• Gnomon
    1.7k
    The real issue for me is that this understanding of information ( If we bundle the above definitions into one ) is really quite divergent from the normal understanding, which is various and situationally specific.Pop
    That situation is indeed ironic, since the original meaning of "information" referred to ideas situated in an immaterial mind. Before early humans developed explicit speech & writing, they were like chimpanzees, who communicate their ideas in implicit hoots & gestures. Today, we are so accustomed to the ease of moving memes from one mind to another, that we take it for granted. And sharing information is the essence of human culture. Yet, Shannon focused on one specific situation (mechanical movement of information), to the exclusion of other means of sharing memes.

    Consequently, most applications of the term "information" now refer to machines instead of minds. And machines only have the values (meanings) that were programmed into them by others. Yet, humans are still capable of self-programming, by actively seeking relevant information*. It remains to be seen, if humans can develop machines capable of a personal self-image, which would add self-reflective value (meaning) to a stream of impersonal data. If and when that happens, we will see the beginning of machine Culture, as envisioned by sci-fi writers, e.g. The Matrix. :gasp:

    * Note -- Current AI computers are programmed to actively seek "relevant information". But the motivation (and the relevance) comes from the programmer, not the machine. Hence, lacking freewill, they simulate communication of meaning without the ability to make sense of it. In that situation, they are not even on a level with apes in intelligence. They are merely processors of information, without actually possessing it.
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