black marks on paper, but it's not even that. Whatever we call it that's not it; the name is not the thing described.

A word is a word is a word. "Word" refers to the collection of sounds or other symbols that are used to transmit information from one human being to another. The symbols do not stop being a word while not being actively read, and do not magically "become" a word when a literate person perceives them.
Quote:
You are mistaken in ascribing the source of information to the book. It's like ascribing the source of the taste of lemon to the lemon, when the source of the taste is the brain-sense-organ.

The lemon, not the brain-sense-organ, is the source of the taste. Taste is just a symbol the brain uses to represent the sensory perception of a specific collection of acids and other chemicals. It then compares this information to its memory files and associates the "taste" with prior experiences of "lemon." The lemon must first exist in order for the brain to perceive its taste.
Quote:
Understanding the language has nothing to do with the capacity to create meaning and information with the marks or symbols. Interpreting the symbols as letters of the English language, is just one of many interpretations.

You're right. I understand English, but can create no meaningful information from your words here. How can someone who has no knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet interpret an essay written in Russian?
Quote:
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.

Which is why it is so important to look for context clues when reading, so that you can respond to the writer's intent instead of subverting the discussion into an argument about alternate meanings of the words s/he uses.
0 Replies
 
twyvel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 08:26 am
Terry

-. --- - / --- -. .-.. -.-- / - --- / -.-- --- ..- / .- .--. .--. . .- .-. / - --- / .... --- .-.. -.. / - .... .- - / - .... .. -. --. ... / . -..- .. ... - / .- ... / .--. . .-. -.-. . .. ...- . -.. / .-- .... . -. / -. --- - / .--. . .-. -.-. . .. ...- . -.. / -... ..- - / - .... .- - / -- . .- -. .. -. --. / .. ... / .. -. .... . .-. . -. - / .. -. / --- -... .--- . -.-. - ... / .- -. -.. / . -..- .. ... - ... / .- ... / --- -... ... . .-. ...- . -.. / .-- .... . -. / -. --- - / --- -... ... . .-. ...- . -.. .-.-.- / .. ... / - .... .- - / - .... . / -.-. .- ... . ..--..
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 09:43 am
.. - ---/-.-. . .-. - .- .. -. .-.. -.--/-. --- -/ - .... ./ -.-. .- ... ./ ..-. - .-./- .... ./ --- -... .--- -.-. .../ .- -... ...- ./ :wink:
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 11:15 am
ridiculous! LOL
0 Replies
 
twyvel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 11:17 am
.. -. -.. . . -..
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 03:44 pm
Although I appreciate the philosophical arguments being made here, I'm more interested in exploring the nature of "information" (or pattern), from a naturalistic base, rather than a metaphysical base.

I understand that the "taste" of a lemon is a concept and a perception within the mind, but I would like to treat the fact that the lemon itself *exists* as a given for the purposes of this discussion.

I'm assuming that "information" or "pattern" are actual things which exist in the universe in a measurable way, although I'm not sure yet just how to measure them.

I do not treat "information" or "pattern" as a purely perceptual thing because DNA creates life whether anyone is here to see it and understand it or not. And yet, there is more to DNA than simply the atoms which compose it; it carries a pattern, or information which results in more pattern (or more specifically, life).
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 04:00 pm
To the very fundamental level of information, it would seem that man's ability to accumulate information to use it to advance our knowledge is key. Given that a lemon is a lemon, it depends on how man interprets the fruit through experimentation. Our ability to accumulate information from the very basic to how we are able to utilize a lemon today is the key. It's through our environment, culture, and language skills.

Man will eventually have the knowledge of how DNA works. Man had no knowledge of DNA hundreds of years ago. It's through the accumulation of information that we are now able to see the patterns of DNA with the assistance of language and science.

I'm not so sure if "measurement" of patterns or information is a necessary component to advance our knowledge about specific atoms at this point in time except for E = mc2 in a dynamic world.
0 Replies
 
John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 04:46 pm
cicerone imposter wrote:
To the very fundamental level of information, it would seem that man's ability to accumulate information to use it to advance our knowledge is key. Given that a lemon is a lemon, it depends on how man interprets the fruit through experimentation. Our ability to accumulate information from the very basic to how we are able to utilize a lemon today is the key. It's through our environment, culture, and language skills.

Man will eventually have the knowledge of how DNA works. Man had no knowledge of DNA hundreds of years ago. It's through the accumulation of information that we are now able to see the patterns of DNA with the assistance of language and science.

I'm not so sure if "measurement" of patterns or information is a necessary component to advance our knowledge about specific atoms at this point in time except for E = mc2 in a dynamic world.


Accumulate information? - information is only information when it can be put to use. We do not accumulate information. It vanishes and appears.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2005 05:03 pm
JJ did it the other way round.Which suggests disinformation.(BS for short).
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2014 11:08 am
@Terry,
Terry wrote:
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?

Wasn't it implied Wink
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2014 12:32 pm
@rosborne979,
It seems to me that without defining the terms in question, things get confusing quickly!

If information is to mean: "knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction" http://www.thefreedictionary.com/information then Anton Zeilinger's text as quoted by rosborne979 is rather confusing as per "The fundamental reason why I believe in this is that it is impossible to make an operational distinction between reality and information" as I would then infer Zeilinger to mean that if a person does not have knowledge of a particular set of physical circumstances there can be no reality for that particular set of physical circumstances for that person.

I am also not exactly sure what Zeilinger means by "operational distinction", perhaps he means for all intents and purposes i.e. in every practical sense? If so how can the notion that a person without knowledge of a particular set of physical circumstances not be affected by that particular set of physical circumstances?

For example, there can be no reality for a blind man about to fall off a cliff?

I do understand that Zeilinger is talking about quantum theory but still...
G H
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2014 01:13 pm
@rosborne979,
Quote:
What is "Information"?

Under certain circumstances, a useful way of conceptualizing the activities of physical entities or their patterns; or when more zealously pursued, even encompassing the whole board of everything. Sometimes the latter fervor becomes so great that this abstract system, imaginatively superimposed over the matter / energy environment, is treated as a concrete agency in itself. Accordingly equipped with its own causal powers and outright vying to replace the traditional material components of naturalist beliefs and practices.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2014 07:26 pm
@rosborne979,
You mean to say that the information pattern was dispersed not that information was lost...information cannot be lost. Information on the smallest level represents a state on which the tiniest bit of matter must be.
Information is just the order of things in relation to each other. Without things there is no information.

Second there is nothing "materialistic" in this take as no definition of matter was provided.

Third the order of things has nothing to do with perception or consciousness per se although it is true perception is one instrument to retrieve and reassemble information on which the very agent is an active element that ads information to the information it received thus transforming and adapting elements of that information string accordingly to its needs n focus.

Anything in the Universe be it matter or energy has the ability to be affected by other things and in this sense is a detector of information. Moreover anything has a very specific way in which is affected by other strings of information due to its position direction and speed as its own chemical physical and informational particular nature.

Again Information on the receptor side is constrained by factors like distance position direction speed and so on, thus not all available information from A to B is relevant. For instance visually from an Earth position I have no access to the information on the dark side of the Moon which in turn doesn't mean the information is not there. But lacking specific patterns of information limits my vision of the Moon as a whole.

Information is simply put the order of things and of events.
There is nothing subjective nor mysterious about it...on the contrary there is nothing needing be more precise to information transfers then objectivity !
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jan, 2014 07:43 pm
@Chumly,
Chumly, I have not read this thread yet, but it comes to me that a definition of "information" must be more specific than just "facts." Indeed, for me it seems that information must pertain to the context of some kind of issue. It must be useful with regard to a problem--just as "answers" must relate to some kind of "questions."
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jan, 2014 11:47 pm
@JLNobody,
Its called change, its like news. When a given state transitions to another state you have information. There is no "problem" only problematic people.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jan, 2014 12:23 am
@rosborne979,
I see information as energy. It's the basis of all decisions.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jan, 2014 01:33 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil.
There is the same problem defining "change" as there is in defining "order" (as per the second law of thermodynamics). As JLN has indicated, both of these terms imply a human observer segmenting the world according to his contextual needs. (Heidegger calls this "caring" i.e. that the experience of being always involves a goal directedness described by his neologism "for the sake of") There is no ontologically independent substrate we can call "discrete states of the world". There is only continuous interaction humanistically segmented by words. The word "information" implies aspects of that human interaction process in which decisions are made about conscious human needs. I re-iterate the basic definition of a "BIT" of information as "that which decides a choice between two alternatives". It seems self evident that information involves "choice"which in turn involves cognition.
0 Replies
 
mikeymojo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jan, 2014 08:53 am
Could information be that which makes human consciousness what it is at any given moment? And would it really matter if everything is 'truly' real or not in such a scenerio?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jan, 2014 09:27 am
@mikeymojo,
The answer to that question would partly involve an analysis of the extensive literature on consciousness. The other part would involve an analysis of the term "reality". Both topics are controversial to put it mildly ! For example, at least one eminent biologist/philosopher deflates "consciousness" to an aspect of human language usage and rejects "information" as a useful concept at all outside the field of AI (artificial intelligence).
 

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