[Fis] Meaning and mind

2013-04-16 Thread Robin Faichney
As Loet, Krassimir and Karl (at least) have all said (or as I take
them to have said), meaning is inherently subjective, or at best
intersubjective, but certainly not objective. That is why an
understanding of information has to be tightly integrated with an
understanding of mind. See my paper “Mind, Matter, Meaning and
Information” http://triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/323/437

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[Fis] Paradigmatic diversity

2012-11-20 Thread Robin Faichney
I hope this doesn't seem arrogant, but I feel it appropriate to
reiterate and emphasize some recent themes:

There is only one ruler in each domain, but there are many domains. A
mechanistic (in the broadest, perhaps fashionable sense) understanding
at one level or set of levels does not necessarily conflict with a
human-centric understanding at a different level or set. Being humans,
after all, there is nothing more natural to us than an anthropocentric
stance. But it should be recognised for what it is, and not extended
to inappropriate realms. The distinction between arts and humanities
on one side and sciences on the other is no longer as clear as it once
seemed, but it cannot just be dropped and forgotten altogether. The
horse must be chosen to suit the course. There is no single almighty
king, thank god!

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Re: [Fis] The Information Flow

2012-11-13 Thread Robin Faichney
Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 3:57:10 PM, Bob wrote:

 ... But for me the interesting phenomena where the logic of
 cause and effect does not hold is the case of emergence and
 self-organization. With an emergent system in which the properties
 of the system can not be derived from, reduced to or predicted from
 the properties of the components the notion of cause and effect does
 not hold. The reductionist program of logical thinking does not do
 much to understand emergent phenomena. It is not that logic is wrong
 it is that it is irrelevant. So if one is an emergentist one cannot
 be a mechanist. That is simple logic. ;-)

Don't know if I'm an emergentist or not. On one hand, I do not believe
in the cannot be derived from, reduced to or predicted from
condition because it seems intrinsically subjective, perhaps even
circular. But on the other hand I do believe that complex systems are
generally just as real and just as significant as their components,
higher level explanations being generally just as good as lower level
ones, and only the purpose for which the explanation is required
determines which level is most appropriate. I also believe that
causation can only be considered to occur horizontally, along levels
of explanation. That is because causation is inherently temporal,
effects following causes, and there is no passage of time in vertical
forays into higher or lower levels of description/explanation. There
is no vertical causation.

However, I do consider myself a mechanist, because as I see it, one
high level event can always be decomposed into a number of lower level
events, and eventually, if the process is repeated, a level will be
reached at which all of the events can be clearly understood as
mechanical. The lower level ones do not CAUSE the highest level one,
because they are occurring simultaneously, but they COMPOSE it, and
there is no mysterious other element to it. Having said which, if the
high level event is to be causally explained, other events on the same
level will have to be involved in the explanation, a low level story
will NOT do the job.

So I believe I've reconciled emergence with mechanism, but I suspect
that whether you agree with me depends on what you consider to be
essential to emergence. Or how strongly you feel about mechanism. Or,
of course, maybe I've just made a silly mistake. :)

(Some say that levels of description/explanation are not real (Don
Ross?), and I don't know whether that's a reasonable thing to say or
not, but they're certainly indispensable to us.)

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Re: [Fis] Aspects of the Logical Philosophy of Information

2012-07-02 Thread Robin Faichney
I'm sorry I missed this first time around.

On 2012/06/22 at 02:29 PM, in message 4fe46543.6050...@aragon.es,
Pedro C. Marijuan pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es wrote:
 The concept of form can
 hardly been maintained along the complexification of information realms...

Sorry Pedro, I have to disgree with this. For me, complex forms are
just as conceivable as simple ones (though I'll admit that maybe
wasn't always the case). Would you accept that, for example, the
pattern of neural activity associated with a pleasurable sensation is
a form? Or the totality of paths traced by all solar orbiting bodies
whose mass is = 1g? (Thinking of examples is actually quite fun but
I've leave it at that.)

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Re: [Fis] Absence and life

2012-05-18 Thread Robin Faichney
Friday, May 18, 2012, 2:55:25 PM, Robert Ulanowicz wrote:

 Another difference between Terry's narrative and my own is that he
 keeps referring to the absential in terms of constraints. But  
 constraints are specific realities, not the absence thereof.

I'm a little doubtful about that, I got the impression that he views
constraints as causing absence, rather than being themselves
absential.

However, he seems to view semantics as absential, which to me is a
great mistake: inter/subjective, yes, but absent, no.

I must admit I have not read the book, merely viewed an on-line
presentation of some of the ideas:
http://fora.tv/2012/04/18/Incomplete_Nature_How_Mind_Emerged_From_Matter

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Re: [Fis] Physics of computing

2012-04-17 Thread Robin Faichney
Hi Bruno,

This is very interesting for me, my approach to information is via the
mind-body and hard problems, and I'm sympathetic to
computationalism. On the other hand, I have difficulties understanding
much of what you say here. Let me focus on one point for now though.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 8:48:48 AM, Bruno wrote:

 Let me sketch the reasoning shortly. If I can survive with a
 digitalizable brain, then I am duplicable. For example I could, in
 principle, be read and cut in Helsinki (say) and pasted in two
 different places, like Moscow and Washington (to fix the thing).

 The subject to such a duplication experiment, knowing the protocol
 in advance, is unable to predict in advance where he will *feel to
 be* after the duplication. We can iterate such process and prove
 that at such iteration the candidate, seeing if he feels to be in W
 or in M, receive a bit of information, and that his best way to
 predict his experience, will be, in this case, to predict a random
 experience (even algorithmic random experience): like WWMWWWMMMWM
 , for example. That is the first person indeterminacy.

It seems to me that, if I believe I am duplicable, and understand the
protocol, I must predict that I will experience being in both Moscow
and Washington. The process bifurcates one person, who becomes two
people with absolutely identical physique and memories immediately
afterwards, which will then begin to diverge. Both, looking back to
pre-bifurcation times, will say that was me, and both will be
correct. There is no essence to be randomly (or non-randomly)
assigned to one location and not the other. The individual is now two
people and therefore can be and is in both cities.

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Re: [Fis] Physics of computing

2012-04-17 Thread Robin Faichney
Hi again Bruno,

Heeding Pedro's kind reminder, this is my second and therefore last
message to the list this week. However, I'll be happy to continue the
discussion off-list (and to copy in any others who signal their
interest).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 10:57:41 AM, Bruno wrote:

 The guy know all this in advance. He knows that if comp is true, he
 will survive the duplication, and that, in all possible future
 personal situation, he will feel to be in only one city, with an
 inferred doppelganger in the other city.

No, in my view he will experience being in each city (both cities)
with an inferred doppelganger in the other city, because he is
one before the procedure and two after. This is very counter-intuitive
regarding personal identity but it is the logical consequence of your
assumptions.

 So, if he is asked in Helsinki where he will feel to be, he can
 only answer that he will feel to be in W or in M, but without being
 able to be sure if he will feel to be in W or that he will feel to be in M.

Looking forward, pre-bifurcation, the rational expectation is that his
identity will split, so that both post-bifurcation versions are
genuinely him, and there is no reason for the pre-bifurcation version
to choose either city as his destination, he genuinely has two
simultaneous destinations, in this scenario one person
(pre-bifurcation) can be in two places at once (post-bifurcation).

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Re: [Fis] Discussion of Information Science Education

2011-12-04 Thread Robin Faichney
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 8:43:47 PM, Gavin wrote:

 I was reading Richard Dawkins book “the greatest show on earth” and
 almost fell over backwards when I read his comments about life and
 information. He says the only difference between living matter and
 non living matter is information. That would be the most conjectural
 statement I have ever read. There is not one scrap of evidence or
 test or mathematical model to prove this statement.

Don't you find it strange to think that such a successful and
prominent scientist, recipient of many honourary doctorates and other
awards* and former Professor of the Public Understanding of Science,
would take such a position?

Is it not much more probable, a much more conservative hypothesis,
that Dawkins means something different by information than you do?

I'd suggest that, if people want to promote information science,
Dawkins is someone they should be following. He's probably done more
for public recognition of the place of information in science than
anyone else has or is likely to do in the near future. Though Stephen
Hawking, with his work on the black hole information paradox, should
not be neglected.

(I wrote to Dawkins in the early nineties suggesting that life could
be defined as the survival of information. I'd love to say that he got
the idea from me, but in fact he replied saying that it was true, but
obvious! I have the handwritten letter (actually my own letter
returned with his notes in the margin) carefully stored because I
think some day it might be valuable!)

* See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins#Awards_and_recognition

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Re: [Fis] [Fwd: Re: FW: Meaning Information Theory] ---From Gavin

2011-10-24 Thread Robin Faichney
Title: Re: [Fis] [Fwd: Re: FW: Meaning Information Theory] ---From Gavin


Although I accept neither the title ("Meaning Information Theory") nor
Gavin's description of the content, he tells me that my ideas, among
others, are what he's referring to below, so in case anyone's
interested, my website address ishttp://www.robinfaichney.org. (The
main relevant aspects have been described here before, as well as at
DTMD2011, but I'd welcome further discussion if anyone is so inclined.)

Robin

Monday, October 24, 2011, 5:22:08 PM, Pedro wrote:





Message from Gavin Ritz




On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 12:02 AM, Gavin Ritz garr...@xtra.co.nz wrote:


Stan, John list members

I have had a number of off list email dialogue with list members, from this
list and others.

There seems to be a group of listers that have a Theory of Meaningful
Information (It’s not Shannon’s mathematical Information theory), it’s all
about meaning and electrical communication (I guess in this case
neurological).

The common links seem to be Dawkins, Dennett, Searle and a few others.

Does anyone have any clear propositions, with their logical arguments,
evidence. tests, corroboration, modeling, conceptual mathematics, proofs,
for this Meaning Theory of Information. It also seems to include memes.

I am unable to find any clear propositions with their proofs, it all seems
like smoke and mirrors too me. At one point it becomes sort of Shannon’s
mathematical theory then it spoofs into something like Philosophy meaning
arguments (Like Ogden Richards), then it spoofs into living matter and DNA,
then reappears as cultural units, then energy/matter representations.

Is The Meaning Information Theory a shape shifter. Is it the one size fits
all, theory.

What exactly is this Theory, where did it come from, what is it, what is its
proposition, and if there is one how can it be tested, corroborated, where
and how can we gather the evidence.


Regards
Gavin

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Re: [Fis] Information as form conveyed by data

2011-10-06 Thread Robin Faichney
Title: Re: [Fis] Information as form conveyed by data


Thursday, October 6, 2011, 7:24:09 AM, Loet wrote:





ØThere are two ways we can use the idea "in-form".

Yes, this is the other notion of information. Shannon-type information does not inform, but is counter-intuitively defined as uncertainty (or probabilistic entropy) and measured, for example, in bits of information. It is based on probability distributions.



Surely Shannon information is not uncertainty, but its opposite: the reduction of uncertainty. And it has that in common with meaningful or semantic information.





Bateson (1973) and many others did define information as a difference which makes a difference.






Probability distributions contain only differences. If these first-order differences make a difference in a second dimension then a system of reference is assumed for which the first-order difference may make a difference. This system of reference may then discard some incoming information as noise and provide meaning to other information. Perhaps, it is useful to call this meaningful information (or observed information) as different from the expected information (or uncertainty) in the case of Shannon-type information.



I find it useful to view Shannon information as "pure pattern". But that might be specific to my particular interest in it, which is its relationship to physical information. (I don't mean that in other contexts it might be wrong to view it that way, but it might not always be the most useful way to look at it.)





The system of reference does not have to be an observer as is often presumed in the cybernetic tradition; it can also be discourse. Does this contribution make a difference for the discourse?



Who or what but an observer can make that judgement? Only to a mind is anything ever meaningful. I read "a difference that makes a difference" as "a significant difference", and only a mind can judge significance.





The two notions of information are to be kept apart because otherwise the discussion becomes confused.



I certainly agree with that!

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Re: [Fis] Chemical information: a field of fuzzy contours ?

2011-10-01 Thread Robin Faichney
Thursday, September 29, 2011, 11:11:36 AM, Michel wrote:

 *** Karl:

[Karl's last paragraph:]
 As to the assertion of a colleague that the term information can not
 be subject to a formal definition: if one wants to use a term in a
 rational, logical discourse, then the term has to be defined. If we
 are to remain in the romantic stage, where information is like
 love, patriotism, morality or so, then of course there is no
 need to connect the term to the basis of rational discourses.
 Otherwise, the need to explicate the roots of a term by showing its
 fundaments in a+b=c is of elementary importance.


 *** My reply to Karl:

 Ok to avoid the mix of the stuff and its reception.

 In the addition table: did you meant that having 5 has a result of
 an addition of two positive integers, the missing information is: was
 it got from 1+4, 2+3, 3+2, or 4+1 ? If yes, that's indeed a very
 simple situation helping to define what is information. If I am wrong,
 please just tell me.

That is also my impression of Karl's contribution: an example of
information, not a definition of it.

 The suggestion you did in the last paragraph is of much interest, too.
 I hope that FISers will post comments about it.

I hope I'm not the colleague mentioned there, because that's most
certainly not my position. I believe I offer one of the clearest
definitions of information (and, of course, the only correct one!) And
I certainly disagree with the implication that all proper definitions
are mathematical in form.

[Gavin:]
 I think the danger is actually there is no such thing as information.

 *** My comment about the inexistence of such information:

 That is a main point to discuss, and again I hope that FISers will
 post their opinions about it.

So do I!

 *** My reply to  Robert:

 It does not shock me that chemical reactions are considered as part of
 physics, even if chemical reactions are often used to separate the two
 fields for pratical purposes.
 Since biology is often viewed as part of chemistry, it can be viewed
 as physics too (still does not shock me!), but I'm quite sure that
 such a conclusion is polemical: this discussion may be postponed to
 the next FIS session, focussing on biology, despite that it is of
 interest here.

I think there's a big difference between saying, as I do, that in
principle all chemical and biological phenomena can be reduced to
physics, and saying, as I most certainly do not, that the disciplines
of chemistry and biology are or should be part of the discipline of
physics. That would be just an academic land grab and I'd want no part
of it.

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Re: [Fis] Chemical information: a field of fuzzy contours ?

2011-09-23 Thread Robin Faichney
Friday, September 23, 2011, 1:07:07 PM, Michel wrote:

 Now, I ask you the following: please can you provide an extremely
 simple example (the most simple you could imagine) of situation in
 which you can say:  in this situation, information is ... .
 Chemical information is welcome, but an example from physics would be
 great, too.

I'm no physicist but I'm interested in physical information. It
continues to amaze me how little attention is paid by most
non-physicists to the very well established concept of information in
physics.

Of course, there is no law or formula that relates a bit of
information to, say, quarks, spin, or whatever. These are different
ways of looking at the same thing. Spin is a bit of information (I
think it's just one bit, but I might be wrong, as I said, I'm no
physicist.)

Physical information is a re-conceptualisation of material form that
allows it to be quantified. So, for example, physicists can (and do)
say that information is generally conserved within black holes. (See
the Black Hole Information Paradox, and the bet between physicists
concerning it,
http://www.theory.caltech.edu/~preskill/jp_24jul04.html)

Now, there is obviously more to semantic information than material
form, but it is my strongly-held belief that it should be possible to
relate all other concepts of information back to physical information,
and, in fact, I have proposed a way of doing that for semantic
information, which I presented at the DTMD2011 workshop (I've also
mentioned it in previous posts on this list), but I'll say no more
about it here, because I think that's going too far off the current
topic.

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Re: [Fis] meaningful information

2011-07-21 Thread Robin Faichney
 and response systems
 range fromthe chemical configurations that govern genes and cell life to the
 relativelysimple tropisms that guide single-cell organisms, the rudimentary
 nervoussystems of invertebrates, and the complex neuronal structures of
 mammals andprimates. The scope of meaningful information that can be 
 detected
 andresponded to reaches its peak in our own species, as exemplified by our
 specialabilities in language, cognition, emotion, and consciousness, all of
 which areexplored within this new framework.
 
 The book's home page can be found at:
 http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/evolutionary+%26+developmental+biology/
 book/978-1-4614-0157-5
 
 I am eager tofind out what members think about it.
 
 Anthony Reading
 
 
 
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 -
 Pedro C. Marijuán
 Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
 Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
 Avda. Gómez Laguna, 25, Pl. 11ª
 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
 Telf: 34 976 71 3526 ( 6818) Fax: 34 976 71 5554
 pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es
 http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
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Re: [Fis] meaningful inforamtion

2011-07-20 Thread Robin Faichney
Title: Re: [Fis] meaningful inforamtion


Hi Pedro and Anthony,

Valentino Braitenberg has a book out this year in German:Information - der Geist in der Natur

My knowledge of German is dismal, but it seems to be about information as the "spirit" or "mind" of nature. This would be consistent with a quotation of his fromLuciano Floridi, editor,Philosophy of Computing and Information: Five Questions, 2008, p16:

The concept of information, properly understood, is fully sufficient to do away with popular dualistic schemes invoking spiritual substances distinct from anything in physics. This is Aristotle redivivus, the concept of matter and form united in every object of this world, body and soul, where the latter is nothing but the formal aspect of the former. The very term “information” clearly demonstrates its Aristotelian origin in its linguistic root.

Anthony talks about form too, of course, but I'm afraid I find his concept of "meaningful" information to be somewhat dualistic -- but maybe I just haven't understood his view of the relationship between meaningful information and material form.

Robin

Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 12:38:03 PM, Pedro wrote:





Thanks, Anthony, for the info on your book. As you will see during future discussion sessions (currently we are in the vacation pause) some parties in this list maintain positions not far away from your own views. In our archive you can check accumulated mails about the matter you propose --e.g. discussions during the last spring. But I think you are right that the whole biological scope of information has been rarely discussed. best wishes ---Pedro

FIS website and discussions archives: seehttp://infoscience-fis.unizar.es/


aread...@verizon.netescribió:
I emailed an earlier version of the following contribution to the listserve a few days ago and am interested in finding out if it is suitable for dissemination and, if os, when it might be included. My main interest is in promoting discussion about the approach it takes to dealing with the observer-dependent aspects of information.

My book " Meaningful Information: The BridgeBetween Biology, Brain and Behavior' has just been published by Springer. Itintroduces a radically new way of thinking about information and the importantrole it plays in living systems. Thiså opens up new avenues for exploring howcells and organisms change and adapt, since the ability to detect and respondto meaningful information is the key that enables them to receive their geneticheritage, regulate their internal milieu, and respond to changes in their environment.The types of meaningful information that different species and different celltypes are able to detect are finely matched to the ecosystems in which theylive, for natural selection has shaped what they need to know to functioneffectively within them. Biological detection and response systems range fromthe chemical configurations that govern genes and cell life to the relativelysimple tropisms that guide single-cell organisms, the rudimentary nervoussystems of invertebrates, and the complex neuronal structures of mammals andprimates. The scope of meaningful information that can be detected andresponded to reaches its peak in our own species, as exemplified by our specialabilities in language, cognition, emotion, and consciousness, all of which areexplored within this new framework.

The book's home page can be found at:http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/evolutionary+%26+developmental+biology/book/978-1-4614-0157-5

I am eager tofind out what members think about it.

Anthony Reading





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Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud

Avda. Gómez Laguna, 25, Pl. 11ª

50009 Zaragoza, Spain

Telf: 34 976 71 3526 ( 6818) Fax: 34 976 71 5554

pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es

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Re: [Fis] BBC Doco; Cell

2011-03-28 Thread Robin Faichney
Monday, March 28, 2011, 12:05:54 AM, Gavin wrote:

 Even at the most basic level of an organism's communication with its
 environment. There is no discernable information exchange. Every single one
 of our senses is an energy transduction structure-processing unit. All we do
 is transduce say light and sound energy to electrical energy. This much is
 pretty well established.

I think you need to think about what the light and sound, on one hand
-- or rather one side of the transduction -- and electrical energy, on
the other side, have in common. These are carriers for patterns, and
it is the patterns that are carried by light, sound, electricity,
whatever, that constitute the information. So the informational
analysis is a higher level one, relative to matter and energy, a
useful (to some, at least) way of looking at patterns embodied in
material/energetic processes.

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[Fis] To Stan and Bob, on physical information

2011-02-02 Thread Robin Faichney
In the interests of focusing on what I see as the main issues, I've
made quite a few deletions.

Monday, January 31, 2011, 3:26:06 PM, Stanley wrote:

 On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:42 AM, Robin Faichney ro...@robinfaichney.org 
 wrote:

 I'm no mathematician, but I believe that the
 broader  significance  of  Shannon's  work was a method of quantifying
 pure  pattern.  This  was  then  adopted  by physicists who saw that
 material  form  can  be treated as pure patterns, and thus we get such
 concepts as the conservation of information in quantum mechanics and
 in  black  holes.

 Are 'pure patterns' three dimensional?

Sorry, but doesn't dimensionality depend upon interpretation?

 I tend to feel the same way about it from bit, but I think it should
 perhaps  be  taken as implying that the idea of substance derives from
 form,  which to me is highly plausible.

 So, form here is potentiality.  But where could this come from without some 
 constraints?

No, I said the idea of substance. We actually encounter only form,
because that's what our senses convey -- but we find the concept of
substance useful.

 Etymologically,  information is extremely closely related to form,

 Strongly agree. Its function then is to constrain entropy production.

I understand form as a reconceptualisation of qualities, so for me it
does not have any particular function, but is rather an aspect of
material reality (albeit an extremely comprehensive one). The concept
of form as constraint I think might not apply to the lowest levels of
explanation, and might be limited to a subset of all qualities.
(Maybe, if it does not apply to the lowest level, it is necessarily
limited to a subset of qualities.)
 
 and  the  concept  of  information  used in physics simply IS material
 form,  where  that is generalised from shape to encompass all material
 properties.  Just as past and future states of affairs are encoded in
 the  present,

 I suppose this takes into account historicity?  Via statistics?

That snippet concerns physical determinism, not (directly) history,
statistics or any other higher level analysis.
  
  so  genetic  information  is encoded in DNA. Biological
 information  is  just a subset of physical information. DNA molecules,
 like  all  physical  entities,  encode  the  outcomes  of all of their
 potential  interactions,  but  in  the  case  of  DNA the outcomes are
 constrained by the cellular context.

 But we now know that there is a good deal of material manipulation
 and modification in between DNA code and protein complexes.  You
 could say that the DNA information is generic, while what emerges from 
 metabolism is particular.

You're right, I should have said in the case of DNA the outcomes
are constrained by the cellular context as influenced by the extra-
cellular environment.

 I'm  currently  working  on  a paper in which I argue that intentional
 information   --   using   intentional   in  Brentano's  sense,  and
 encompassing  meaning  and  all  mental  content -- is best considered
 encoded  in  physical/biological  information,  being  decoded in use.

 But the DNA stuff is generic, use is particular.

I'm sorry that wasn't more clear. By biological information in that
case I meant not DNA but, primarily, brain structure and function,
which is obviously much more directly related to mental content.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 12:10:17 AM, Robert wrote:

 On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:42 AM, Robin Faichney  
 ro...@robinfaichney.orgwrote:

 Dear Robin,

 I have always wondered what physicists meant when they talked about  
 conservation of information, because Shannon-like measures are  
 definitely not state variables, and hence not conserved. For example,
 information is continually being created and destroyed in ecological  
 systems.

Yes, of course, organisms die and decay. I suppose what physicists
mean is that the sort of information in which they are interested, ie
at the levels that concern them, is conserved.

However, what I'm interested in is the information, not whether,
where or to what extent it is conserved: that is merely an
illustration of the use of information in physics, for me, I'm no
physicist, and I'm afraid I can't help with such issues. We all have
to specialise!

-- 
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/


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[Fis] On Stan's reply to Gavin

2011-01-31 Thread Robin Faichney
Saturday, January 29, 2011, 9:39:09 PM, Stanley wrote:

 On Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 6:41 AM, Gavin Ritz garr...@xtra.co.nz wrote:

 SS: Info theory presumably applies to everything and anything.

 GR: It was never intended to apply to anything but communication
 instruments. That is sending English language down a pipe.

 S: Since it was abstracted from human communication systems, it has
 taken on a 'life of its own', as any abstraction has a right to do.  

I   agree   with   this.  I'm no mathematician, but I believe that the
broader  significance  of  Shannon's  work was a method of quantifying
pure  pattern.  This  was  then  adopted  by physicists who saw that
material  form  can  be treated as pure patterns, and thus we get such
concepts as the conservation of information in quantum mechanics and
in  black  holes.  Conservation  of information can be translated as
meaning   that   physical   laws  do  not break down, and the state of
affairs  at  one  time  can  be  considered  encoded in the state of
affairs at another time. For instance, events within the event horizon
of  a  black hole (or, on the holographic principle, on the surface of
the  event  horizon) could, in principle, be determined by examination
of the Hawking radiation that escapes as the hole diminishes.

 I think
 the crux of the matter is being examined right now -- is information
 ('bit') primal or is stuff ('it') primal?  In my view there needs to
 be stuff in order for there to be a perspective, and there needs to
 be a perspective before there is anything to communicate.

I  share  your  focus  on  perspective (and also context), but I'm not
clear why perspective requires stuff -- but see below.

 Information is an abstraction related closely to form, which it is
 supposed always could be translated to instructions in a computer,
 creating 'bits' from inspection of 'its'.  Then the supposition is
 that The World also reckons with information, leading to 'its from
 'bits' .  This, to me, is implausible. 

I tend to feel the same way about it from bit, but I think it should
perhaps  be  taken as implying that the idea of substance derives from
form,  which to me is highly plausible. We can take the view that form
is  what  we encounter -- at all levels, personally and scientifically
--  and  substance  a  theoretical entity or set of such. This view is
related  to  philosophical  idealism,  and  is,  like that, I believe,
strictly irrefutable. By the same token, being unverifiable, it has no
practical  consequences. Which is more real, or which came first, form
or substance? These questions are, strictly speaking, meaningless.

Etymologically,  information is extremely closely related to form,
and  the  concept  of  information  used in physics simply IS material
form,  where  that is generalised from shape to encompass all material
properties.  Just as past and future states of affairs are encoded in
the  present,  so  genetic  information  is encoded in DNA. Biological
information  is  just a subset of physical information. DNA molecules,
like  all  physical  entities,  encode  the  outcomes  of all of their
potential  interactions,  but  in  the  case  of  DNA the outcomes are
constrained by the cellular context.

I'm  currently  working  on  a paper in which I argue that intentional
information   --   using   intentional   in  Brentano's  sense,  and
encompassing  meaning  and  all  mental  content -- is best considered
encoded  in  physical/biological  information,  being  decoded in use.
Perspective is obviously highly relevant here, but it seems to me that
it  can  probably  be  explained  in  (literally)  formal  terms, that
substance  as such need not enter the picture, but perhaps I'm missing
something?

-- 
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/


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Re: SV: [Fis] info meaning

2007-10-07 Thread Robin Faichney




Friday, October 5, 2007, 1:53:51 PM, Loet wrote:








Dear colleagues,

I agree with a lot of Christophe Menant's last mail, but I think that I can take it a step further.

The _expression_ of Bateson "A difference which makes a difference" presumes that there is a system or a series of events for which the differences can make a difference. This system selects upon the differences (or Shannon-type information) in the environment of the system. The Shannon-type information is meaningless, but the specification of the system of reference provides the information with meaning. The Shannon-type information which is deselected is discarded as noise.





That's (at least approximately) what I mean when I say that intentional information is always encoded in physical information. Intentional information is the ordinary concept of information and is meaningful. Physical information is very closely related to Shannon information and has no intrinsic meaning, being mere physical patterns -- on this conceptualisation, which is widely accepted within physics, all physical patterns are treated as Shannon-type information. Intentional or semantic information, on the other hand, requires a context, which plays the part of a decoding key. Thus semantic information, or meaning, is always encoded within physical patterns.







Meaning is provided to the information from the perspective of hindsight.





I don't think "hindsight" is strictly correct, because it implies a conscious "looking back", whereas the processing of meaning (decoding) often occurs prior to consciousness.







The meaningful information, however, still follows the arrow of time.Meaning processing withinpsychological and social systems reinforces the feedback arrow (from the hindsight perspective) to the extent that control tends to move to this next-order level. The system can then become anticipatory because the information which is provided with meaning can be entertained by the system as a model. Perhaps, human language is required for making that last step: no longer is only information exchanged, but information is packaged into messages in which the information has a codified meaning.





Modelling is certainly what allows anticipation, but some modelling, at least, does not require language: consider catching a ball that's thrown to you. You model the trajectory, I would suggest, in order to put your hand in the right place at the right time, but language is obviously not involved there. Of course you might say that meaning plays no part in that scenario, but I think it's a very big mistake to deny a continuum from significance of any sort at one extreme to the highly abstract and sophisticated meanings of the messages on this list, at the other. What both extremes have in common is the concept of use, as in Wittgenstein's later view of meaning: it is our use, I would suggest, of physical patterns, that encodes significance and meaning within them, and the modelling of a trajectory has significant similarities with the modelling of correspondents and their intentions (though significant differences too, of course).

--
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/



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Re: [Fis] about fis discussions (2)

2007-06-16 Thread Robin Faichney




Friday, June 15, 2007, 12:30:07 PM, Pedro wrote:







Perhaps we have not achieved a clear demarcation from mechanics yet, theoretically speaking. And that may be another serious problem in itself. In what is different the informational from the mechanical? Or in my own terms: Distinction from the Adjacent versus Force from the Adjacent ?





Can I suggest that the form/substance dichotomy is worth considering in this context? The concept of physical information, well established within physics though still controversial for some, basically corresponds to form. Etymologically, "information" derives from "form". I'd argue that "informational" is synonymous with an important if uncommon sense of "formal".

The distinction between numerical and qualitative identity seems crucial here. Physical entities are numerically distinct, even when qualitatively identical. Forms, on the other hand, are qualities: if two instances are qualitatively identical, then there's just one form. That, to my mind, is the basic feature of information. This concept is purely syntactic, which for many people is a problem, but I believe that the philosophical problem of meaning can and should be clearly distinguished from the question "what is information"? The concept of form is, I think, more fundamental than that of distinction: both distinctions and similarities are formal features. Information concerns similarities as well as differences.

Unfortunately, I don't have the background to present my views formally (to use a different sense of that word), but I'm more than willing to discuss them in such an informal setting as this.

--
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/



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Re: [Fis] Mind, matter, meaning and information

2007-03-19 Thread Robin Faichney
, such as aspects of interpersonal relationships. Is
this what you have in mind?

Though the physical stance is very natural and practical in many 
contexts, the

formal stance is superior in a certain sense: information is all that our
senses convey, we do not experience matter directly, it can be considered a
theoretical entity (or set of entities).
  S: The word experience here is critical.  Our experience (and
 meanings) is engendered by our formal organization.  Matter is what is
 organized, and so could not itself be the content of experience (or
 meaning) even though it is the carrier (channel).

Here at last we seem to have unambiguous agreement.

A mind is a user or processor of intentional information.
  S: That is to say, it initiates finality.

Perhaps, I don't think in these terms.

 Matter is a theoretical entity extrapolated from physical information.
  S: Presumably physical information, then, relates to an array of
 possibilities generated by a situation, from which the formal setup
 (context) will select some given a nudge informed by an intentional
 tendency.

Physical information is simply material form. Any physical process
involves contextual selection, but a perfectly static arrangement of
entities embodies physical information too, by virtue of the fact that
it has some form.

Having looked at your home page, I see we have very different concepts
of form. You suggest {energy - {matter - {form - {organization
but I see form as occurring simultaneously with energy, in fact as
more-or-less synonymous with quality. Whatever has qualities, has
form. Perhaps you limit form to instances of stability?

I'm fairly confident that matter can reasonably be considered a
theoretical entity, but I'm now having some doubts about saying that
it's extrapolated from physical information, because it can be argued
that we don't have direct access to that either, all we experience
being intentional information, so physical information is theoretical
too. This needs more thought.

Meaning is intentional information (though multiple levels of en/decoding
might
be involved), and consciousness is the use or processing of
intentional information.
  S: Again, then: mind = matter + meaning.

Perhaps, but I think I'm saying rather more than that.

--
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/
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Re: [Fis] Mind, matter, meaning and information

2007-03-19 Thread Robin Faichney

Probably my last message for a while, as I said. Thanks again for your
help.

Subject: Re: [Fis] Mind, matter, meaning and information

[body begins]
Saturday, March 17, 2007, 2:24:37 PM, Stanley N. Salthe wrote:

A mind is a user or processor of intentional information.
  S: That is to say, it initiates finality.

Perhaps, I don't think in these terms.
  SS: Well, using 'intentionality' seems to me to implicitly use
 finality. Consider {propensity {purpose}}.  Intent is necessarilly
 directional, and directionality is all that is left is the particular goal
 is removed.

OK, now I understand why we keep failing to connect. In philosophy of
mind intentionality refers to the concept revived by Brentano,
meaning aboutness. It has nothing to do with intent except that,
like all other mental phenomena, intent is intentional, i.e. there's
some content, there must be something that you intend to do. I agree
with Brentano that intentionality is the mark of the mental, because
everything that's mental is intentional, and everything that's
physical is not.

Intentionality is central to my thinking, so I don't think there's any
point in continuing this particular exchange. If you'd like to start
again on the basis of this revised understanding then I will respond,
but otherwise I'll keep quiet for a while, as I said in my previous
message, replying to John. I'm really sorry to have wasted your time
by failing to allow for the fact that not everyone who's interested in
information has a phil of mind perspective.

--
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/
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[Fis] Mind, matter, meaning and information

2007-03-13 Thread Robin Faichney
.  Philosophical Investigations.  Blackwell, Oxford, 1972.
Translated by G.E.M.  Anscombe.  First published in 1953.

--
Robin Faichney
http://www.robinfaichney.org/


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