Dear All,

After Xueshan clarion call, I partially change what I was writing. Of course I have to thank him for his support of the 10 principles. Actually, in connection with the recent exchanges, particularly with Gordana's and John (Torday) posts, I was working in some ideas further related to the principles. On the one side the general view on the "new kind of natural science/philosophy" around information, and on the other side the transcendentalism of life... I think they also connect with Xueshan call of synthesis between info disciplines in his last paragraph. Trying to be concise I present herewith three points:

First. "There is Life--and Information."
Second. "We contemplate the World."
Third. "The society around us."

1. Life and Information: In biology, information is the new mantra. All kinds of scientific-technological-entrepreneurial gurus have proclaimed it, based on the revolutionary discoveries and gigantic bio-data accumulations. But scientifically, few people are trying to accommodate a new central theory of biology that could incorporate that new empirical reality of amazing complexity. In my own preliminary approach I describe how the simplest cells confront "the information flows" of their environment and couple them with the inner information flows related to their self-production, always doing it adaptively. Regarding the excellent work that John Torday has done on the evolutionary organizational achievements of multicellulars, as he mentioned, there are ample possibilities of mutual connection... Everything is rather preliminary but at least we can open the door so that other people behind could do it better. In any case, around life and information, we see an amazing world of molecular complexity in action that contains some of the fundamentals of the new info perspective. The living cell can really "perceive" selected portions of the world around (information flow) and regularly intercepts them by means of its sensory apparatus (signaling system). Then it reacts adaptively, modifying its processes and structures according to inner stocks of permanent information (knowledge), sculpting a life cycle, also communicating with other living cells, and really building "molecular meaning" upon the received signals. Besides, the pervasive horizontal gene transfer in microbial ecosystems (phages, viruses, plasmids, sex...) has generated a collective multi-species assemblage or genuine "planetary library" of global molecular knowledge. It is not bombastic, as all planetary cycles of fundamental elements that sustain all present life are based on trillions of molecular machines of prokaryotes that have been churning around for eons. This Molecular Internet of sorts (Sorin Sonea dixit) was the beginning, and made possible so many things that now we may call in so many ways: evolvability, autopoiesis, agency, informational existence, ecological webs, ecosphere, GAIA, etc. We may discuss quite legitimately about information physics, but clarifying first the scientific discourse about biological information by means of a new consistent viewpoint looks a priority (at the same level, at least).

2. Looking at the World: After the incredible complexification of life, nervous systems, etc. we, the improbable, the unexpected, are here. And like our humble bacterial ancestors, we have to confront the world for our individual living, and so we regularly contemplate and are immersed into the quasi-infinite information flows of the environment. But this time, by means of language, acting both as our new social communication tool and as an open-ended symbolic system, our collective capabilities of relating with the world have boomed. And historically we have developed those social repositories or stocks of knowledge we call science and all kinds of accompanying technological tools that allow us a new contemplation and action onto the world around. Now we can sense the most remote perceptions, we can colligate them with the different disciplines, and produce adaptive (or non adaptive) responses, with supposedly the final goal of advancing our lives both individually and collectively. The new kind of science/philosophy to establish around this informational "looking at the world" would demand a new "observer", in this case starting from a differentiated set of disciplinary principles of observation. But that creates a lot of logic and scientific difficulties. Recognizing the limitation of the agent/observer is one of them; leaving open-ended the observable is another. I am aware of the invincible circularity that easily surrounds all of this. So the need of a set of new principles sidestepping the worst problems and allowing fresh new thought. Probably, the easiest part would be the parallel realization of a new synthesis incorporating a new stock of scientific concepts (admittedly, most of them in the making yet); at least it could start by a compendium of the numerous theories around information already existing. At the end, a more "natural" and efficient approach to our limitations in the individual and social handling of "knowledge ecologies" would also emerge...

3. The Society Around: When we look at our societies, what we see along history is that the biggest global changes have always been induced or accompanied by substantial changes in the information/communication flows around individuals: writing, codices, printing press, books, newspapers, new media, computers, internet, social networks... Our societies have always been "information societies." The current acceleration of artificial information flows represents a challenge to the most natural info flows (face to face conversation) so ingrained in our social and psychological adaptation and personal lives. Paradoxically, in the "information society", mental health and wellbeing problems are steadily mounting as public health problems (a terrible escalation of depression and suicides), plus new de-socialization pathologies that are emerging, including the resurgence of nastiest political movements at a global scale. We do not recognize the perils and pitfalls of that intangible "social information" stuff, explosive like nitroglycerine in social milieus when improperly or maliciously handled. In many ways, the advancement of social information science is tremendously important, and I quite agree with the gist of the message just received from Xueshan... we must have a specific session devoted to it.

Along coming weeks, we can progressively ascend along the topics related with the principles, entering into biology, and then to other territories, perhaps until finally confronting the hottest social challenge... At least I will periodically make suggestions in that sense. Maintaining our usual chaoticity is not a bad thing either--as usual navigating in between Scilla and Charybdis.

All the best

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta 0
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)

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