# Re: [Fis] What is information? and What is life?

```Dai --

{phenomenon 1}```
```
{phenomenon 2}   -->  {Phenomena 1 & 2} ---> {phenomena 1.2,3}

{phenomenon 3}

The process from left to right is generalization.

‘Information’ IS a generalization.

generalities form the substance of philosophy. Info happens to a case

of generalization which can be mathematized, which in turn allows

it to be generalized even more.

So, what’s the problem?

STAN

On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 7:44 AM, Dai Griffiths <dai.griffith...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> >  Information is not “something out there” which “exists” otherwise than
> as our construct.
>
> I agree with this. And I wonder to what extent our problems in discussing
> information come from our desire to shoe-horn many different phenomena into
> the same construct. It would be possible to disaggregate the construct. It
> be possible to discuss the topics which we address on this list without
> using the word 'information'. We could discuss redundancy, variety,
> constraint, meaning, structural coupling, coordination, expectation,
> language, etc.
>
> In what ways would our explanations be weakened?
>
> In what ways might we gain in clarity?
>
> If we were to go down this road, we would face the danger that our
> discussions might become (even more) remote from everyday human experience.
> But many scientific discussions are remote from everyday human experience.
>
> Dai
> On 20/12/16 08:26, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:
>
> Dear colleagues,
>
>
>
> A distribution contains uncertainty that can be measured in terms of bits
> of information.
>
> Alternatively: the expected information content *H *of a probability
> distribution is .
>
> *H* is further defined as probabilistic entropy using Gibb’s formulation
> of the entropy .
>
>
>
> This definition of information is an operational definition. In my
> opinion, we do not need an essentialistic definition by answering the
> question of “what is information?” As the discussion on this list
> demonstrates, one does not easily agree on an essential answer; one can
> answer the question “how is information defined?” Information is not
> “something out there” which “exists” otherwise than as our construct.
>
>
>
> Using essentialistic definitions, the discussion tends not to move
> forward. For example, Stuart Kauffman’s and Bob Logan’s (2007) definition
> of information “as natural selection assembling the very constraints on the
> release of energy that then constitutes work and the propagation of
> organization.” I asked several times what this means and how one can
> measure this information. Hitherto, I only obtained the answer that
> colleagues who disagree with me will be cited. J Another answer was that
> “counting” may lead to populism. J
>
>
>
> Best,
>
> Loet
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Loet Leydesdorff
>
> Professor, University of Amsterdam
> Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
>
> <l...@leydesdorff.net>l...@leydesdorff.net ; <http://www.leydesdorff.net/>
> http://www.leydesdorff.net/
> Associate Faculty, SPRU, <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/>University of
> Sussex;
>
> Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. <http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/>,
> Hangzhou; Visiting Professor, ISTIC,
> <http://www.istic.ac.cn/Eng/brief_en.html>Beijing;
>
> Visiting Professor, Birkbeck <http://www.bbk.ac.uk/>, University of
> London;
>
>
>
>
> *From:* Dick Stoute [mailto:dick.sto...@gmail.com <dick.sto...@gmail.com>]
>
> *Sent:* Monday, December 19, 2016 12:48 PM
> *To:* l...@leydesdorff.net
> *Cc:* James Peters; u...@umces.edu; Alex Hankey; FIS Webinar
> *Subject:* Re: [Fis] What is information? and What is life?
>
>
>
> List,
>
>
>
> Please allow me to respond to Loet about the definition of information
> stated below.
>
>
>
> 1. the definition of information as uncertainty is counter-intuitive
> ("bizarre"); (p. 27)
>
>
>
> I agree.  I struggled with this definition for a long time before
> realising that Shannon was really discussing "amount of information" or the
> number of bits needed to convey a message.  He was looking for a formula
> that would provide an accurate estimate of the number of bits needed to
> convey a message and realised that the amount of information (number of
> bits) needed to convey a message was dependent on the "amount" of
> uncertainty that had to be eliminated and so he equated these.
>
>
>
> It makes sense to do this, but we must distinguish between "amount of
> information" and "information".  For example, we can measure amount of
> water in liters, but this does not tell us what water is and likewise the
> measure we use for "amount of information" does not tell us what
> information is. We can, for example equate the amount of water needed to
> fill a container with the volume of the container, but we should not think
> that water is therefore identical to an empty volume.  Similarly we should
> not think that information is identical to uncertainty.
>
>
>
> By equating the number of bits needed to convey a message with the "amount
> of uncertainty" that has to be eliminated Shannon, in effect, equated
> opposites so that he could get an estimate of the number of bits needed to
> eliminate the uncertainty.  We should not therefore consider that this
> equation establishes what information is.
>
>
>
> Dick
>
>
>
>
>
> On 18 December 2016 at 15:05, Loet Leydesdorff < <l...@leydesdorff.net>
> l...@leydesdorff.net> wrote:
>
> Dear James and colleagues,
>
>
>
> contribution:
>
>
>
> 1. the definition of information as uncertainty is counter-intuitive
> ("bizarre"); (p. 27)
>
> 2. "In particular, information must not be confused with meaning." (p. 8)
>
>
>
> The definition of information as relevant for a system of reference
> confuses information with "meaningful information" and thus sacrifices the
> surplus value of Shannon's counter-intuitive definition.
>
>
>
> information observer
>
>
>
> that integrates interactive processes such as
>
>
>
> physical interactions such photons stimulating the retina of the eye,
> human-machine interactions (this is the level that Shannon lives on),
> biological interaction such body temperature relative to touch ice or heat
> source, social interaction such as this forum started by Pedro, economic
> interaction such as the stock market, ... [Lerner, page 1].
>
>
>
> We are in need of a theory of meaning. Otherwise, one cannot measure
> meaningful information. In a previous series of communications we discussed
> redundancy from this perspective.
>
>
>
> Lerner introduces mathematical expectation E[Sap] (difference between of a
> priory entropy [sic] and a posteriori entropy), which is distinguished from
> the notion of relative information Iap (Learner, page 7).
>
>
>
> ) expresses in bits of information the information generated when the a
> priori distribution is turned into the a posteriori one . This follows
> within the Shannon framework without needing an observer. I use this
> equation, for example, in my 1995-book *The Challenge of Scientometrics*
> (Chapters 8 and 9), with a reference to Theil (1972). The relative
> information is defined as the *H*/*H*(max).
>
>
>
> I agree that the intuitive notion of information is derived from the Latin
> “in-formare” (Varela, 1979). But most of us do no longer use “force” and
> “mass” in the intuitive (Aristotelian) sense. J The proliferation of the
> meanings of information if confused with “meaningful information” is
> indicative for an “index sui et falsi”, in my opinion. The repetitive
> discussion lames the progression at this list. It is “like asking whether a
> glass is half empty or half full” (Hayles, 1990, p. 59).
>
>
>
> This act of forming forming an information process results in the
> construction of an observer that is the owner [holder] of information.
>
>
>
> The system of reference is then no longer the message, but the observer
> who provides meaning to the information (uncertainty). I agree that this is
> a selection process, but the variation first has to be specified
> independently (before it can be selected.
>
>
>
> And Lerner introduces the threshold between objective and subjective
> observes (page 27).   This leads to a consideration selection and
> cooperation that includes entanglement.
>
>
>
> I don’t see a direct relation between information and entanglement. An
> observer can be entangled.
>
>
>
> Best,
>
> Loet
>
>
>
> PS. Pedro: Let me assume that this is my second posting in the week which
> ends tonight. L.
>
>
>
>
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> --
> -----------------------------------------
>
> Professor David (Dai) Griffiths
> Professor of Education
> School of Education and Psychology
> The University of Bolton
> Bolton, BL3 5AB
>
> Office: T3 02http://www.bolton.ac.uk/IEC
>
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