Re: [Fis] "no new and doubtful physical concepts need to be introduced"

2016-07-18 Thread john . holgate

Steven, Joe

I always understood that the action of information is the introduction of 'new 
and doubtful concepts' (Bateson's 'news of a difference that makes a 
difference') and is in fact predicated on doubt, probability, uncertainty. 

John H
 Original Message -
 Dear List,
A few days ago Joseph Brenner wrote the following :
… I conclude that no new and doubtful physical concepts need to be
introduced to address the essential aspects of life, mind, and
information. That information has dual aspects has been more or less
explicit in everything I have tried to write in the last eight years.
This has bothered me from a number of perspectives, it sounds
reasonable but is in fact deeply flawed. I worry that others may take
it seriously and so I step from the shadows. The argument seems to be
an advocacy of dualism and information mysterianism, but I doubt that
Joe sees it this way. 
For example, consider the biophysical motions necessarily involved in
sensation, thought, and consideration when going to the store and the
selective motions when reaching the store. Joe suggests that the dual
aspects of information in a conventional physics is sufficient to
explain these actions or motions, I simply cannot accept this. It is
rather like saying that gravitation and electromagnetism are dual
aspects of matter - and even though we have two clear and mathematical
theories of each no physicist believes that this is the case.
I am especially concerned with the introduction here of the dismissive
idea of “doubtful physical concepts” that seem to me to open the
door of judgementalism. 
As a reminder, Relativity was once considered a “doubtful physical
Can anyone defend Joe’s position? 
    Dr. Steven Ericsson-Zenith, Los Gatos, California.
+1-650-308-8611 [1]


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Re: [Fis] fis Digest, Vol 570, Issue 2

2013-04-16 Thread john . holgate

Dear Xueshan,

Another interesting source for Bateson's DTMD is in 'Angels Fear:
towards an epistemiology of the sacred' (1988):

'That which gets from territory to map is news of difference, and at
that point I recognized that news of difference was a synonym for
information' ( [1] )

Reading from James Gleik's book 'The Information' recently and his
description of the seminal Macy's Conferencesof 1941 it would seem
that Shannon Wiener and Bateson were coming from the same new idea of
'information' but with different formulations. Mackay's formal
approach (in-form-ation) is closer to the historical/philosophical
concept inherited from Plato and Aristotle. 

I think 'news of information' (cf  Shannon's 'surprise') is related
to the symmetry-breaking phenomenon that Pedro and John Collier
identified back in 1996 as an essential feature of in-formation at
work (where the in- prefix implies the deconstructive force of the
Greek 'ana' (as in the verb _anamorpheoin_, to transform by breaking
down the shape).  Without the antisymmetric force of
'news' difference does not become a dynamic phenomenon (as in
differentiation) but remains a speculative abstraction (like 'drawing
a distinction'). 

The key question for IS is  - to what , for whom and how is the
difference made. 

John H

- Original Message - 

Sent:Sun, 14 Apr 2013 16:52:40 +0800
Subject:Re: [Fis] fis Digest, Vol 570, Issue 2

Dear Pedro, Dear Joseph,

About the Milton Keynes Conference, i.e., about DTMD
definition, we saw this quote long long ago, but there two
different sayings: One is Information is a distinction that
makes a difference from Donald M. MacKay in his
Information, Mechanism and Meaning (1969), and another is
Information is a difference that makes a difference from
Gregory Bateson in his Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972).

Although I have checked it page by page in Donald M.
MacKay's book but can't found it, whereas it is easy to find
Information is a difference that makes a difference in
Gregory Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind at page 230,
361, 339, etc., who can tell the accurate priority about

Best wishes,

16:49, April 14, 2013 Peking University

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 specific than Re: Contents of fis digest...
 Today's Topics:
 1. Re: FIS News (Moscow 2013) (
 2. Re: FIS News (Moscow 2013) (PEDRO CLEMENTE MARIJUAN
 3. Re: FIS News (Moscow 2013) (Gyorgy Darvas)

 Message: 1
 Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2013 17:11:58 + (GMT+00:00)
 Subject: Re: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)
 To: , 

 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
 Dear Pedro,
 Glad to hear from you. Your silence was, of course, 
 expressive, containing much information . . .
 Now all of us will be waiting impatiently to learn about
 the new, exciting themes that were discussed at the Milton

 Keynes Conference.
 Best wishes,
 Message d'origine
 Date: 12.04.2013 11:02
 Objet: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)
 Dear FIS Friends,
 Apologies for my long silence. As I have already said
 times, my science management duties are killing not only
 time but also my nerve (well, not completely!). Imagine
 is happening with the financing and organization of
 science these years...
 Anyhow, a couple of good news about our common Information

 Science endeavor. First, there has been an excellent 
 conference in Milton Keynes, organized by the Open 
 University, about Information (the difference that makes
 difference). Quite exciting discussions on our most dear 
 themes, and some new ones that we have rarely addressed
 The organizers, a very active team indeed, are cordially 
 invited to lead a discussion session in our FIS list to 
 continue with the conceptual explorations addressed in
 And the second news is about an imminent FIS CONFERENCE, 
 MOSCOW 2013, the Sixth FIS, and the 1st of the ISIS 
 organization. It will be held this May, from 21 to 24 in 
 Moscow. This time the Russian organizers have followed a 

Re: [Fis] Physical information - anyone for an anyon?

2006-07-25 Thread john . holgate

Quoting Michael Devereux [EMAIL PROTECTED]:

Thanks Michael for your cogent reply.

I understand Landauer's insight not as an analysis of the logical 
structure of information, nor of its ubiquitous utility throughout 
human endeavors, but rather as a more precise description of the 
mechanisms for storage and transmission of information.

I agree that 'storage and transmission of information' (if info is 
predefined as

physical data carrying marks) is a useful description of the mechanism. But if
the data carry numbers and letters the information exchange process involves
qualia as well as quanta, implies structure shape and pattern (like anyons in
quantum knot theory imply two dimensional worlds). Human communication is
notoriously more complex than barcoding brains but we don't need to 
resort to a

metaphysical account involving 'disembodied abstract entities' to explain the
rules (Descartes can crawl back into his oven - some axiom like Miller's 'plus
or minus 7' might suffice).

I suppose neuroscientists today may even be able to locate those 
specific areas of the brain that process mathematical thoughts.

Yes, if info transmission is basically a physical process we should be able to
map its movement within the cerebellum (like Pinker maps verb tense usage in
the brain with MRI scans). The corollary of the physical view is that
'information' is (unlike concepts such as language, mind, consciousness or
number) not a distinct phenomenon but merely a feature of matter.

If info transmission is an 'event' (as Stanley and Rafael) suggest, 
then what is

its essential structure? 'Any surprising such representing a range of suches'
perhaps? If so then any mere transmission of physical data (signals) 
would only

qualify as information under certain conditions. It may be that information
'takes place' in the no-man's land of possibility between the ones and the
zeroes, between the lines of text, between noise and news and occurs deep
within the interstitial spaces of microtubular networks or in the sense-data
filtering mechanisms of the thalamus.

The anyon phenomenon may even have counterparts across the 'ubiquitous
utilities' of human endeavours - e.g.

rhetoric - homonyms, puns, metaphors
logic - paradoxical statements, nonsense
grammar - syntactic ambiguity, ambipositions
computing - wildcarding/regular expressions
card games - the joker (representing all the possible cards playable)
punctuation - asterisks (representing any of a range of swear words)

I suppose I am arguing that information transfer is not a transmission
of X from point A to point B but the act of in-form-ation becomes a
trans-form-ation to Y in the process (just as reading material print
can inform and transform the consciousness of a reader).

This 'mysterious transformation of raw information into cognitive content'
(Collier) remains the philosopher's stone of cognitive science.

The stone itself, of course, may be composed of neither bosons nor fermions.


John H

Dear Colleagues,

I understand Landauer's insight not as an analysis of the logical 
structure of information, nor of its ubiquitous utility throughout 
human endeavors, but rather as a more precise description of the 
mechanisms for storage and transmission of information. According to 
Landauer, and I think he was right about this, information is 
exclusively stored in the configuration of physical objects,.and 
transmitted only by material entities. So, for example, the energy 
configuration of a simple bi-level atom would contain a single bit of 
information, represented by zero, say, in its ground configuration, 
and by one in its excited level. Of course the physical configuration 
of the atom's nucleus, made up of protons and neutrons, must also 
contain additional information, ignored in this instance. And we know 
that protons and neutrons are themselves composed of quarks, whose 
physical configuration must also contain more information. And, as 
far as we know, those quarks may be constituted by some structure of 
strings, with even more information, and so on.
I also understand Landauer to tell us that information is transmitted 
from one thing to another only by physical objects, all of which are 
composed of energetic quanta. As, for instance, sending information 
on a telegraph line by a series of electrical impulses, each of which 
contains many electrons. I know of no reason to suppose that the 
information any person holds and exploits, even about mathematics, is 
not stored and transmitted physically, as Landauer has said.
Jerry wrote that mathematics is often deemed as abstraction, (so) 
mathematical information is often deemed as abstract. But, it is the 
brain cells and synaptic connections, their chemical and electrical 
configuration and signal processing, which alone permits us to employ 
mathematics. Clearly, traumatic injury to the brain (or death, even) 
can destroy a person's mathematical facility. I suppose 

RE: [Fis] The Identity of Ethics - psotconference thought

2006-05-11 Thread John Holgate

Hi Pedro, Rafael

Thanks for a fascinating session which opened up some windows and let in some
(occasionally foggy)air. But I still see the possibility a future IS which
will redefine metaphysics, ethics and science itself (a bit like Ted G.)
where the essential shape of 'in-form-ation' is identified as an 
interrupted circle, cycle, circulation, circularity (and first occurring in 
Greek philosophy sometime between Thales and Socrates).

This 1996 paper by Adrian Mckenzie looks at bioethics through a postmodern 

The 'difference/differentiation/circularity' paradigms of Bateson, Deleuze 
Varela et al prevent us from reverting to linear solutions or to the 
revival of medieval scientism which seriously threatens to dominate Eastern 
and Western thought ('intelligent design' movement in the USA, religious 
fundamentalism in East and West, demise of the academe etc).

This strikes me as the major 'ethical' problem for our time. Compared to 
those acts the digital agenda of posthumanism may be just a side show at 
the circus of Science.

I'm looking forward to hearing which school of 'quantum information' is the 
most convincing...I suspect that (like librarians) some physicists may have 
latched on to the
concept of information (as a flashy synonym for data) to successfully 
enhance their professional reputations.

John H

Quote - 'At the end of the day earthly death is nothing but a dearth of 
information' - Anon

-Original Message-
[mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] Behalf Of Pedro Marijuan
Sent: Tuesday, 9 May 2006 2:10
Subject: Re: [Fis] The Identity of Ethics

Dear colleagues,

If ethics relates mostly to the quest for the good or for the good

reasons of our social behavior, apparently it can be treated as another

discipline --really? An initial complication is about the subject --good...

to whom? It maybe one's personal interests, or his/her family, business,

profession, country, species, Gaia... but those goodnesses are usually in

conflict, even in dramatic contraposition. It is a frequent motif of

dramas, movies, poetry, etc. (aren't we reminded arts as technologies of


And then the complications about the circumstances, say the boundary

conditions. Any simple economic story or commercial transaction (e.g.,

remember that ugly provincial story about the nail found in Zaragoza) may

involve quite a number of situational changes and ethical variants ---if we

put scale into a whole social dimension of multivariated networkings... it

is just mind boggling. So I really would not put much weigh on those

hierarchical categorizations that only take a minimalist snapshot upon a

minimalist, almost nihilist scenario. However, some points by Loet months

ago on how complexity may hide-in  show up along privileged axis might

deserve discussion at this context.

Could we accept ethics just as an Art of moral problem solving? Quite many

conceptual tools would enter therein, but the scientificity of the whole

would not be needed. Even more, such scientificty would look suspicious to

me. A few decades ago, a scientific guiding of the whole social evolution

was taking place in a number of countries... apparently paving the way to a

new, conflict less Era!

best regards


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