Re: [Fis] replies to several. The Key to Time

2011-05-25 Thread Ted Goranson
 of time from the 
 tenses. When the constant update of the present perfect tense in the present 
 progressive tense is referred to in the finished record,  we can perceive the 
 flow of time as driven by the transitive verb “update” in the present tense, 
 though only in retrospect. This updated version of the flow of time in 
 retrospect exhibits a marked contrast to the flow of time riding on the 
 intransitive verb “flow” in the present tense unconditionally, the latter of 
 which is common to the standard practice of physical sciences even including 
 relativity.  The occurrence of the perfect tense is due to the act of 
 measurement of material origin distinguishing between the before and after 
 its own act, while its frequent update in the progressive tense will be 
 necessitated so as to meet various conservation laws such as  material or 
 energy flow continuity to be registered in the record, e. g., not to leave 
 the failure in meeting the flow continuity behind. The KaiC hexamers of 
 cyanobacteria are involved in the constant update of the prefect tense in the 
 progressive tense.

This point is not one essential to my program. If we can usefully model the 
times and dynamics of the two worlds in integrated fashion, that is enough. We 
don't have to go further with the philosophical exercise of generating one from 
the other. Moreover, I question the wisdom of this because it assumes a 


Ted Goranson

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2011-04-09 Thread Ted Goranson
Thank you Mark. This promises to be interesting.

My view may best be introduced by stating that I believe we are in the business 
of creating a new science that will depend on new abstractions. These 
abstractions will extend from the notion of information as a first class 
citizen, as opposed to our default, the particle. The latter has qualities 
that can be measured and in fact the very idea of metrics is bound to this 
notion of thingness.

Because we will not leave existing theoretical tools behind, we need a bridge 
between the abstractions of effect in the particle model (fields and forces) 
and the corresponding effect in the information model. I am fine with 
extending the metaphor far enough to say that we need something like 
parametrics in our new science of information. But I really balk at using the 
notion from one system in another without some sort of morphism.

Much of the dialog here works with the problem of naming what that it is. 
Unfortunately, the abstractions of fields and forces are a very poor formal 
model, because they are defined not by their essence but by their metrics. 

Having said that...

 1.Is it necessary/useful/reasonable to make a strict 
 distinction between information as a phenomenon and information measures as 
 quantitative or qualitative characteristics of information?

I am rather certain that there is a very real distinction, because of how we 
define the problem. After all, we are not asking how do information and 
information metrics fit within the confines of rather limited abstractions. At 
least I am not. But the distinction does not allow for full orthogonality from 
set theory (the formalism of things), because we want to be able to model and 
engineer observable phenomenon in a cleaner way. This should be the test of any 
serious proposal, in my view.

This requirement is why discussion on these matters often moves into category 
theory, after the fashion of Barwise and others. A spanning morphism can extend 
the notion of parameters to information space, but only when considered in the 
situation of that origin (meaning measurable space in the traditional sense). 

 2.Are there types or kinds of information that are not 
 encompassed by the general theory of information (GTI)?

I believe so. Some types clearly have laws that affect the world, which is how 
you scope the types covered by GTI. But just as particle physics finds it handy 
to have virtual particles and transcendent symmetries over them, so will we 
have information types that do not touch the world in an observable way; these 
will be required to support clean laws of behavior, yet to be convincingly 

 3.Is it necessary/useful/reasonable to make a distinction 
 between information and an information carrier?

I suppose you will get universal agreement on this, at least here. But...

I was just at NIH at a rather introspective conference on structural biology, 
which assumes that the form of the carriers collectively forms the code of the 
system. They have dropped billions (quite literally) into metrics associated 
with these laws of information form but are ready to abandon the concept as a 
key technique. Clearly there is a system-level conveyance of information that 
carries an organizational imperative. If these can be said to be supported 
with the metaphoric virtual particle with the local interaction governed by the 
form of the carrier, then the answer is both yes and no.

I am intrigued by the notion introduced here recently that suggests 
intelligence as inhabiting this new, non-parametrizable space.

Ted Goranson

Ted Goranson

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Re: [Fis] Poetry, Computers and Information - reply to Zhao

2011-03-03 Thread Ted Goranson
 already know, my name is Beth Cardier and I’m
 completing research at the University of Melbourne, developing a
 computer-friendly model of narrative structure so that knowledge systems
 might eventually interpret unexpected information. I’m in the unusual
 position of having an arts background (I’m a writer) and was later trained
 to consider formal issues of information, for the purposes of system
 design. This swerve in career was the result of involvement in a US
 project, which aimed to address fundamental problems with computer
 reasoning. That program was run by Ted Goranson, who is also a member of
 this forum, and will likely comment soon.

Ted Goranson

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[Fis] A Metacomment

2008-06-26 Thread Ted Goranson
I am entering the discussion not to contribute: this seems to be 
among the best FIS threads I recall.

Instead, I want to open a metadiscussion. The background is that I 
have had some conversation with the board about FIS next steps. I am 
promoting the idea of focused workshops as one activity. This is 
motivated by two factors. One is that I believe that to the extent 
that we have a purpose, that purpose is furthered by producing 
something more targeted and concise than what can be done via flowing 
email. A second is that my company will allow me to sponsor some of 
these assuming that I can make some tenuous case that they further a 
corner of science that is relevant to our work.

This involves models and notations of emergent systems which are 
concerns central to FIS. I literally make a case that the success 
of FIS (or something like it) is critical to the success of my 

So the meta topic that I would like to introduce is this:

There seems to be general agreement that there is some order in the 
unperceived world, supplemented by perceived order. I see some 
differences in where the line is drawn and what the nature of that 
line is. Also what the nature of the implicit order is. We haven't 
touched much yet on how these two might not be conceptually similar. 
Also, we haven't yet mentioned much about the kind of order that may 
illuminate  dynamics of emergence.

If FIS were to host a workshop, say for a few days. And we had some 
sponsorship, say for travel and a facilitator/editor...

And we chose something associated with the current discussion, 
perhaps focusing on the effect and utility of models on order...

1) What would be a reasonable agenda for such a project: scope, focus, goals?

2) What purpose would it serve in a scientific context?

Let me start the metaconversation by repeating something I have said 
before. I think we are at the threshold of a new science that 
provides a better, deeper set of principles for understanding things 
in terms of self-organizing systems.

I believe that it will help address problems that seem very hard or 
impossible with standard methods, and indeed insist that to be the 
definition of new science.

Therefore, I would propose that the workshop focus on something like 
a specific problem, and work through issues of models, notations, 
order, emergence. In the worst case, the product will be a crisp 
description of the different options, approaches and philosophies 
with possible test protocols. If we are scientists, and as passionate 
and insightful as the discussion shows, we may as well get serious, 

Ted Goranson
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[Fis] Info, meaning narrative

2007-10-12 Thread Ted Goranson
 experience that match mine will be drawn to your attention. My 
verbal representations indicate the shape of my inner situation 
(emotional, intellectual, pictorial), which stimulates you to form a 
mirror model. Through further exchange of details, we might match our 
constellations more closely or grow them towards each other. 
Newspapers are fast to write and read because the templates of 
association are fixed, so the interpretative and assembly work is low.

So I agree when Guy describes meaning as information that resonates 
with the structure of a system. Image association occurs not only 
within a story, but communicates because it matches existing 
narrative patterns in culture, as well as patterns in the mind of the 
reader (which are of course related). Perhaps this is what Christophe 
was referring to when he said that meaning is around us. A writer 
uses aspects of large public stories to orientate a reader, whilst 
providing enough local detail to create personal resonance. A writer 
will also add novel threads, to stimulate interest.

Part of what makes a story engaging are these novel, 
non-reinforcing elements. This relates to Stanis comment:

If resonant inputs to a system are nonreinforcing, they contradict 
a system's finalities, and will then elicit learning or avoidance.

No story (or situation) is an exact match for another. I believe 
narrative growth occurs when one pattern is challenged by another 
that is similar but not identical. New parts of a pattern can be 
assimilated (which is the premise behind narrative psychology) or 
under other circumstances, will be avoided (I donit watch speeches by 
the Australian prime minister).

But pattern is not the only aspect of narrative agency. Here is 
perhaps the third difference between artistic and logical models - 
partialness and gradation. In response to Jerry's question about 
precision of communication: on narrative terms, there are degrees of 
fit. I am investigating theories of image association in computer 
science, and one surprising thing (surprising to me) is that most 
models talk in absolutely explicit terms - understanding is either 
achieved or not. In narrative, there are degrees of fit, in the 
same way that stones resting against each other have surfaces that 
connect, and other surfaces that vary in closeness. The areas that do 
not touch are an important part of the system, because the 
dissymmetry of the situation creates relational tension. Tension acts 
like a kind of gravity, urging gaps to be filled, which is a handy 
tool for a writer who wants to make sure their reader keeps turning 

The idea of pattern similarity might distress Steven, because it 
seems to suggest a comparison external to the system. However, in a 
narrative network there is no outside, in the usual sense, because 
everything is conditional on everything else. One story is defined by 
parts of others, a self-referential system. I believe we introspect 
not by stepping into a neutral objectivity but by crossing into 
another story space (some stories are so commonly shared that their 
shape is difficult to detect). Of course they all overlap, and we 
adjust favourite stories as new situations arise. Narrative 
perspective is a system of prisms and lenses, with the angles from 
one body of information informing the angles of the next.

If there are scientific problems with or matches with this narrative 
model, I would be genuinely interested to know.

- Beth Cardier

Ted Goranson
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[Fis] The Goals and Worlds

2007-10-07 Thread Ted Goranson


Thanks for starting out the session so strongly.

Let me first give some context for my remarks. For me at least, the 
agenda here is to collectively toy with notions that can actually 
help us develop better conceptual tools. It isn't so much a matter of 
finding a definition of information that works, that clearly has 
formal footing. Rather its a game of finding among all the 
respectable candidates a notion of information that leads us to new 
theories and insights.

So a good part of the enterprise is deciding what looks good, is 
defensible and even locally useful, but that doesn't give us the 
disruptive leverage we want.

At the highest level, I think, there's a decision each of us has to 
make about the nature of the abstraction space we want to work in. 
Kauffman is famously on record as believing that the preferred space 
is algebraic. He goes further in stating that it is the ONLY space, 
all others illusory, or less fundamental. Without burdening you with 
that rather indefensible weight, its clear to me that what you have 
presented is clearly in this camp.

My argument against it cannot be based on any internal inadequacy: 
algebraic characterizations of the world do work well, well enough to 
have been seen as the default by many.

But consider some of the objections that Pedro raises. I admire his 
attention to the more challenging goals, ones I share, even if I get 
frustrated at how gently he advocates.

Alternatives are to come at this from some similar platform within 
mathematics, like geometric reasoning (Von Neumann, Einstein) 
represented here by some of the quantum interaction discussion, set 
theory where I would place Karl's notions of number-as-indicator, and 
some of Jerry's notational insights (though they deal with categories 
as well). Leyton who is sadly absent steps in and out of groups in a 
clever way that avoids being captured by them. Many of these 
approaches that are inspired by mathematical mechanisms redefine 
entropy and/or Shannon.

Then there's a whole wing here that takes information less from the 
measurement side and more on the causal and builds from the semantic 
foundations we have. I admire these because they truly do add 
something new, and present possibilities for enhancing our formal 
vocabulary. Its a bit distracting that they have to fall back on 
semiotic or philosophic machinery from time to time, but that's why 
we've been at this for years, right?

My own preference is to create a new hybrid that has algebraic tools 
but is not inspired by them, but by the qualities of information that 
come from the semiotic side, somehow escaping the similarly limiting 
frameworks there. Loet seems to be starting from here and working 
with social dynamics. I prefer certain other choices in this, and 
freely admit they are arbitrary and tentative. (Jerry's preference 
for syntactically focused language metaphors, narrative dynamics and 
symmetry operations are all helpful to me.)

Its not my purpose here to argue for them.

I just want to make the establishing point that we are about 
invention first. And perhaps algebra isn't the best starting place. 
It takes the notion of meaning a bit more funadamentally. Somehow, 
I think the biologists and chemists may be worth listening to on 
this, but that may be just a religious view. But itdoes  seem that 
this cusp of introspective apparent selfishness implicit in Pedro's 
and Walter's posts has merit. I read Stanley such that he supports 

Ted Goranson
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[Fis] Fwd: Mail System Error - Returned Mail

2007-03-19 Thread Ted Goranson

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 00:42:32 -0400
From: Ted Goranson [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Subject: Re: [Fis] Mind, matter, meaning and information
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii ; format=flowed

Welcome Robin. You can do little better than to engage John Collier on 
this. I usually agree with him. But in this message, I will try to color 
some of his references a bit differently.

Before we start, you should know that there are several communities here, 
and you may as well get used to the fact that members from different groups 
talk past each other. So when you meet each of us virtually, you probably 
should get an intro as to their basic views.

I interpret the agenda of FIS as having a particular challenge. I believe 
we have need of and are close to a new science, that refactors basic 
abstractions. And that emergent design and information will be the levers 
into this new collection of mechanisms. I think it will be intellectually 
disruptive. I think it will resolve several vexing problems in science and 
greatly better our state. In this, I am not alone.

Others here have a more tempered view. Some come from the semiotic side and 
apply those notions to physics and chemistry. They are a particularly 
articulate group.

Another rather substantial group I will call the statistical machinists who 
go the other way in terms of basic abstractions from physics carried over 
to all phenomenon. They at least have good arithmetic, and that's not be 
taken lightly.

You may think of these groups as revolutionaries, neopeirceans and 
anentropists. While we are pretty levelheaded and generous here - guided by 
the example of our kind host and moderator Pedro - we do tend to stick to 
our own religions.

Now, John said:

The most Wittgensteinian approach to intentionality is, in my opinion, in
Situations and Attitudes by Jon Barwise and John Perry. I think it is flawed,
as it does not properly incorporate standard logic (this is a problem that
Jerry Fodor harps on, a bit excessively perhaps, and to the wrong effect,
but basically he is right).


There is a nice, accessible account of Barwise and Perry in Keith Devlin,
Information and Logic.

John is right about Barwise and Perry, at least initially. But you have to 
place that in perspective: 25 years ago, when situation theory was cooked 
up to deal with a fairly quaint and now forgotten linguistic problem. 
Situation theory in later years under Barwise was used as the basis for a 
rather clever axiomatic approach to formalizing abstraction mechanisms. 
This would hardly be characterized as Wittgensteinian, and by this I think 
you both mean the middle period.

Perry and Israel have stuck with the original notion as John noted. 
Devlin's book doesn't merely describe Barwise and Perry, but rationalizes 
them in a more general domain of formal reasoning.

As it happens, next week I will be with Devlin. You may have gotten the 
impression that situation theory does not properly incorporate standard 
logic. This is incorrect in many uses of the system. Many workers, 
including Devlin with Rosenberg, Barwise in later work, myself with 
Cardier, and Ginzburg and Sag, work with the system as if it were fully 
standard logic plus an axiomatic basis and workable calculus to include 
context or alternatively, draw intention.

Next week with a colleague I am presenting a paper describing an emergent 
situation theory that empowers agent systems with just the sorts of 
abstractions the revolutionaries here might appreciate to create the 
emergent behaviors we observe in the world. This mechanism allows agents to 
build narratives from the bottom up and seemingly addresses some of the 
more vexing problems of the FIS agenda.

Of course John is on solid ground as well with his approach which by his 
vocation needs to be more respectful of the past than mine.

On this, here you will find two different viewpoints. Some will argue that 
what they present is the correct, best, even the only way. Figuratively, 
God must have imagined it so.

I'm with the other camp who believes that all this is a matter of modeling. 
You choose your abstractions and circumspectly invent your logics to suit 
what you wish to accomplish and what needs you have of understanding the world.

Welcome again.

- Ted Goranson

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Re: [Fis] Re: Continuing Discussion of Social and Cultural Complexity

2007-02-02 Thread Ted Goranson

Steven Ericsson-Zenith wrote on 2/2/07:

Or would you argue that war is social complexity management?

Interpreting the term as you have, I would probably present that war 
is merely part of the dynamics of social systems but indicative of 
the inability of single humans (or small groups) to manage 
complexity. And of course using the notion of management opens 
another discussion that may be illustrative of our inability to 
manage the concepts we are about here.

Change the subject


I think we have drifted a bit from the hard problem raised. I do 
believe that there are limits to complexity of any system. I believe 
the limits exhibit not only in the behavior of the system as seen by 
that actions of its members, but also in the abstractions those 
members use in the information that is exchanged.

This group here is all about the nature of that information, yes?

My understanding is that when those information abstractions (which 
evolve with the system) become overloaded, a new level of the system 
is created, with new, cleaner abstractions.

I suppose it may be fruitless to consider the phenomenon from the 
level of societies, unless you want to argue about the existence of 
deities. But it might be - and I am sure of this - fruitful to look 
at layers below us. I think there is a real lesson to be learned in 
looking at how the behavior of physics produces emergent behavior 
that (among other things) breaks abstractions at some level of 
complexity to create the system of chemistry.

I recently heard Jerry Chandler speak on the difference between the 
abstractions inherent in physics and chemistry and was (again) struck 
at what an opportunity this affords for us to understand just what 
complexity is all about and what happens when the threshold of 
management is exceeded.

-Best, Ted

Ted Goranson
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Re: [Fis] Reply to Ted Goranson: levels of description

2006-06-11 Thread Ted Goranson

John Collier wrote on 6/10/06:

At 05:35 PM 6/10/2006, Stanley N. Salthe wrote:

John said:

  Hmm. You should read Barwise and Seligman, Information Flow...

It depends what you mean by logic. The issue is too complicated to 
get into here and now, but the simple answer is that there is no 
non-arbitrary distinction between mathematics and logic. Exactly 
the same reasons apply to the limits of both, and the only way to 
get one more powerful than the other is to apply a double standard 
for proofs and/or acceptability.

Thank you, John.  Good insight.

I sponsored a workshop on a topic near to this, during which Barwise 
said much the same thing. It seems to me that mathematics and logic 
are siblings, perhaps cojoined. I suppose there are other siblings 
not so human-friendly, used by natural objects. Information seems to 
be the light by which we might see them by their shadows.

I'm not surprised that most physicists want to ontologically flatten 
everything into a QM-described truth. What does surprise me is that 
no one has mentioned the inconvenient fact that gravity, that most 
prevalent force in physics, is notably unfriendly to QM.

Best, Ted
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Re: [Fis] General Question: Definition of information

2006-04-27 Thread Ted Goranson
Title: Re: [Fis] General Question: Definition of

Lauri Gröhn wrote on 3/16/06:
On 16.3.2006, at 12.16, Karl Javorszky

Thank you for
focusing on the core of the work. I have tried to find the

main points of
Marcin's general question, which in a way is an answer

Richard's wish for
a definition of information.

I just wonder this:

Must one know the molecule structure of
water before one can swim?

But Lauri, it isn't about swimming but understanding what
swimming is.

I suppose there are all sorts of motivations for this, and I have
pressed FIS to list them because I believe no useful "definitions"
can result unless we scope to what use they are to be put. To stick
with the swimming analogy, my own motivation is to cast the entire
world in all dimensions as much into "swimming" as I can. This
includes my own inept paddling as well as that of other organisms
large and small, chemical and elementary, natural and artificial
(using whatever definition of artificial you wish), in solitary and
societal configurations (again using any notion of

My hope is that the notion of the analogous "swimming" is so
rich and amenable to codifications where necessary that it can serve
as a basis for understanding and participating in the world. Swimming
to me necessarily involves a certain lucidity about the medium.

One can choose to just be blind, I suppose. But they won't be
the folks you'd find here.

So goes my first allowed message of the week. I use this part of
my allowance because it segues into the ethics topic. The link between
ethics and information for me is in the motivation. I choose to
explore building a new science informed by information because in part
it places my mind in the world as an agent in some way as a

With this, I can then use the vehicle of whatever science of
information that results to "carry" notions (presumably retailored
ones) like ethics to cells and particles, and understand both why and
how I swim in the world, but how it swims in me.

Best, Ted


Ted Goranson

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[Fis] The Identity of ProtoEthics

2006-04-27 Thread Ted Goranson
 make the 
nature of the information conveyed more apparent and it is quite 
feasible to describe the world in terms of these messages and the 
processes they invoke. What's more difficult is understanding why.

My collaborator and I have been working on structured urges. Now 
understand, these are urges of molecules as well as humans, and in 
our alternative abstractions roughly substitute for forces and 
fields. And they don't behave smoothly and always deterministically.

So this topic of ethics is apt, very apt for my present work. For me, 
when I read ethics in the emails, I think in terms of the larger 
set of driving motives, and though nearly all the discussion deals 
with persons, I necessarily extend it to all interactions. No matter 
how various are our notions of what FIS is, the idea that the 
principles of information span scale is what binds us in this group, 

I prefer Michael Leyton's viewpoint. Its because you have to assume 
that whatever the urges, they are attached to and satisfy in some 
way, the individual. Defining a society as the collection of 
ethically-bound entities and then imputing the ethics derive somehow 
from society seems circular to me.

Michael also has some ideas about memory and structure that are 
useful to me because they allow a formal mechanics and fit rather 
handily into what it means to see and know something in our way of 
describing the world.

So let me propose a few ideas concerning ethics and information:

Starting with the ordinary notion of things and information and how 
things organize into societal-like structures that become other 
things and so on... FIS supposes that thinking in terms of 
information can provide some new and perhaps universal insights. 
There must be some motivating element that persists in attachment to 
the object as it sends and receives messages. This would be beyond 
matters of grammar and have some evaluative component. It would 
necessary benefit the object by itself in some way, but at the same 
time drive structured, presumably stable associations that benefit 
the system and (most) of its constituents.

It should be modifiable/evolvable by the messages (using Jerry's word 
here). It needs to have identity societally and individually though 
they need not be the same, though I expect some reflexive dynamics to 
be the case.

This is how I think of the category of stuff that we've denoted as 
ethics. I think if we reason this way, we need some new definitions 
of ethics to fit the more universal case. The ethics we know (or 
think we do) in the human case would be only one instance.

If this were the case, and we started, say, with chemistry and 
biomolecular networks, then I think we might say something useful 
about protoethics or whatever we wish to call them.

When we make the switch from ordinary particle/noun representations 
to Ted's urge/verb ones, most thing are turned inside out. The urges 
become the agents, messages transform but some basic mechanics of 
information should be the same in both paradigms. I presume this to 
include the protoethic.

Sorry for the long message.

Best, Ted
Ted Goranson
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