Dear FIS colleagues,

Though this is my first post I will spare my introduction to keep the
message short. For now I'd simply like to thank everyone for the
stimulating conversations and share a few thoughts regarding the current
discussion, in which I sympathize with Krassimir, Bob, and others
unconvinced that information transfer happens between non-living objects.
For me this is caused by the following points:

(a) One can identify identical information in non-identical physical
phenomena, and non-identical information in identical physical phenomena,
which suggests that information is *not* identical to (and therefore
shouldn't be confused with) the physical objects that carry or afford it. I
give examples and discuss this and other problematic beliefs about
information in an article published in *Library Trends 63*(3), though it is
written primarily for information professionals and thus may bore some FIS
readers.

(b) If information were physical, it couldn't be in two places at once,
suggesting that information transfer would cause the source to lose the
sent information. If we apply the type/token distinction we can instead say
that in a case of successful information transfer the receiver obtains a
token of the correct information *type* (i.e,. the same type as the
source's token). Since types are *abstract*, so is information. Timpson
argued this about Shannon information in his influential PhD dissertation
about the nature of quantum information, and I adapted it to non-Shannon
information in a short paper that will appear in this year's *Canadian
Association for Information Science *conference proceedings.

(c) In my experience, examples that seem like demonstrations of physical or
natural information can be restated or explained with sufficient physical
causes and effects and* no mention* of information. This and the above
problems suggest information is not truly present in such cases (if
information isn't physical, non-living objects can't exchange it) but is
instead a convenient fiction superimposed by those describing the transfer.
Indeed, when I have tasked biologists to explain where *exactly* the
information *is *in DNA, it always remained couched in figurative speech
and eluded confident identification with some physical entity.

So, while it may be counter-intuitive (as Alex and Karl noted) to state
that information transfer does *not* happen between non-living objects, I
find it *unsound* to state that it does, and appeasing intuition is a
desideratum, not a criterion, of the work of scientists and philosophers: I
believe we owe more fidelity to knowledge than to common parlance or
intuition, which are mercurial. I don't believe this means such views of
information shouldn't be adopted for *use* -- the productivity of
information theory or DNA 'information' is undeniable -- just that we
should be careful *how* and *how far* we let our convenient fictions extend
into theorising about and characterisation of *information*. But I continue
to follow this topic with an open mind and look forward to reading others'
views.

Regards,
Jesse David Dinneen
McGill University



On Sun, Mar 26, 2017 at 1:17 PM, Moisés André Nisenbaum <
moises.nisenb...@ifrj.edu.br> wrote:

> Dear Bob.
> I agree 100%. We must classify information in abiotic and biotic, but, in
> my opinion, both are parts of "information".
> Some scientists, including Tom Stonier, tried to define information
> considering the syntactic and semantic aspects of information.
> Can we draw a parallel between these concepts?
> Abiotic <--> syntactic <--> Shannon <--> machines
> Biotic <--> semantic <--> human
> Shall we abandon the insights from Shannon theory to construct a theory of
> information (unified and non reductionist)?
>
> Attached a draw to illustrate the Von Newmann - Shannon talking :-)
>
> Um abraço
>
> Moisés
>
>
>
>
> 2017-03-26 11:30 GMT-03:00 Bob Logan <lo...@physics.utoronto.ca>:
>
>> Hello Krassimir - I agree with the sentiments you expressed - they seem
>> to parallel my thoughts.
>>
>> I am often  puzzled by the use of the term ‘information’ in the way it is
>> often used by physicists re the info of material objects . The way the term
>> information is used in physics such as Wheelers its from bits does not
>> conform to my understanding of information as a noun describing the process
>> of informing. How can abiotic matter be informed as it cannot make any
>>  choices and hence cannot be informed. Living organisms make choices and
>> use information to make those choices for all living creatures from
>> bacteria to humans including physicists :-). The only information involved
>> in the uses by physicists describing our universe of the word information
>> is that associated with physicists becoming informed of what is happening
>> in the universe they observe. I am happy that they want to discuss this
>> info but I believe there is a need to distinguish between info (biotic) and
>> info (abiotic) as used in physics. The use of a single word information for
>> both categories is confusing, at least it is for me. This ambiguity reminds
>> me of Shannon's use of the term entropy to define his notion of information
>> having taken the advice of Von Neumann.  A story is told that Shannon
>> did not know what to call his measure and von Neumann advised him to call
>> it entropy because nobody knows what it means and that it would therefore
>> give Shannon an advantage in any debate (Campbell, Jeremy 1982, p. 32  
>> *Grammatical
>> Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life. *New York: Simon and
>> Schuster. ).  Shannon defined information in such a way that he admitted
>> was not necessarily about meaning. Information without meaning has no
>> meaning for me.  Kind regards to all - Bob Logan
>>
>>
>>
>> ______________________
>>
>> Robert K. Logan
>> Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto
>> Fellow University of St. Michael's College
>> Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD
>> http://utoronto.academia.edu/RobertKLogan
>> www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Logan5/publications
>> https://www.physics.utoronto.ca/people/homepages/logan/
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Mar 26, 2017, at 5:39 AM, Krassimir Markov <mar...@foibg.com> wrote:
>>
>> Dear Brian, Arturo, Karl, Alex, Lars-Goran, Gyuri, and FIS colleagues,
>>
>> Thank you for your remarks!
>>
>> What is important is that every theory has its own understanding of the
>> concepts it uses.
>> For “foreigners”, theirs meaning may be strange or unknown.
>> Some times, concepts of one theory contradict to corresponded concepts
>> from other theory.
>>
>> For years, I have met many different definitions of concept “information”
>> and many more kinds of its use.
>> From materialistic up to weird point of view...
>>
>> To clear my own understanding, I shall give you a simple example:
>>
>> CAN THE CAN DRINK BEER ?
>>
>> CAN THE CAN EXCHANGE BEER WITH THE GLASS ?
>>
>> The can is used by humans for some goals, for instance to store some beer
>> for a given period.
>> But the can itself “could not understand” its own functions and what the
>> can can do with beer it contains.
>> All its functionality is a human’s  consciousness model.
>> Can cannot exchange beer with the glass if there are no human activity or
>> activity of additional devices invented by humans to support this.
>>
>> Further:
>>
>> CAN THE ARTIFICIAL LEG WALK  ?
>> You know the answer ... Human with an artificial leg can walk ...
>> All functionality of artificial leg is a result from human’s
>> consciousness modeling and invention.
>>
>> In addition:
>>
>> IS THE “PHYSICAL INFORMATION” INFORMATION ?
>> If it is, the first question is how to measure the quantity and quality
>> of such “information” and who can do this?
>> I prefer the answer “NO” – “physical information” is a concept which
>> means something else but not “information” as it is in my understanding.
>> From my point of view, “physical information” is a kind of reflection
>> (see “Theory of reflections” of T.Pavlov).
>> Every reflection may be assumed as information iff (if and only if) there
>> exist a subjective information expectation to be resolved by given
>> reflection.
>> For physical information this low is not satisfied. Because of this, I
>> prefer to call this phenomenon simply “a reflection”.
>>
>> And so on ...
>>
>>
>> Finally:
>>
>> Human been invented too much kinds of prostheses including ones for our
>> intellectual functionalities, i.e. many different kinds of electronic
>> devices which, in particular, can generate some electrical, light, etc.
>> impulses, which we assume as “information”; usually a combination of
>> impulses we assume as s structure to be recognized by us as “information”.
>>
>> A special kind of prostheses are Robots. They have some autonomous
>> functionalities but are still very far from living consciousness. The level
>> of complexity of robot’s consciousness is far of human’s one. Someone may
>> say that robots understand and exchange “information”, but still they only
>> react on incoming signals following the instructions given by humans.
>> Theirs functioning is similar to human ones but only similar. They may
>> recognize some structures of signals and exchange such ones with other
>> robots or living creatures. Maybe someone wants to call this “information
>> exchange”, but, after Shannon, I call this “sending and/or receiving
>> signals”. And automatic reaction to signals.
>>
>> One may say, the Robot (Computer) memory  contains information but really
>> it does not contain anything – it has its own structure which can be
>> changed temporally of permanently by external electrical impulses.
>> Is the human memory the same – a structure which can be changed
>> temporally of permanently by external or internal signals? I think – yes,
>> It is!
>> What is the difference? Why we may say that the living creatures process
>> information but not living couldn’t?
>> The answer is: because the living creatures may create and resolve the
>> “information expectation” with very high level of complexity.
>> Maybe in the future robots will can do it ...
>> Such robot I call “INFOS”. It will be artificial living creature.
>> Possibly with some biological elements.
>>
>> It will be very interesting and amazing to see how the can can drink beer
>> :-) And very dangerous – where the beer will be kept if the can can drink
>> it?
>>
>> I hope, now it is clear why I assert that (now!) non-living objects COULD
>> NOT “exchange information”.
>>
>> Friendly regards
>> Krassimir
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> *From:* Karl Javorszky <karl.javors...@gmail.com>
>> *Sent:* Friday, March 24, 2017 8:24 PM
>> *To:* Alex Hankey <alexhan...@gmail.com>
>> *Cc:* Krassimir Markov <mar...@foibg.com> ; Arturo Tozzi
>> <tozziart...@libero.it> ; FIS Webinar <fis@listas.unizar.es>
>> *Subject:* Re: [Fis] non-living objects COULD NOT “exchange information”
>>
>> 1) Let me second to the point Alex raises:
>> machines, computers, do exchange information. It would be against
>> cultural conventions to say that the notification that the refrigerator
>> sends to your phone's app "to-do-list" of the content "milk only 0.5 liter
>> available" is not an information.
>>
>> The signals my car's pressure sensor sends to my dashboard, saying "tire
>> pressure front right wheel is critically low" is a clear case of
>> information, whether I read it or not.
>>
>> 2) Let me add to the point Alex states, namely that the "form of
>> information that I presented to FiS a year ago offers the only
>> scientifically based,mathematical physics form of 'information' that I have
>> personally seen in the scientific literature", (Alex, will you please
>> restate in the present context, for the present discussion, your
>> formulation) the following:
>>
>> I have given in my work "Natural orders - de ordinibus naturalibus" (ISBN
>> 9783990571378) the following definition of the term "information":
>> 8.3.3.3             Information is a description of what is not the case.
>> [Let *x = a**k*. This is a statement, no information contained. Let *x =
>> a**k* and *k **<symbol for is_included_in> {1,2,...,k,...,n}*. This
>> statement contains the information *k **<symbol for is_not_included_in>*
>> *{1,2,...,k-1,k+1,...,n}*.]
>> (Sorry for the included & not-included symbols not making it thru the
>> simplified  text editor in use here.)
>>
>> Karl
>>
>>
>> 2017-03-24 18:51 GMT+01:00 Alex Hankey <alexhan...@gmail.com>:
>>
>>> BUT, in common parlance, computers and mobile phones 'exchange
>>> information' (in the abstract, digital sense) all the time. Including this
>>> email.
>>>
>>> If you wish to cleanly restrict yourself to semantic content, the the
>>> form of information that I presented to FiS a year ago offers the only
>>> scientifically based,mathematical physics form of 'information' that I have
>>> personally seen in the scientific literature.
>>>
>>> Best wishes,
>>>
>>> Alex Hankey
>>>
>>>
>>> On 24 March 2017 at 15:25, Krassimir Markov <mar...@foibg.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Dear Arturo and FIS Colleagues,
>>>> Let me remember that:
>>>> The basic misunderstanding that non-living objects could “exchange
>>>> information” leads to many principal theoretical as well as psychological
>>>> faults.
>>>> For instance, photon could exchange only energy and/or reflections !
>>>> *Sorry for this n-th my remark ... *
>>>> Friendly greetings
>>>> Krassimir
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> *From:* tozziart...@libero.it
>>>> *Sent:* Friday, March 24, 2017 4:52 PM
>>>> *To:* fis@listas.unizar.es
>>>> *Subject:* [Fis] I: Re: Is information truly important?
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Dear  Lars-Göran,
>>>> I prefer to use asap my second FIS bullet, therefore it will be my last
>>>> FIS mail for the next days.
>>>>
>>>> First of all, in special relativity, an observer is NOT by definition
>>>> a material object that can receive and store incoming energy from other
>>>> objects.
>>>> In special relativity, an observer is a frame of reference from which a
>>>> set of objects or events are being measured.  Speaking of an observer is
>>>> not specifically hypothesizing an individual person who is experiencing
>>>> events, but rather it is a particular mathematical context which objects
>>>> and events are to be evaluated from. The effects of special relativity
>>>> occur whether or not there is a "material object that can recieve and store
>>>> incoming energy from other objects" within the inertial reference frame to
>>>> witness them.
>>>>
>>>> Furthermore, take a photon (traveling at speed light) that crosses a
>>>> cosmic zone close to the sun.  The photon "detects" (and therefore can
>>>> interact with) a huge sun surface (because of its high speed), while we
>>>> humans on the Earth "detect" (and can interact with) a much smaller sun
>>>> surface.
>>>> Therefore, the photon may exchange more information with the sun than
>>>> the humans on the Earth: both the photon and the humans interact with the
>>>> same sun, but they "detect" different surfaces, and therefore they may
>>>> exchange with the sun a different information content.
>>>> If we also take into account that the photon detects an almost
>>>> infinite, fixed time, this means once again that it can exchange much more
>>>> information with the sun than we humans can.
>>>>
>>>> In sum, once again, information does not seem to be a physical
>>>> quantity, rather just a very subjective measure, depending on the speed and
>>>> of the time of the "observer".
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> *Arturo Tozzi*
>>>> AA Professor Physics, University North Texas
>>>> Pediatrician ASL Na2Nord, Italy
>>>> Comput Intell Lab, University Manitoba
>>>> http://arturotozzi.webnode.it/
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> ----Messaggio originale----
>>>> Da: "Lars-Göran Johansson" <lars-goran.johans...@filosofi.uu.se>
>>>> Data: 24/03/2017 14.50
>>>> A: "tozziart...@libero.it"<tozziart...@libero.it>
>>>> Ogg: Re: [Fis] Is information truly important?
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> 24 mars 2017 kl. 13:15 skrev tozziart...@libero.it:
>>>>
>>>> Dear Fisers,
>>>> a big doubt...
>>>>
>>>> We know that the information of a 3D black hole is proportional to its
>>>> 2D horizon, according to the Bekenstein-Hawking equations.
>>>>
>>>> However, an hypotetical observer traveling at light speed (who watches
>>>> a black hole at rest) detects a very large black hole horizon, due to
>>>> Einstein's equations.
>>>> Therefore, he detects more information from the black hole than an
>>>> observer at rest, who sees a smaller horizon…
>>>>
>>>> An observer is by definition a material object that can recieve and
>>>> store incoming energy from other objects. Since it requires infinite
>>>> energy  to accelerate even a slighest object to the velocity of light, no
>>>> observer can travel at the speed of light. That means that your thought
>>>> experiment is based in inconsistent assumptions and no vaild conclusions
>>>> from them can be drawn.
>>>> Lars-Göran Johansson
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> In sum, information does not seem to be a physical quantity, rather
>>>> just a very subjective measure...
>>>>
>>>> *Arturo Tozzi*
>>>> AA Professor Physics, University North Texas
>>>> Pediatrician ASL Na2Nord, Italy
>>>> Comput Intell Lab, University Manitoba
>>>> http://arturotozzi.webnode.it/
>>>>
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Fis mailing list
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>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Lars-Göran Johansson
>>>> lars-goran.johans...@filosofi.uu.se
>>>> 0701-679178
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
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>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> Alex Hankey M.A. (Cantab.) PhD (M.I.T.)
>>> Distinguished Professor of Yoga and Physical Science,
>>> SVYASA, Eknath Bhavan, 19 Gavipuram Circle
>>> Bangalore 560019, Karnataka, India
>>> Mobile (Intn'l): +44 7710 534195 <+44%207710%20534195>
>>> Mobile (India) +91 900 800 8789 <+91%2090080%2008789>
>>> ____________________________________________________________
>>>
>>> 2015 JPBMB Special Issue on Integral Biomathics: Life Sciences,
>>> Mathematics and Phenomenological Philosophy
>>> <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00796107/119/3>
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>
>
> --
> Moisés André Nisenbaum
> Doutor em Ciência da Informação (IBICT/UFRJ)
> Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro - IFRJ
> Campus Rio de Janeiro
> moises.nisenb...@ifrj.edu.br
>
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