• Wayfarer
    9.8k
    Of course the information can only come to light in collaboration with a percipient, but it is all there to be discovered.Janus

    But random stuff contains no information, as a matter of definition. A person, or a scientist, can discover information about it - composition, density and so on - but that doesn't mean that it contains information.

    Look at the SETI program - it's been scanning the cosmos for 30 years looking for 'telltale signs of life'. No doubt that search has generated petabytes of stored data - but the 'telltale sign', which is ordered information, has never been found.

    Wayfarer is referring to actual information:Possibility

    Thank you.

    It is the potential information that is more objectivePossibility

    Objectivity is defined by in relation to subjects. Without a subject, there is nothing objective about it.

    how do you know it's not a strawberry pie?ZzzoneiroCosm

    Hey it is! It's delicious! Like some?
  • Janus
    9.1k
    But random stuff contains no information, as a matter of definition. A person, or a scientist, can discover information about it - composition, density and so on - but that doesn't mean that it contains information.Wayfarer

    Do what you would call examples of ordered stuff, for example written texts or ancient tablets, contain information that is independent of their being, respectively, anyone to read, or decipher?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    The bag of rocks doesn't convey the fact that it's a bag of rocks and not a strawberry pie? Then how do you know it's not a strawberry pie?ZzzoneiroCosm

    I might take a look, and make the judgement that it suits what I understand by "bag of rocks", and not what I understand as "strawberry pie". So I would claim that it's a bag of rocks.
  • Possibility
    1.4k
    Objectivity is defined by in relation to subjects. Without a subject, there is nothing objective about it.Wayfarer

    Objectivity is a relation beyond the subject, not in spite of it.

    Uncertainty and error from noise is a given in relation to actual information. We go to a lot of trouble to ignore, isolate and exclude all of this uncertainty, to collapse it to a binary true-false that we call logic. But in reality, what we make use of in our own (often subconscious) interactions with the world - what enables us to learn from the past and form predictions about the future - is a subjective relation to irreducible potential/value information. And beyond that subjectivity is all the potential information with which we can interact in a meaningful way through subject-to-subject relations, increasing our understanding of an objectivity beyond our limited capacity to collapse potential information.
  • Possibility
    1.4k
    But random stuff contains no information, as a matter of definition. A person, or a scientist, can discover information about it - composition, density and so on - but that doesn't mean that it contains information.

    Look at the SETI program - it's been scanning the cosmos for 30 years looking for 'telltale signs of life'. No doubt that search has generated petabytes of stored data - but the 'telltale sign', which is ordered information, has never been found.
    Wayfarer

    Just because we have no way to structure that information in relation to our limited perception of the cosmos, doesn’t mean the information doesn’t exist. It’s irrelevant to our perceived capacity to make predictions about anything at this stage, but essentially it’s still information.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    983
    I might take a look, and make the judgement that it suits what I understand by "bag of rocks", and not what I understand as "strawberry pie". So I would claim that it's a bag of rocks.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's more prudent than taking a bite.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    I'd call them undeciphered texts (the Indus script, for instance).

    It’s irrelevant to our perceived capacity to make predictions about anything at this stage, but essentially it’s still information.Possibility

    I don’t agree. It broadens the definition of information to be so all inclusive that it becomes meaningless.
  • Possibility
    1.4k
    It’s irrelevant to our perceived capacity to make predictions about anything at this stage, but essentially it’s still information.
    — Possibility

    I don’t agree. It broadens the definition of information to be so all inclusive that it becomes meaningless.
    Wayfarer

    Only if you’re looking for a definition in terms of what it is that everything else isn’t. But if information is fundamental, then everything IS information. It is the diversity of meaning itself: the difference that makes a difference.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k
    Come back when you have the faintest idea what we're talking about. I won't be holding my breath.

    Hint: an image is what it is. It has no potential, and the information content cannot change except by the destruction of the image.
    unenlightened

    Come back when you know how to read.

    Destruction of the image is a causal process, so yes that would change the information content.

    What the image is is a relationship between its effect of an image and what caused it to be an image. There are many potential causes but only one actual cause.

    Why don't you show exactly what is the information that is missing from the ordered image that exists in the disordered image.

    Order and disorder are simply different views of the same thing - one view with a causal explanation and one view without.
  • unenlightened
    5k
    Why don't you show exactly what is the information that is missing from the ordered image that exists in the disordered image.Harry Hindu

    Because I already have. About as clearly and graphically as could possibly be.

    To make it intuitive, to the extent there is order, there is repetition, and whenever there is a repetition, it can be abbreviated to 'and so on'.

    Repetition gives the same information twice. Repetition gives the same information twice.

    =

    Repetition gives the same information twice. *2

    Information density is the measure of disorder. Information in this example is not the pixels, but the arrangement of the pixels, not the things, but the arrangement of things.
    unenlightened

    Come back when you know how to read., No, actually, don't. Just stop chasing me from thread to thread with your vacuous contrarian nonsense.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    Methinks Harry’s posts would be considerably better if he really was a Hindu. :grin: (I suppose that is ad hom, but I’ve put with a lot over the years.)
  • schopenhauer1
    4.3k
    FWIW - Qualia, as I see it, refers to qualitative potential information or value, in much the same way that probability refers to quantitative potential information. This is information the brain pieces together to make predictions about our interaction with the world - given that the brain doesn’t interact directly with the world, but rather as an allocation of energy (potential) and attention (value) to the various parts of the organism in relation to these predictions. Consciousness would then be the five-dimensional conceptual predictive ‘map’ we each continually reconstruct about ourselves in relation to the world, as a relational structure of both qualitative and quantitative potential information relative to its differentiation from the ongoing sensory event of the organism in 4D spacetime.Possibility

    Ok, but then where does this valuative element come from? It's still not answering the hard question of why value at all. What I mean is, how are brain states or physical states equivalent to value? If they are not equivalent, how do you account for this dualism?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k
    Methinks Harry’s posts would be considerably better if he really was a Hindu. :grin: (I suppose that is ad hom, but I’ve put with a lot over the years.)Wayfarer
    Methinks that unenlightened posts would be considerably better if he really was logical.

    To make it intuitive, to the extent there is order, there is repetition, and whenever there is a repetition, it can be abbreviated to 'and so on'.

    Repetition gives the same information twice. Repetition gives the same information twice.

    =

    Repetition gives the same information twice. *2
    unenlightened
    So the ordered image has twice the amount of information of the disordered image?

    Why does repetition give the same information only twice? It seems to me that repetition could potentially be infinite.

    Information density is the measure of disorder. Information in this example is not the pixels, but the arrangement of the pixels, not the things, but the arrangement of things.unenlightened
    Both images are an arrangement of things.

    You still haven't come close to showing how the disordered image has more information than the ordered one. If anything, you have shown the opposite.
  • unenlightened
    5k
    You still haven't come close to showing how the disordered image has more information than the ordered one. If anything, you have shown the opposite.Harry Hindu

    You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind. You are blind.
  • unenlightened
    5k
    That was a longish post for me. How much information did it convey? My feeling is that repeating myself does not add to the information. But If anyone disagrees, then I refer them to the two wiki pages I linked to earlier, where there is a formal and quantitive argument laid out with references.
  • Isaac
    2.5k


    I don't understand the connection you're making here. If the question I'm asking of the dataset is "what is unenlightened saying?", then the repetition carries no more information. If the question I'm asking of the dataset is "what state is each sentence in?" then the measure of information is the degree of decrease in probability for the total unit. Say each sentence could be either 'You are blind' or 'You are not blind', then each has a P=0.5. Every sentence which is specified by your post reduces that uncertainty. So the information is the total degree to which uncertainty is reduced (the total possibilities which are set to certainties). At least, that's how Shannon defines it.

    What you seem to be describing is the efficiency of data compression, which is not the same thing as information quantity (in terms of probability reduction).

    The only way I can see you conflating measures of information compression with measures of information quantity is with expectation. If the value of one sentence somehow dictates the following value, then my expectation is lower (less information has been carried). But you ruled that out by saying that the information was 'in the picture' and had nothing to do with the interpretation.

    So I'm lost as to what you're trying to present here (yet it sounds interesting). Are you trying to explain Shannon - in which case you need to make clearer the difference between compressibility and total information, or are you presenting something new of your own thinking?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k
    That was a longish post for me. How much information did it convey? My feeling is that repeating myself does not add to the information. But If anyone disagrees, then I refer them to the two wiki pages I linked to earlier, where there is a formal and quantitive argument laid out with references.unenlightened
    It certainly contains more information than this:

    sdp m-0w3r] sfd'gmp nAWE(0b7rb[ asid
    vp dsfg sd
    rgsdfh dfghjt-r9hume5[po6iu
    sufyumw4-5t9nme
    sdfgh s

    What information does the above disordered post contain that isn't possessed by your ordered post?
  • unenlightened
    5k
    At least, that's how Shannon defines it.Isaac

    Well I am not the statistician round here, But Shannon was dealing with distinguishing signal from noise. And indeed the way to do that is by repetition. Each repetition of my sentence can be seen as further confirmation that I did not accidentally write "blind" when I actually meant "bland". But the repetition or the 'order' in the message distinguishes it from noise, it does not add information. in a noisy channel one sacrifices bandwidth (information density) for clarity. However, if you got the information the first time, you get nothing new from my saying over again.
  • unenlightened
    5k
    What information does the above disordered post contain that isn't possessed by your ordered post?Harry Hindu

    Useless information. Like the most of your posts. Again, I have already gone into this. However, information that looks as useless as this can be useful information that has bee encrypted. I have also mentioned this in passing.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k
    You are incapable of thinking your arguments through before posting.

    You're simply talking about types (useful vs useless) of information, not quantity of information. Information is only useful for some goal. If you don't possess that goal, then that doesn't mean that the information doesn't exist, only that the information isn't useful for that purpose.
  • fdrake
    3.9k
    There are a bunch of information concepts.

    There's minimum description length: how precisely something can be stated in full
    *
    (specified completely in some formal language)
    . The digits of "1/3" in base 10 are fully specified by "One 0 and then 3's forever", whereas there's no way to specify all the digits of Pi shortly. The minimum description length for all of Pi's digits is just writing them out in order; so there's a relationship between that and the degree to which a string can be compressed. There's a further relationship between this lack of compressibility and randomness.

    There's the Shannon one, which is (very roughly) a measure of how disorderly / undominated by patterns some (discrete) thing is. The Shannon entropy of something depends on how likely its elements are to occur (given some model of how likely they are to occur). If you're flipping a coin, and it's weighted on tails, it'll come up heads every time. That's dominated by the pattern than "it'll come up heads every time". The way for the coin flipping process to be least dominated by patterns of heads or tails would be for the flips to be independent of each other and for the coin to be fair. In that regard, the Shannon entropy can be considered a "distance from equiprobability". There's a relationship between this and compressibility; if no algorithm exists that could reliably guess the head/tail sequences from a particular coin, given data from it, then the head/tail flipping mechanism is both equiprobable over all sequences of heads/tails and incompressible.

    Edit: just to be clear, the sequences generated from the flipping mechanism will be somewhat compressible in general, if you've already observed them. IE: "Heads, Tails, Heads" is a fully specified length three sequence, the probability of "what we just observed" being "heads, tails, heads" is one.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k
    However, information that looks as useless as this can be useful information that has bee encrypted. I have also mentioned this in passing.unenlightened
    Encrypting information is a kind of processing information. And in processing information, you are adding information, like the algorithm used to encode and then decode the encryption. The encrypted scribbles (the effect) would then be a causal interaction between the original information and the encryption algorithm (the causes). The encryption would be about both, and therefore be more complex than just one of the causes by themselves, and therefore have more information than just one of the causes by themselves.

    In other words, the symbols refer to the information of which none of it was lost, because when decoded all the information is there.

    In data compression, the actual information does not change, but the internal representation of the information changes.
  • fdrake
    3.9k


    Compression on computers is often compression with loss, though. You can't get the uncompressed input from the compressed output with most image, video, audio file formats. Encryption is invertable, so distinct from compression.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k

    To say that loss occurred during compression is agreeing with me that the information was there, but now it is gone after compression. The compressed version is not the same as the uncompressed version. So the original still has information that is removed when compressed. So again, how is it that uncompressed, ordered marks have less information than uncompressed disordered marks?

    When compressing information is a lossy format, then you are essentially saying that there is information that exists but isn't useful to keep, hence a compressed version.

    This is the same as saying that the information that is removed is irrelevant to the position of the marks in the image.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    Each repetition of my sentence can be seen as further confirmation that I did not accidentally write "blind" when I actually meant "bland".unenlightened

    It can be, yes. I was struggling to marry that with your idea that the information was somehow in the picture (your first example), or in the paragraph here, regardless of the interpreter.

    What you said above is only true if my expectation is that you're about to make a proposition. Then my uncertainty is resolved by the first sentence, and only resolved marginally more by the subsequent ones.

    If, however, my expectation is that you are about to deliver a 200 sentence paragraph and I'm uncertain as to the content of each sentence, then neither the content of the first sentence, nor the pattern generated by the first few, reduce that uncertainty without my interpretation.

    The information reduced by repetition cannot be both expressed in terms of Shannon's reduction in entropy, and be the same regardless of an interpreter. A pattern only reduces uncertainty by expectation. Someone needs to be doing the expecting.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    There's minimum description length: how precisely something can be stated in fullfdrake

    Thank you. That's the name of the thing I was scrambling for when I was taking about 'efficiency of data compression'. I couldn't remember the correct term.
  • unenlightened
    5k
    When I were a lad, there was none of this internet thing, we used to get all our information from books. The little local library would have a few hundred books, big university libraries thousands. Thing was, the books were nearly all different. There might be more than one copy of the most used books, but the amount of information available was counted by the number of different books. A library with a thousand copies of only one book would not be a repository of much information, in fact it would only have one book's worth. Is this controversial?
  • bongo fury
    474


    Fascinating though it is to see various notions of information displayed in their varyingly mystical colours, I'm surprised no one has questioned the interpretation of Dennett and Wiener in the OP?

    Wiener said

    The mechanical brain does not secrete thought "as the liver does bile," as the earlier materialists claimed, nor does it put it out in the form of energy, as the muscle puts out its activity. Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.
    — Computing Machines and the Nervous System. p. 132.
    Wayfarer

    Could you share a link or pdf of the context, here? I'm struggling to see this (or even Dennett's "adding information to the list" [of fundamentals]) as problematising or refashioning materialism. Of adding a "meta-physical simple", as you put it. It sounds to me more like the opposite. As contesting the notion of thought as an additional kind of stuff. Like he was referring to a tradition of psychology that wittingly or unwittingly encouraged such an assumption.

    the materialist chestnut that 'the brain secretes thought as the liver does bile'Wayfarer

    Materialist chestnut, are you sure??

    Information is information, not matter or energy. — Wiener

    That could mean we need a third kind of physical quantity, or it could mean we don't, and information is merely patterning, or form. (Whatever that is, sure.)

    Information, he's saying, is irreducible.Wayfarer

    Irreducible to patterns in physical stuff? Why shouldn't he be reminding us that is exactly what it (e.g. DNA transfer) reduces to?

    I'm genuinely puzzled, and couldn't find the source, so, grateful for more if you have it.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    Is this controversial?unenlightened

    No, I don't think it's at all controversial... in a world of people for whom the relevant information is what the words in the books say. What I think is controversial, at least to me, is...

    the information content cannot change except by the destruction of the image.unenlightened

    If the information content cannot change, then I can only interpret that as meaning all the information (the location and state of all the matter in the picture), regardless of the expectations of an observer (otherwise the information would change - it would be different for a different observer).

    Consider a pattern of raised or coloured dots. Each is either blue or raised but never both. The dots spell out the letter A in either raised or blue dots (the background dots are neither raised nor blue). To most people the information is not random. They recognise the 'A' pattern. To a blind man, the dots are random, he only distinguishes the raised ones. His expectation uncertainty for subsequent dots in the pattern has not been reduced by the state of the first few.

    If you want to claim that this is merely the fault of the blindness, that the pattern is 'really' there and so also the information, then you'd have to say the same for every conceivable pattern (electromagnetic variation, electron spin, fibre angle...). And doing so, we're back to an ordered picture having no less information than a disordered one because it is only ordered in one context.

    To bring it back to your library example. What you say about repetition not increasing information would be true for everyone except the auditor. For him every repeat of a book is a new piece of information. So, in the absence of either readers or auditors, we cannot say that the amount of information in the libraries is the same. Blind everyone and promote auditing to a religion and suddenly the information contained in your repetitious libraries has indeed gone up. The total count of books has become relevant, their content less so.
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