Re: [Fis] Causation is transfer of information

2017-03-28 Thread Robert E. Ulanowicz
In order:


I agree. For example, if one identifies information with constraint, the
notion of information as causation becomes tautologous. It also feeds into
the notion of "It from bit"!


I agree, best to remain as catholic as possible in our conception of the


Spot-on! Feedbacks among non-living components provided the cradle for the
early emergence and proliferation of information. (See p147ff in

Cheers to all,
Bob U.

> Dear all,
> Just to comment on the discussion after Terrence's apt cautionary words...
> The various notions of information are partially a linguistic confusion,
> partially a relic of multiple conceptual histories colliding, and
> partially
> an ongoing negotiation (or even a war, to state it less creditably and
> with
> less civility), about the future of the term as a (more or less unified)
> scientific concept.
> To latch onto that negotiation, let me propose that an evolutionary
> approach to information can capture and explain some of that ambiguous
> multiplicity in terminology, by showing how pre-biotic natural processes
> developed feedback loops and material encoding techniques - which was a
> type of localised informational emergence - and how life, in developing
> cellular communication, DNA, sentience, memory, and selfhood, rarified
> this
> process further, producing informational processing such that had never
> existed before. Was it the same information? Or was it something new?
> Human consciousness and cultural semiosis are a yet higher level
> adaptation
> of information, and computer A.I. is something else entirely, for - at
> least for now - it lacks feelings and self-awareness and thus "meaning" in
> the human sense. But it computes, stores and processes. It might even
> develop suprasentience whose structure we cannot fathom based on our
> limited human perspective.  Is it still the same type of information? Or
> something different? Is evolution in quality (emergence) or only in
> quantity (continuous development)?
> I generally take the Peircean view that signification (informative
> relationality) evolves, and information, as an offshoot of that, is thus a
> multi-stage process - EVEN if it has a simple and predictable elemental
> substructure (composed of say, 1s and 0s, or quarks and bosons).
> Information might thus not only have a complex history of emergence, but
> also an unknown future, composed of various leaps in cosmic organization.
> In ignorant wonder, all the best,
> Otto Lehto,
> philosopher, political economist,
> PhD student at King's College London,
> webpage:,
> cellphone: +358-407514748
> On Mar 28, 2017 23:24, "Terrence W. DEACON"  wrote:
>> Corrected typos (in case the intrinsic redundancy didn't compensate for
>> these minor corruptions of the text):
>>  information-beqaring medium =  information-bearing medium
>> appliction = application
>>  conceptiont =  conception
>> On Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 10:14 PM, Terrence W. DEACON
>> wrote:
>>> Dear FIS colleagues,
>>> I agree with John Collier that we should not assume to restrict the
>>> concept of information to only one subset of its potential
>>> applications.
>>> But to work with this breadth of usage we need to recognize that
>>> 'information' can refer to intrinsic statistical properties of a
>>> physical
>>> medium, extrinsic referential properties of that medium (i.e. content),
>>> and
>>> the significance or use value of that content, depending on the
>>> context.  A
>>> problem arises when we demand that only one of these uses should be
>>> given
>>> legitimacy. As I have repeatedly suggested on this listserve, it will
>>> be a
>>> source of constant useless argument to make the assertion that someone
>>> is
>>> wrong in their understanding of information if they use it in one of
>>> these
>>> non-formal ways. But to fail to mark which conception of information is
>>> being considered, or worse, to use equivocal conceptions of the term in
>>> the
>>> same argument, will ultimately undermine our efforts to understand one
>>> another and develop a complete general theory of information.
>>> This nominalization of 'inform' has been in use for hundreds of years
>>> in
>>> legal and literary contexts, in all of these variant forms. But there
>>> has
>>> been a slowly increasing tendency to use it to refer to the
>>> information-beqaring medium itself, in substantial terms. This reached
>>> its
>>> greatest extreme with the restricted technical usage formalized by
>>> Claude
>>> Shannon. Remember, however, that this was only introduced a little over
>>> a
>>> half century ago. When one of his mentors (Hartley) initially
>>> introduced a
>>> logarithmic measure of signal capacity he called it 'intelligence' —
>>> as in
>>> the gathering of intelligence by a spy organization. So had 

[Fis] Causation is transfer of information

2017-03-28 Thread John Collier
I wrote a paper some time ago arguing that causal processes are the transfer of 
information. Therefore I think that physical processes can and do convey 
information. Cause can be dispensed with.

  *   There is a copy at Causation is the Transfer of 
Information In Howard Sankey (ed) 
Causation, Natural Laws and Explanation (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1999)

Information is a very powerful concept. It is a shame to restrict oneself to 
only a part of its possible applications.

John Collier
Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Associate
Philosophy, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Fis mailing list

[Fis] a limited response

2017-03-28 Thread Emanuel Diamant
Dear FIS colleagues,


As usual, I would like to begin with apologies. I apologize that because of
the gaps in my education I can only partially understand what is being said
in most of your mails. Therefore, I will only partially respond to those
segments of your posts that seem to me to be in the limits of my


To Karl Javorszky: 

At March 24, you wrote: "I have given in my work "Natural orders - de
ordinibus naturalibus" (ISBN  9783990571378) the following definition of the
term "information": Information is a description of what is not the case". 

I do not know "what is not the case", but I salute and welcome your
statement that "Information is a description." I am also using (for a quite
a long time now) a similar definition: "Information is a description of
structures observable in a given data set". 

By saying this, I do not pretend to claim for priority or credits - all
credits must be directed to A. Kolmogorov who in his 1965 paper "Three
approaches to the quantitative definition of information" was the first who
has introduced the concept.

As all the other researchers of his time, Kolmogorov has developed his
information quantity measure for a linear one-dimensional communication
message data set. I have expanded and extended Kolmogorov's definition to a
two-dimensional data set. In a two-dimensional data set two types of
structures could be distinguished: primary (basic) data structures and
secondary (meaningful structures of structures) data arrangements. According
to the offered definition the descriptions of the discerned structures
should be called - Physical and Semantic Information. Further details on the
subject could be found in my publications on the Research Gate
( or on my site


To Sungchul Ji (introduced in Pedro C. Marijuan's post from March 23, 2017):

>From your presentation "Planckian information: a new measure of order" I was
pleased to learn something new about Planckian information - a newborn kind
of information. Although you are not familiar with the notion of information
as a complex two-part entity (Physical and Semantic information
subdivisions), you truthfully posit Planckian information as a physical
information exemplar similar to other representatives of the class such as
Shannon information, Fisher, Kolmogorov, Chaitin, and other. 

In your words: "The Planckian information represents the degree of
organization of physical (or nonphysical) systems.", "Planckian information
is primarily concerned with the amount (and hence the quantitative aspect)
of information.  There are numerous ways that have been suggested in the
literature for quantifying information bedside the well-known Hartley
information, Shannon entropy, algorithmic information, etc. " (That is,
Planckian information is one of them (one of the physical information
manifestations), not a foe, not a competitor, not a foreigner or an


It has to be mentioned that such an approach is not predominant in FIS
discussions. The mainstream way of thinking looks like this: "complaining
about Shannon entropy as a measure of information is completely justified
because it is steam-engine physics unfortunately still widely used despite
its many flaws and limitations"; and further "Shannon entropy should not
even be mentioned any longer in serious discussions about information"
( And finally:
"(there is an) urgent need to move away from entropy towards algorithmic
information" ( 


I hope these unfriendly winds will not make an impression on you. I wish you
a speedy and a comfortable accommodation in the FIS community. 


Best regards,

Emanuel Diamant.


Fis mailing list

Re: [Fis] Can the can drink beer ?

2017-03-28 Thread Gyorgy Darvas

Dear FIS-ers,

1) A can is empty or filled. Its "emptiness" or "filledness" is an 
information. This is an objective property. It is independent of whether 
a conscious being perceives it or not. I generally argue for this 
non-subjectivity of information.

2) There is an information change when a filled can loses its content, 
independent of whether a conscious being pours the content, or that 
happens as a result of a damage by an earthquake.

3) Information is transmitted between two telephone exchange centers via 
wires (or wireless) by the way of electromagnetic impulses. Generally it 
is initiated by conscious human beings, and received by another (if one 
answers the call, or detects at her/his computer). In certain cases, the 
impulses can be modified by outside magnetic waves originating from the 
space, e.g., from the Sun. It is also a part of the transmitted 
information, and no "conscious information-processor" takes active part 
in it.

This *information*(by its nickname e-mail), transmitted to you, has been 
in your computer even before you read (and perceived) it.

Best, Gyuri

On 2017.03.26. 11:39, Krassimir Markov 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:
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.

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:
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 ...
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 

Re: [Fis] non-living objects COULD NOT “exchange information”

2017-03-28 Thread John Collier

John Collier
Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Associate
Philosophy, University of KwaZulu-Natal

From: John Collier
Sent: Tuesday, 28 March 2017 9:39 AM
To: 'darvasg' 
Subject: RE: [Fis] non-living objects COULD NOT “exchange information”

I wrote this a few days ago, but it is still worth posting. I might add that 
biological entities making choices grades off into cases where there is only 
one choice. If determinism is true, then there are no real choices. If it is 
false, that doesn’t help either.

There are cases that I have given references to on this list in which 
information, but no energy leads to step climbing, indicate transformation of 
information into energy. Though the example was constructed by experimenters, I 
see nothing that could not result from a fortuitous set of physical 
circumstances. The movement could be used to trigger an informational even 
(turn a switch, for example, or select a quantum state), though turning 
information into information.

I suspect there are simpler examples, and leave the list to come up with the. 
All I wanted to do was to demonstrate principle.  We tend to give almost 
magical properties to life. Thai violates my understanding of General Systems 
Theory, which applies the same principles to all systems from top to bottom, 
rather than trying to find everything in the lowest levels, as in physicalism.

John Collier
Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Associate
Philosophy, University of KwaZulu-Natal

From: Fis [] On Behalf Of darvasg
Sent: Saturday, 25 March 2017 11:40 AM
To:; Krassimir Markov 
Subject: Re: [Fis] non-living objects COULD NOT “exchange information”

Dear Krassimir,

They can

For details, see my contrinution to the 2015 Vienna IS4IS meeting and following 
publications of the proceedings!

Best, Gyuri

24.03.2017 16:25 időpontban Krassimir Markov ezt írta:
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 
For instance, photon could exchange only energy and/or reflections !
Sorry for this n-th my remark ...
Friendly greetings

Sent: Friday, March 24, 2017 4:52 PM
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 

Arturo Tozzi
AA Professor Physics, University North Texas
Pediatrician ASL Na2Nord, Italy
Comput Intell Lab, University Manitoba

Messaggio originale
Da: "Lars-Göran Johansson" 
Data: 24/03/2017 14.50
Ogg: Re: [Fis] Is information truly important?
24 mars 2017 kl. 13:15 skrev

Dear Fisers,
a big doubt...

We know that the information of a 3D black hole is