Dear Friends,

It is always a refreshing experience to read the FIS discussion. Please
allow me to contribute a thread which may turn out to be useful. First, I’d
like to draw a parallel between FIS and the contemporaries of Mendel, then
discuss similarities between the concepts of “information” and “genetics”,
as viewed thru the mirror of Mendel’s work, and close by a constructive
proposal with regard to the subject-matter of information.

   1. Mendel and the concepts of his contemporaries

There was a drastic climb-down from elegant, important, high-level,
complicated, exclusive concepts as the scientific community had to accept
that hereditary traits are passed down the generations according to the
rules of combinatorics. There is much less glamour in 1:2:1 and 9:3:3:1
than in “divine will”, “mysteries of Nature”, “preordained destiny” etc.

Mendel was offering his contemporaries a simple, household, non-glamorous
explanation, based on elementary, everyday rules, based on proportions of
natural numbers. He had used garden peas to demonstrate his ideas on, not
dragons to be slain, unicorns to be ridden, angels to be observed dancing
on the tip of needles or any other fancy stuff. Just plain numbers.

Does anyone remember today the shmocks ignoring Mendel? Mendel’s motto was:
“My time shall certainly come.”

   1. Concepts hidden behind words

While his contemporaries had been industriously producing hot air, Mendel
did his experiments. Today, we do not need garden peas because we can
simulate garden peas by entries in databases. Mendel observed relations
coming from contrasting one kind of properties of garden peas with other
kinds of properties of garden peas. We do away with actual garden peas and
contrast properties of one kind of database entries with other kinds of
properties of database entries. Believe it or not, the system functions
without actual garden peas, too. There appear specific patterns if one
contrasts differing properties of elements of one and the same set of

Having learnt quite a lot since the times of Mendel, we can these days use
abstract concepts, like “objects” as symbols for actual things like “garden

His contemporaries could not understand Mendel, because they were enchanted
by glitzy, fascinating, fashionable words and could not believe that ideas
of such unexciting greyness as proportions among natural numbers could
express the relations dominating in Nature much better than their ideas of
phlogiston and destiny. Mendel could not make himself understood by his
contemporaries, because he had lacked the words for the concepts for
“sequence”, “chromosome”, “haploid”, “triplet”, etc.

The principle discovered by Mendel is that Nature can be depicted by using
natural numbers. Once a few generations have wasted their time trying to
ignore natural numbers, their grandchildren have gained the insight to look
for something that agrees to the principles laid down by the rules of

Today, the attention of FIS is drawn to relations between natural numbers.
It remains to be seen, how many generations have yet to pass until future
scientists will say: “Well, let us look into what is not happening if we
cause something to happen.”

   1. What is information and how do we detect it

 In psychology, information is usually understood to mean the difference
between expectation and observation. To be more general and understandable,
one may call it the contrast between the foreground and the background. For
those who have grown up on the teachings of Shannon, this makes not much
sense, as of a universe of {0,1}, that what is not the case is the
background to that what is the case. Once one has a universe of, say,
{0,1,2,3}, the background is /if, say, “1” is the case: {0,2,3,}/ the
others. The difference to the Shannon concept is that the background is not
uniformly the background, but rather: the background does have properties
which one can (not: perceive, but) theoretize about. The differences within
the background are our garden peas.

There are many, very interesting, quite educative relations among the
elements of the background. FIS is invited to climb down from discussing
phlogiston and destiny, and spend time usefully by looking into relations
among natural numbers. The time will certainly come when people will
understand that science is not glamour. Hollywood is glamour. Science is

Thanks to MDPI, a simple google entry “mdpi karl javorszky” will bring you
to the relevant literature.


2017-09-20 2:00 GMT+02:00 Koichiro Matsuno <>:

> On 19 Sept 2017 at 1:26 AM Terrence W. DEACON wrote:
> the science of information is still at an early stage and could be
> potentially held back by the hubris of certainty.
>    Although I do not want to muddy the waters further, the distinction
> between information (to whom; or only to the statistician?) and physical
> sciences as we know them today may be in need of clarifying the nature of
> space and time underlying both the issues. So, suppose a fair coin toss
> game. If the tossing is repeated, the probability of heads or tails up
> would be just fifty-fifty. However, the outcome of each individual
> tossing-up would be either head or tail, and by no means in between like
> the fifty-fifty. What is more, the coin in focus assumes participation of a
> durable agent for repeating its toss-up.
>    The statistician takes for granted the participation of the ordinary
> space and time or the static spacetime exclusive to the block-universe when
> the fifty-fifty probability is addressed. On the other hand, the agent
> involved in tossing the coin up is uncertain about the outcome of the next
> toss-up while the results of the preceding attempts already done remain
> definite. The future toward the capricious agent of tossing it up is open,
> while the content of the past has already been definitively fixed. The
> spacetime to such a playful agent is dynamically variable in distinguishing
> between the definite past and the indefinite future. The nature of the
> content of time differs between the past and the future. Information as an
> identifier of the distinction between the definite past and the indefinite
> future goes beyond the scope exclusive to the standard physics limited to
> the static block-universe, in the latter of which both the past and the
> future are definitively determinate at the present in a static manner.
> Nonetheless, there seems to be some hope in quantum mechanics in
> circumventing the present stalemate inflicting a heavy body blow on the
> stymied block-universe physics.
>    If both the occurrence of a pure quantum state and its measurement
> could happen to be likely in a natural or experimental setting, such a pure
> state may obtain its duration with probability unity under the conditions
> that the frequency of repeated measurements can be enhanced without facing
> any limit, thanks to the quantum Zeno effect. The quantum player underlying
> such a quantum toss-up game could turn out to be quite steady and durable
> rather than merely being capricious. Biology upholding a durable
> organization of a concrete particular nature seems to take full advantage
> of durable individual events of QM origin.
>    Although information seems to be quite a newbie in the
> philosopher-dominating time-honored discipline addressing the hard issue of
> what both space and time may look like, it might be able to enjoy some
> chance of bringing in something new empirically there.
>    Koichiro Matsuno
> *From:* Fis [] *On Behalf Of *Terrence
> *Sent:* Tuesday, September 19, 2017 1:26 AM
> *To:* Foundations of Information Science Information Science <
> All of these claims and counter-claims are null hypotheses - hypothetical
> axioms yet to be tested, both for logical coherence and empirical
> usefulness. Place your bets. Mine are on contrary assumptions: i.e.
> non-Turing computability, fundamental incompleteness, and a deep
> entanglement between information (including reference and functional value)
> and its necessary physical substrates. Of course for this to be science all
> need to eventually yield testable hypotheses. This level of controversy
> over basic issues indicates to me that the science of information is still
> at an early stage and could be potentially held back by the hubris of
> certainty.
> — Terry
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