Let me put it a bit differently, in terms of systems and types of laws. 
Prior the emergence of life in evolution we have only physico-chemical laws. 
Energy exchanges just obey these laws. There is no purpose, just matter in the 
interaction of laws (putting aside the question of the trend to increasing 
complexity in our universe).
When life appears in evolution, something new is to be taken into account in 
terms of law: the final causes law. A living entity is not only submitted to 
the existing physico-chemical laws, but also to the constraint; “stay alive”. 
Behaviors of organisms are guided by this constraint (look for food/energy, 
avoid predators, …). Behaviors are goal directed. The concept of final causes 
has been introduced by Aristote. Cybernetics has built up a model to apply the 
concept to artefacs (the constraint of the system is to reach the goal, hit the 
In a guided missile, the information collected by the infrared sensors is used 
(data processing) to control the energy guiding the missile.
In a frog looking for food to stay alive, the visual information of a moving 
black dot is used to control the tongue flicking in order to catch the fly. 
We can compare the systems in terms of data processing and energy control for 
constraint satisfaction. Both the missile and the frog process information to 
control their energy and actions in order to satisfy their constraint. 
But we must be careful when comparing artificial systems to organisms: living 
entities have performances that we do not understand and that we can only 
partially transpose to artefacts, like autonomy. Autonomy is a performance of 
life that we do not understand as of today. The pseudo autonomy of a robot is 
only derived from ours.
So I feel that comparing living and artificial systems brings to consider that 
they both process information to control their energy in order to satisfy their 

Subject: RE: [Fis] BBC Doco; Cell
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 10:54:00 +1300

Hi Christofe
Perhaps to be introduced here is the evolution from matter to life. 
Prior to life in the universe, there are only physicochemical laws valid 
When life comes in, something local to the living entity is added: a “stay 
constraint that applies only to the living entity, not elsewhere. 
Such constraint that is to be locally satisfied by the entity carrying it goes 
with the 
process of interpretation, or meaning generation, that links the living entity 
(the organism)
to its environment. 

Organisms have the possibility to receive information incident from their 
(light, sound, information from other organism, ….) and process it.
This is the problem living organisms do not have anything to do with processing 
information. It seems to me that many people clever and astute have been 
hoodwinked into thinking this is the case.
There is not one piece of evidence to show that organisms process information. 
Let’s break it down. Using Occam’s Razor.
Sight (photons), sound (phonons and energy waves in air), taste, smell 
(chemical energy), touch (pressure and heat energy). All transduced at the 
sensory processing-structures (eyes, ears etc) into an electrical signal in the 
neural system. There is no information energy at the transduction 
processing-structure. The ears do not contain any organ that transduces 
information only energy.
The bottom line is this “It’s the shape, hues and intensities of energy that we 
control biologically that gives this false sense of something else called 
information. And so famously found on spectrums, the very basis of our 
understanding of matter.
Even language is really a control of sight and sound energies. The difference 
between a biological organism and dead matter is not information (so famously 
touted by Richard Dawkins), but the ability of a living organism to control its 
own energies.
No such thing as information as being exchanged by living organism.
Sure we can use information theory to analyze some of these things, but saying 
a living organisms processes information is false.
The information processing exists so it can initiate action aimed at satisfying 
the constraint.
Easy for a “stay alive” constraint that will bring a paramecium to move away 
from acid water. 
Much more complex for humans exchanging language where other constraints and 
performances come in. 
But I feel that the basic notion of constraint satisfaction coming during 
evolution in addition to 
physico-chemical laws can be a simple and useful tool (see

> From:
> To:;
> Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2011 13:09:02 +1300
> Subject: Re: [Fis] BBC Doco; Cell
> Well then we totally agree on that.
> The second part of your response then, if some energy transduction has the
> properties of information flow where is it (what are these properties) and
> if it's there how do we measure it either qualitatively or qualitatively.
> Because it looks like to me, any exchange language or otherwise is really
> only energy transduction albeit a mix of sight and sound (and the other
> senses) which is really shape and hues (both nouns) of different energy
> patterns. Which is really just the basis of scientific thought, made of
> patterns of energy. Spectrums, chromatography, etc
> No information here. Just energy patterns.
> Gavin
> Gavin,
> Everything is energy transduction, even your thinking. Some energy
> transduction has the properties of information flow, sensu Barwsie and
> Seligman, Information Flow: the Logic of Distributed Systems (Cambridge UP,
> 1997 or so). 
> John
> At 01:05 AM 2011/03/28, Gavin Ritz wrote:
> I watched a BBC documentary on the weekend with a friend who recommended it.
> It was a really interesting and well presented programme.
> Some very far out stuff about the creation of life.
> However what I observed again (now more than ever before) that the DNA
> molecule is an information carrying molecule. Simple, all we have to do is
> decipher this information. Richard Dawkins also says this in a number of his
> publications. "living matter is just matter plus information"
> I'm no biologist or biochemist (I'm an engineer). There's something wrong
> here. 
> Even at the most basic level of an organism's communication with its
> environment. There is no discernable information exchange. Every single one
> of our senses is an energy transduction structure-processing unit. All we do
> is transduce say light and sound energy to electrical energy. This much is
> pretty well established.
> Unless information is just a colloquial way of saying energy transduction
> (or conversion). I doubt this though; information seems to be containing
> much more than just this. It's almost as if commentators are saying behind
> all this energy (and conversions, and work) lies a new and more powerful
> notion.
> All of chemistry is the reaction of structures with other structures, there
> are no informational exchanges. 
> If there are informational exchanges where is the science?
> I'm not talking about computing machines or old fashioned telephony
> (of-course we have created information here).
> These informational exchanges about organisms seemed to have crept into our
> thinking around the 1950's circa cybernetics. Prior to this very little on
> living organism and information exchange.
> Regards
> Gavin
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> Professor John Collier, Acting HoS  and Acting Deputy HoS
> Philosophy and Ethics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041 South Africa
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