• Zugzwang
    131
    I'm with you on that. Shannon's definition of informatiom as resolution of uncertainty doesn't go into meaning, in that it's deficient.TheMadFool

    To have gone into meaning would have made him another opining poet-philosopher. Imagine sending a stream of bits elsewhere with each bit having a 1/5 chance of flipping along the way. What would you do to counteract that noise? Crude solution: send each bit 9 times in a row. Decode nine-bit blocks by a majority rule. Now what's the chance of losing that bit? It's the chance that 5 or more of the bits are flipped, far smaller than 1/5, but at the cost of 1/9 the speed in transmission. This detail if offered to suggest the flavor of the enterprise. Adding metaphysical blah-blah about 'meaning' would have contaminated it.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    To have gone into meaning would have made him another opining poet-philosopherZugzwang

    There are always divergent vested interests at play. I'm sure mathematicians, physicists, and engineers would have found Shannon's quantification of information more useful. However, this has resulted in much confusion about what information is, and what role it plays in life. There is momentum in the view that everything is information, but because of Shannon's meaningless definition of information, many people are clueless as to what information is.

    Information is not about quantity. Information becomes you!

    This is the relevant consideration in this information age, and even more so moving forward, imo.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    There are always divergent vested interests at play. I'm sure mathematicians, physicists, and engineers would have found Shannon's quantification of information more useful. However, this has resulted in much confusion about what information is, and what role it plays in life.Pop

    Temperamentally I'm in the pragmatist-positivist-instrumentalist camp. I don't deny that metaphysical talk can make people happier or even help genuine science at times. Nevertheless I can't help but object to 'everything is information.' If everything is, then nothing is (a difference that makes no difference.)

    but because of Shannon's meaningless definition of information, many people are clueless as to what information is.Pop

    If that's the case (and I think it is), it's because info theory isn't sexy to those who aren't technically minded. Error correcting codes appeal to chess players, code golfers, etc. The precision is the appeal. It isn't smoke and hype. Currently I don't see how 'meaningful' uses of information are more than 'feel good' coats of verbal paint on the same old practical reality.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    Nevertheless I can't help but object to 'everything is information.' If everything is, then nothing is (a difference that makes no difference.)Zugzwang

    No that does not follow, imo. You will have to contend with a growing realization that everything is information.

    it's because info theory isn't sexy to those who aren't technically mindedZugzwang

    To some extent that would be the case. But more specifically there is no way you can use Shannon info theory, to understand why information is such a valuable quantity today. How information shapes us. How it can be weaponized. How it can be used to control people, etc.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    No that does not follow, imo. You will have to contend with a growing realization that everything is information.Pop

    Before I do a deep dive, would you mind arguing for its practical relevance for me? Or for the species?

    To some extent that would be the case. But more specifically there is no way you can use Shannon info theory, to understand why information is such a valuable quantity today. How information shapes us. How it can be weaponized. How it can be used to control people, etc.Pop

    My sense is that now you are talking about data and AI. This stuff has obvious practical-political relevance.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    Before I do a deep dive, would you mind arguing for its practical relevance for me? Or for the species?Zugzwang

    Information is the fundamental quantity / quality, perhaps non quantifiable observable, that has the potential to completely reshape the materialist paradigm. I am still trying to understand it, so can not give you a complete rundown. Except to say that a definition that gets at the facts of what is happening might bring us closer to be able to understand information, and its full potential.

    My sense is that now you are talking about data and AI. This stuff has obvious practical-political relevance.Zugzwang

    Yes that is part of the mix of considerations. My focus is on elucidating how information causes a change in mind state, similar to Mckay , and how this change in mind state is involuntary / subconscious - as described by enactivism. But really there is enormous potential in information philosophy to reshape understanding on almost all levels.

    The Information Philosopher has a well developed web site for more info. I don't agree with his entire interpretation, but it will give you some clues.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Shannon, whose position eventually prevailed, defined information in terms of the transmission of the signal and was not concerned with the meaning. The problem with MacKay’s definition was that meaning could not be measured or quantified and as a result the Shannon definition won out and changed the development of information science". People that shared MacKay’s position
    complained that Shannon’s definition of information did not fully describe communication. Shannon
    did not disagree–he “frequently cautioned that the theory was meant to apply only to certain technical
    situations, not to communication in general".
    Pop

    Shannon's warning is basically my original point. It's technical concept. In fact we do want to transmit bits effectively, and part of that is coming up with a framework for quantifying how well we are doing and how well we could possibly do.

    Lots of humans want more than technical knowhow, but they like technical jargon, and so it's common that technical jargon gets blended with traditional spirituality into something new. Or something that seems new. To me, 'all is information' is something like 'all is mind.' 'Matter' is an illusion or a misunderstanding or simply a concept in the system of concepts (and there is only concept-information-mind, something like that.) In general it's not testable, but it's not for digging ditches to begin with but rather (seems to me) for its pleasant psycho-active effects. Perhaps it's answer to the perceived threat of materialism. My question is: does it give us an afterlife we didn't have already? Will it usher in the age of Aquarius? Will we stop waging war, putting carbon in the air? Because we are enlightened finally with the final master word?
  • Pop
    1.4k
    To me, 'all is information' is something like 'all is mind.' 'Matter' is an illusion or a misunderstanding or simply a concept in the system of concepts (and there is only concept-information-mind, something like that.) In general it's not testable, but it's not for digging ditches to begin with but rather (seems to me) for its pleasant psycho-active effectsZugzwang

    Regardless of how you personally might relate to the idea that matter and energy and information are equivalent, there is a growing trend toward this understanding. I see it as a monism, where everything is made of matter, energy, and information.

    That everything is information is easily falsifiable ( Popper ) by providing something that is not information?

    My question is: does it give us an afterlife we didn't have already? Will it usher in the age of Aquarius? Will we stop waging war, putting carbon in the air? Because we are enlightened finally with the final master word?Zugzwang

    Ha, ha. Who knows what might emerge from a shift in paradigm. :smile:
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Regardless of how you personally might relate to the idea that matter and energy and information are equivalent, there is a growing trend toward this understanding. I see it as a monism, where everything is made of matter, energy, and information.Pop

    I appreciate your polite engagement with a skeptic. So you are saying matter = energy = information = everything. I'm not up on the latest physics, so I don't deny that some version of that in some context is plausible and maybe even probable. But perhaps we treat the claims of physics differently. I guess I'm an instrumentalist about such things. It's the technology that speaks to me, including algorithms for predication that outperform others.

    That everything is information is easily falsifiable ( Popper ) by providing something that is not information?Pop

    I was just reading Popper earlier. If you want to present your thesis as an empirical claim, you should do something practical with it that couldn't otherwise be done or predict something that other, competing theories don't predict or even contradict. Your challenge is akin to the idealist saying: just show me something that isn't mind. But that's actually a defect, cuz 'everything is X' is basically as good as 'nothing is X' as no sorting of entities is involved. The Absolute 'Information' is the night in which all cows are black.
  • Mark Nyquist
    267

    A question for you. Is the Donald Mckay you refered to the same as Donald MacCrimmon MacKay?
    A british physicist, 1922 to 1987.
    He's in Wikipedia. Do you know more on the web? I'll keep looking...an interesting background similar to Harry Nyquist and Claude Shannon in some ways.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    Your challenge is akin to the idealist saying: just show me something that isn't mind. But that's actually a defect, but 'everything is X' is basically as good as 'nothing is X' as no sorting of entities is involved. The Absolute 'Information' is the night in which all cows are black.Zugzwang

    Ha, ha, I happen to be an idealist also, though now an enactivist. Information is fundamental. To know anything at all, you have to have information about it. That is the bottom line. This is how we are enacted / interacted in the world.
  • Pop
    1.4k

    I'm not sure. His paper is called MacKay, D. Information, Mechanism and Meaning; MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA, 1969. I can not find a free version.

    This is an interesting read: https://www.mdpi.com/2078-2489/3/1/68
  • Mark Nyquist
    267
    That makes sense, that's the man.
  • Mark Nyquist
    267
    You know if he did anything really interesting it might be classified. You know, black bag, black op.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    ↪Pop You know if he did anything really interesting it might be classified. You know, black bag, black op.Mark Nyquist

    I think he was just not very prominent. :sad:

    This is a great argument against Shannon's information definition, in that it treats information as finite, which is an error in biotic evolution, given open ended emergence.

    Stuart Kauffman: "In POE we argued that Shannon’s [2] classical definition of information as the measure of the decrease of uncertainty was not valid for a biotic system that propagates its organization. The core argument of POE was that Shannon information “does not apply to the evolution of the biosphere” because Darwinian preadaptations cannot be predicted and as a consequence “the ensemble of
    possibilities and their entropy cannot be calculated [1].” Therefore a definition of information as
    reducing uncertainty does not make sense since no matter how much one learns from the information
    in a biotic system the uncertainty remains infinite because the number of possibilities of what can
    evolve is infinitely non-denumerable. I remind the reader that in making his definition that Shannon
    specified that the number of possible messages was finite."
  • Mark Nyquist
    267
    I don't know. He was well connected and he fits a profile. His best stuff is probably in a vault. To bad he died young.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    Who knows?

    Kauffmans definition of information is:

    "We therefore conclude that constraints are information and… information is constraints… We
    use the term “instructional information” because of the instructional function this
    information performs and we sometimes call it “biotic information” because this is the
    domain it acts in, as opposed to human telecommunication or computer information systems
    where Shannon information operates ".

    That is similar!
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Ha, ha, I happen to be an idealist also, though now an enactivist. Information is fundamental. To know anything at all, you have to have information about it. That is the bottom line. This is how we are enacted / interacted in the world.Pop

    I like enactivism, or at least the quote below.

    Radical enactivists often adopt a thoroughly non-representational, enactive account of basic cognition. Basic cognitive capacities mentioned by Hutto and Myin include perceiving, imagining and remembering.[16][17] They argue that those forms of basic cognition can be explained without positing mental representations. With regard to complex forms of cognition such as language, they think mental representations are needed, because there needs explanations of content. In human being's public practices, they claim that "such intersubjective practices and sensitivity to the relevant norms comes with the mastery of the use of public symbol systems" (2017, p. 120), and so "as it happens, this appears only to have occurred in full form with construction of sociocultural cognitive niches in the human lineage" (2017, p. 134).[16] They conclude that basic cognition as well as cognition in simple organisms such as bacteria are best characterized as non-representational.[18][16][17]

    Enactivism also addresses the hard problem of consciousness, referred to by Thompson as part of the explanatory gap in explaining how consciousness and subjective experience are related to brain and body.[19] "The problem with the dualistic concepts of consciousness and life in standard formulations of the hard problem is that they exclude each other by construction".[20] Instead, according to Thompson's view of enactivism, the study of consciousness or phenomenology as exemplified by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty is to complement science and its objectification of the world. "The whole universe of science is built upon the world as directly experienced, and if we want to subject science itself to rigorous scrutiny and arrive at a precise assessment of its meaning and scope, we must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world of which science is the second-order expression" (Merleau-Ponty, The phenomenology of perception as quoted by Thompson, p. 165). In this interpretation, enactivism asserts that science is formed or enacted as part of humankind's interactivity with its world, and by embracing phenomenology "science itself is properly situated in relation to the rest of human life and is thereby secured on a sounder footing."[21][22]
    — Wiki
  • Mark Nyquist
    267
    I dunno, I'm still on MacKay. He could have been in early matter to mind programs. Alan Turing, Marvin Minski AI stuff.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    ↪Pop I dunno, I'm still on MacKay. He could have been in early matter to mind programs. Alan Turing, Marvin Minski AI stuff.Mark Nyquist

    Ok, good luck with it. This would be really interesting stuff If you can find anything. :up:
  • Mark Nyquist
    267

    It's very posible that MacKay's work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.
    Maybe that's why Roger Penrose's books seem a little off. They can't publish the good stuff for the public.
  • Mersi
    12
    Pop, this may be of interest for you: The German Carl F. von Weizsaeker and his students attempted to establish a theory called the "Quantum Theory of Ur-Objects" back in the 80´s. (Ur is the german prefix for most basic like in "Ursprung" - origin). With theire theory they attempted to establish information as basic for matter to appeare. The term "Ure" was introduced, which corresponded to the simplest yes / no distinction. A concrete object, I assume some sort of elemantary particle, required the information corresponding to 4 "Ur distinctions".
    The theory was packed with advanced math, far to complicated at least for me. But as far as I understood, the theory postulated a dependence of the material world on its information content. I guess all efforts to establish the theory have been given up, after v. Weizsaeckers death.
    There is a summary in English of the so called Ur Theory by Holger Lyre, a former student of v. Weizsaecker, today a prof. for philosphy at the university of Magdeburg.
  • Mark Nyquist
    267

    You're new here. Welcome to the jungle!
  • Pop
    1.4k
    But as far as I understood, the theory postulated a dependence of the material world on its information content.Mersi

    Thanks for that info, and welcome to the forum. :smile:

    Quite a lot of similar such studies / evidence from various fields was presented in the what is information thread.
    Zeilinger concluded similarly. Stating: "It does not make any sense to
    talk about reality without the information about it".


    That one can not know anything without information about it seems so obvious, but it is still a big step for anybody to go from there, to state that "everything is information". Yet this is what is required to define it.
    All the definitions thus far have been close, but I feel, they just miss the mark, probably because they fail to embrace the paradigm.

    It is so hard to jump the fence, given our upbringing. Can you imagine consciousness and information, and nothing else? To some extent this is the implication! It is unimaginable that this could be reality. Most people would consider it impossible, so will dismiss it off hand. However when you examine the possibility logically, and non judgmentally, the argument is incredibly strong - so far on the side of "everything is information", that it is no contest at all. However to embrace the paradigm means to change oneself, so the reluctance is understandable.

    If information is everything, then the definition of information is "absolutely constrained" in what it can be.
    It can only be one thing, as far as I can see. There is only one thing that is everything, and that is the "interaction of systems, including their subsystems".

    It is the form of these systems that is interacting, and causing a mutual change in their "absolute" characteristics, such that their form evolves. This is the process of information, where information is the evolutionary interaction of form. Another way to say it is information = evolutionary interaction. This captures everything, and situates information into it's logically correct position - a position currently occupied by interaction. :smile: Essentially information is interaction.

    Understanding information defined this way facilitates further insight into information, which I take to be a non quantifiable fundamental observable ( Barbieri ). Systems are interacting and assembling on their own. This leads to a way of seeing the world , composed of systems, as evolving informational bodies, existing as a function of their historical interactions unilaterally. Hence we are the result of our historical interactions - the result of our historical experiences. What we are, and those experiences are the one inextricable process. @Zugzwang I think this is what Enactivism tries to elucidate also. These interactions are information, and nothing exists outside of these interactions.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    Quantum Theory of Ur Objects and General Relativity -
    Martin Kober

    Institut f¨ur Theoretische Physik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universit¨at,
    Max-von-Laue-Str. 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

    Conclusion: "In retrospect, regarding the notion of causality, the framework of physics has undergone a paradigmatic changewith the advent of quantum mechanics about 80 years ago.The deterministic character of physics has been abandoned and knowledge and information have become central concepts. The foundations of quantum theory have not only shone new light on one of the deepest philosophical questions, namely the nature of reality, but have in the past decades also led to the possibility of new technologies".
  • Mersi
    12
    If matter was somehow equivalent to information, what is meant by the common saying: wrong information?

    That shows, that even if it was true that the world is made up of information, the subject adds something to make information out of this mere perception.
  • SoftEdgedWonder
    42
    If matter was somehow equivalent to information, what is meant by the common saying: wrong informationMersi

    Wrong matter?
  • Pop
    1.4k
    If matter was somehow equivalent to information, what is meant by the common saying: wrong information?

    That shows, that even if it was true that the world is made up of information, the subject adds something to make information out of this mere perception.
    Mersi

    I think you are getting at the mind dependent nature of the world? I think that is the case, and I like the Enactivist version of it - slightly more sophisticated then idealism, imo, given it explains how we are provided with a picture of the world already full of anthropocentric symbiology - already coloured in so to speak. Given science tells us there is no colour, or sound in the "real" world. That instead there is frequencies of light, and vibrations.

    This fits with the notion that a self aware symbolic self evolved after an external world picture was already resolved neurally, and so a self interacts with internal neural patterning, rather then an external world. This I think is consistent with the neuroscience model of mind where a Markov blanket initially resolves frequencies and vibrations to ordered symbols, to be processed then by what we understand as mind. I wonder If @Isaac would agree?

    I think the way to see it is as a monism, where energy, matter, and information is present in everything. The information theoretic, though still new to me, suggests that immaterial information can not exist.
    That information only occurs due to energy congealing to a material - that this process of becoming a substance is itself a process of integrating information, and matter is really "symbolized" amalgams of energy in various forms. That matter exists in solid and stable form is important as form represents the order in the universe, and the fact that something has form allows it to interact with other somethings that have form, and not with something that is immaterial.

    Everything that exists, exists in some form. The ordered universe has to exist in a form, hence so too do it's component parts. Hence life exists in some form. Understanding exists in some form. The form of one's understanding interacts with the form of externalities already symbolized to form. This interaction is information, and it's effect is to evolve these forms.

    I am convinced this interaction is information, and it is a far bigger deal than what we normally understand it to be.
  • Mark Nyquist
    267

    I found a little more background on the Donald M. MacKay that you referenced. The 'Ratio Club' can be checked on Wikipedia and you will see both Donald MacKay and Alan Tuning were members, so they knew each other. Some of Turing's work was covered by the Official Secrets Act so my speculation that MacKay's might be also is a good guess.
    What I think is posible is there are advanced mathematics models (published or classified) of a different type than the Shannon model. It might be what you are discussing - a type of information with meaning.
  • Pop
    1.4k
    Some of Turing's work was covered by the Official Secrets Act so my speculation that MacKay's might be also is a good guess.Mark Nyquist

    Fascinating! There are methods of persuasion, as employed by Cambridge Analytica, but to find a theory of persuasion, would be quite somthing else. I will have to study up on cybernetics: The word cybernetics refers to the theory of message transmission among people and machines.

    "society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever-increasing part". - Wikipedia
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