Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is information, by definition, a product of self-awareness?

Asked by wundayatta (58571points) March 24th, 2010

My first draft of this question was: can information exist without consciousness? The second: is information consciousness on its own? The third what you see above.

This question was inspired by a comment of RealEyesRealizeRealLies, although it is not directly related to that comment.

I’m imagining a universe with no conscious or self-aware entities in it. Can this universe contain any information if there is no one to think about it? Does information require a mind in order to exist?

Or do conscious thinkers not matter. The information is there, latent, in everything that exists?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

82 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

No. As a matter of fact, you could make a very good argument for consciousness arising out of information.

CMaz's avatar

“Does information require a mind in order to exist?”
Yes

I think, therefore I am.

OperativeQ's avatar

No. Information is discovered, not created.

To interpret it and apply it, a consciousness is required.

So it is still there, but basically meaningless.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Conscious beings ( humans being the only ones we know so far ) are the universe’s attempt to become self-aware, which is the end objective of evolution. As such, it is incumbent on us, as beings evolved sufficiently to be conscious, to protect and nurture all living things. We are also the only known living things who CREATE information.

erichw1504's avatar

Since something exists in this universe, then it is information. But since no entity can classify or document any of it, then nothing is aware of it.

So, basically everytime I try to find a straight forward answer I end up in a loop. Great question!

CaptainHarley's avatar

Information = the universe > evolution to consciousness > creation of information by conscious beings > evolution to universal conscousness > [ Unknown ]

Coloma's avatar

I think that too much mind activity takes away from the true business at hand..just living your life. lol

No one can give satisfactory answers to any of this stuff in reality.

One must just trust in their own experience and accept that there are no perfectly boxed up answers to any of these exisitential questions.

While it is fun to contemplate and question all this ‘seeking’ can become an addicition in itself.

An addicition to avoiding the present moment.

I enjoy these types of sharings as well, but not at obsessive levels.

There will always be yet another question….sometimes it is just tail chasing.

An hour or so a day is more than enough…then it’s time to get your body and mind out into the sunshine!

Less IS more…right now I am going out for a hike as soon as I attend to a biz. call.

To stop thinking is the answer the majority of the time. lolol

dpworkin's avatar

Information exists only after it is interpreted. Before that it is merely indeterminate signal, indistinguishable from noise.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@dpworkin

Ah! But if there is no consciousness to decipher either information or “noise,” how can we be certain that either information or noise even existed? It’s like the old question of “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a noise.” The answer, of course, is that it creates sound waves in the atmosphere that cannot be interpreted as “sound” without the presence of an ear to hear it.

The information is always there, but the deciphering of that information is dependent upon the presence of a conscious being.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta

No disrespect intended but I notice that as soon as you posit one question you are onto the next. It seems that some space might be in order to assimilate the one thing at a time mantra. lolol

CaptainHarley's avatar

There is no such thing as “noise,” only information which has yet to be interpreted. : )

CMaz's avatar

If everything said here did not matter. Would it matter?

erichw1504's avatar

@ChazMaz No, because it did not matter.

gailcalled's avatar

@wundayatta; I have to agree with @Colomba. I thought you were going to ration your time here instead of the rush to justice. Hope you are keeping on an even keel..

xox Milo

CMaz's avatar

@erichw1504 – Then information, by definition, a product of self-awareness.

dpworkin's avatar

@CaptainHarley That old question, first proposed by Bishop Berkeley, has been long since answered, and the answer is “no”. See any relatively recnt (since 1999) work on sensation and perception in the psychological literature.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@dpworkin

Answering “no” to the question is based entirely upon the word “sound,” which by definition requires an ear to “hear.” BUT… the information is still there, ear or no ear.

wonderingwhy's avatar

If you believe the tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest (or for that matter that the forest even exists outside of observation) then no, information is not a product of self-awareness.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@wonderingwhy

Using the word “sound” implies an ear to decipher the information generated when a tree falls. Technically speaking, a falling tree makes no “sound” whatsoever, ear or no ear. It is the waves in the atmosphere which generate “sound” in the presence of an ear. If there is no ear, there is no sound, but the information is still present in the waves generated when the tree falls. Introduce an ear, and there is sound. : )

erichw1504's avatar

@ChazMaz Ding, ding, ding! What do we have for him, Johnny?!!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Information = Truth = God

Entropy = Deception = Satan

CaptainHarley's avatar

Let’s do a thought experiment.

A tree falls in the forest, generating information in the form of waves in the atmosphere. Just as these waves pass a given point, an ear suddenly appears. Is there sound? I would answer, “Yes, because the information was there and only needed a conscousness to interpret it as the ‘sound’ of a tree falling.”

wonderingwhy's avatar

@CaptainHarley so as stated, information is not a product of self-awareness, the waves existence are not a product of the ear.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@wonderingwhy

Exactly. At least that is MY interpretation. : )

Information pre-exists consciousness, and is thus not necessarily created by it, although consciousness does create certain kinds of information all by its lonesome. : )

anartist's avatar

A young man wrote a letter to God
You must think it exceedingly odd
That the Juniper tree continues to be
When there’s no one about in the quad.

Dear Sir, it is not at all odd,
I am always about in the quad
That’s why the tree
Continues to be.
Signed, yours respectfully, God.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@anartist

There one was a lass from Nantucket… uh… wrong forum! ; ))

CMaz's avatar

Ah yes God. Being self-aware for us, for over 2000 years.

anartist's avatar

Right format, wrong subject—
and which version were you using?

. . . and as for the bucket, pa took it?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@anartist

LMAO! Noooo comment! : D

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Information is a codified description of observable or theoretical phenomenon. It is always a product of thought. And it can only be referred to by the use of Code that conforms to Perlwitz, Burks, and Waterman’s definition of probability space A being mapped to probability space B. There is absolutely no other mechanism that can transmit and receive Information.

Entropy is noise on the line that prevents that thought from being communicated effectively.

The entire physical universe is a source of material Entropy that prevents the immaterial Information of Thought from being transmitted and received. We overcome this Entropy by harnessing it and forming particles into recognizable symbols of language structure. We mold Entropy to serve our purpose. We create letters and numbers out of it for the sole purpose of communicating our immaterial Thoughts from our immaterial Minds.

Trillian's avatar

@CaptainHarley said; ”...The information is always there, but the deciphering of that information is dependent upon the presence of a conscious being.”
That’s exactly what I was going to say.
Cosmic events are happening all the time. A supernova happens and we learn about it when the light from the event reaches us. It could have happened long before we ever climbed down out of the trees. Does that negate that it happened? Did it not actually “happen” because we didn’t know about it at the time?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Then what would you call that which exists prior to a conscious mind to decipher it? Aren’t we kind of haggling over semantics here?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Trillian

Exactly! Whether we call it “information,” “noise,” or “Ralph,” it’s still there as proved by observations of things transpiring prior to our existence. : )

As a matter of fact, consciousness arises out of the background information of the universe, which is proof adequate for the information’s prior existence: “I exist, therefore the universe existed prior to me.” : )

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No. It’s not semantics I assure you. There is a common misconception of what Information actually is. Most think that Information is everywhere when it is not. Believing as such is what I term “Apparent Information” in honor of Dawkins coining the term “Apparent Design”.

Believing that Information is everywhere, and that observable phenomenon IS Information, is a dangerous assumption. It leads us to believe things like Tree Rings can tell us about the Growing Seasons. This is an unfortunate belief, for ultimately it supports the mysticism and folklore of Talking Trees, Whispering Streams, and Burning Bushes that give instructions to birth a violent nation.

Our observable universe consists of nothing more than energy and matter that is subject to the forces of cause and reaction. This creates fractal patterns, and those patterns are all too often misunderstood as being Information. Information is immaterial. Fractal patterns are material.

Information only arises when one describes the fractal patterns. Information is a description. It requires an image/object relationship. The description is not the described. If there was no conscious mind to describe these patterns, then there would be only patterns and nothing more. In fact, they wouldn’t even be patterns without a conscious mind to call them that.

The Laws of the Universe were not given to humans by the cosmos. Mathematics is not an underlying principle that is waiting to be discovered. The Laws of the Universe are authored by humans to describe observable and theoretical phenomenon. Mathematics is a human invented language tool that allows us to describe the phenomenon with extreme accuracy. All language tools are tools of description. They allow us to form our thoughts in to the material realm. That’s what Information is… Thought In To Form… Non physical thought manifest into a physical form.

In-form-ation… the process of manifesting thought into form.

elenuial's avatar

I can program a computer to interact with the physical world in a meaningful way by reaction to observed stimuli, which is considered (in the language of artificial intelligence experts) “information.” Nobody thinks that such a program is conscious, however.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

I strongly disagree with much of what you just posted, but it’s going to take me a bit to work out how to explain why I disagree, although I do have one point to re-emphasize: call it “information,” or call it “data,” or call it “noise,” or call it “Matilda,” it still exists in some form, else we would not exist.

Cosmologists refer to the apparent loss of “information” when matter and energy are drawn into a black hole, for example, which is why I use that term when referring to that which has existence prior to a consciousness to observe it. I view the suppostion that “nothing exists which cannot be percieved by consciousness” as the most egocentric position ever. As a matter of fact, it borders on the most extreme arrogance.

CMaz's avatar

“Nobody thinks that such a program is conscious, however.”

Now you are just being a computer bigot. :-)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@elenuial Sure you can. No one is arguing that Code can’t produce new Code. Robotics, A.I., Computer Science confirms this every day. But that capacity is always programmed by an original sentient author to begin with.

It’s exactly the way DNA works. And in that discovery, we must therefor acknowledge, that DNA is a Code that conforms to Perlwitz, Burks, and Waterman’s definition of probability space A mapped to probability space B.

All codes are ultimately the product of sentient authorship, whether they are programmed to rewrite themselves or not. Therefor DNA is ultimately the product of Sentient Authorship.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@CaptainHarley

“date”, “noise”, and “Matilda” already have established definitions. We cannot communicate unless we acknowledge this. “Matilda” is not “date”, and “date” is not Information.

We can call things what we want. But we must agree upon our convention of symbolism. For this discussion, I’ll stick with the convention of symbolism that the English language provides. English establishes it’s convention of symbolism through a process of etymology. There are very good reasons why “date” is “date”, “noise” is “noise”, and “Information” is “Information”.

dpworkin's avatar

@CaptainHarley You seem to understand the theory, yet you seem not to understand that in your own analogy information=sound.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@dpworkin

Then let’s discuss “light” as the “information.” In my use of the term “information” I include anything which can be percieved, ascertained by whatever means, or inferred by a consciousness.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

The word was “data,” which I misstyped, my typing skills having been self-taught. Sorry! : )

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Light is an observable phenomenon. Information is your description of that phenomenon. Data is the format in which you choose to represent that Information to others.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Another most fascinating property of codified Information…

It’s the only thing in the Universe that duplicates just by looking at it.

From my mind to yours. From your mind to mine. Minds are shared with Codified Information.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Operant word: “Codified.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well yes of course. That’s the point, we cannot know of any Information unless we use Code to refer to it. Solar flares do not author code.

Code is a material lens that allows us to view the immaterial realm of Information.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wundayatta
To your second question: “is information consciousness on its own?”

Some are beginning to think so. And there are many reasons for this. In order to embrace the concept, one must first acknowledge the vast chasm between Cause/Reaction and Thought/Action. If you cannot see the difference between the two, then further comments on the subject would be worthless. Most people mistakenly conflate them as the same. Unfortunate.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Change “codified” to “percieved” and I’ll agree with ya! : )

CaptainHarley's avatar

We don’t so much “create” our own reality as “specify” it based on genetically-based perceptions of the available information provided by reality qua reality..

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I can’t do that sorry @CaptainHarley. The word “perceived” does not fit the Perlwitz, Burks, Waterman definition of “code”.

Truth does not require our agreement. Hokum does.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

reality qua reality is merely an observable phenomenon. It has none of the properties required to represent Information. No transmitter, no alphabet, no error correction, no syntax, no semantics, no noise reduction, no Information source, and no meaningful message. Code does have these properties. And that is the reason it can represent Information.

Fractal Patterns from Chaos are completely opposite from Codified Information from Mind.

Code always represents something other than itself. Patterns only represent themselves.

Code can be copied exactly. Patterns cannot be copied exactly.

Code is always reducible to a factor of one bit. Patterns are irreducible complexity.

Code can change mediums. Patterns cannot change mediums.

Code maps probability space A to probability space B. Patterns don’t map at all.

dpworkin's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I’ll buy all of that except that patterns are irreducible complexity. Not because I don’t believe you, but because I don’t understand it. Can you please elucidate? I know the phrase from evolutionary studies, in which it is a fallacy.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I strongly suspect we are making this far more complex than it needs to be. There is a reality which exists independently of any consciousness to observe it. We know this because we exist, because we arose out of it. Evolutionarilly speaking, our perceptions are limited to what abilities our species has evolved over time. Therefore our genetic inheritance specifies what information we can absorb in the absence of mechanical and/or genetic enhancement. There is no need to posit some sort of esoteric “code,” since the term information covers not only all that we can percieve unaided, but all information available in the universe.

Why complicate things further?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@thriftymaid

“No?” Vas ist das “no?” : )

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dpworkin

Nothing about the pattern can be reduced and still have the pattern be represented. Loose one part, and the whole is lost.

For instance, hot air + cold air + wind + time + pressure = tornado

Take one part out and the tornado is impossible. And once the tornado does arise, it only represents itself. It has no communication functionality. It is not a symbol.

Code however is always reducible. @dpworkin is reducible to “buddy” and buddy reducible to “him” and him reducible to “he” and he reducible to $. They all mean the same thing. They all reference the same essence of being. They all represent something other than themselves.

@CaptainHarley said: “There is a reality which exists independently of any consciousness to observe it.”

Agreed.

@CaptainHarley said: “our genetic inheritance specifies what information we can absorb in the absence of mechanical and/or genetic enhancement.”

How do we absorb Information? Code is the only mechanism that I know of that can transmit and receive Information. If you want to call that “absorb”... well, ok, but still a code must be present as an active mechanism to accomplish this.

@CaptainHarley said: “There is no need to posit some sort of esoteric “code,” since the term information covers not only all that we can percieve unaided, but all information available in the universe.”

On what grounds do you claim that Information is “all that we can perceive”? How do you get a communication from the cosmos without a code to communicate upon? And I’m not speaking of an “esoteric code”. I’m speaking of a genuine code as defined by Perlwitz, Burks and Waterman.

There is no “information available in the universe”. There is only materialistic phenomenon. Information arises when we describe that phenomenon by producing codified Information from a mind.

We don’t “read” the cosmos @CaptainHarley. We describe them.

@CaptainHarley said: “Why complicate things further?”

Because not doing so makes people think that clouds can communicate messages to humans. This is dangerous and can be used to support all sorts of religious atrocity. And it’s not complicating it further at all actually. It’s just understanding things the way they really truly are, rather than the way we might “perceive” them to be.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A new phenomenon appears at the far side of the galaxy. It is not communicating Information to humans. It has no ability to manifest its thought in-to-form.

Information about it doesn’t exist until a sentient observer begins to describe it.

The first description of it is the word it, and this places it soundly in the descriptive category of observable phenomenon.

To produce more Information about it we must describe it further. We first say “far away”, then “round”, then “big”, then “blue”... And we can use human invented measuring tools and human invented mathematics to describe it even more precisely. We thus have authored very precise Information about our observation of it.

We then use poetry to describe how we feel about it. Math can’t do that. And neither can it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@CaptainHarley

If Information was everywhere in the cosmos, then SETI would be out of business in short order. They look at the cosmos in the same manner that I do. It is all noise on the line. They attempt to filter out that noise and search for a genuine codified signal from a sentient life form. Some really smart rats base their entire careers upon this notion.

They fully understand that where there is Information, there must also be a mind to have authored it.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Then I am truly mystified by what you mean by the term “code?” Perhaps you can explain so even I can understand?

Information is indeed everywhere in the universe. Even static, normally thought of as “noise,” it carries information about the origins of the universe.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The formal definition of Code, as set forth by Perlwitz, Burks, and Waterman is:

“Given a source with probability space A, and a receiver with probability space B, then a unique mapping of the letters of alphabet A on to the letters of alphabet B is call a code.”
(Perlwitz, Burks, and Waterman, 1988)

This is the definition used by all Information Sciences, as established by Claude Shannon’s book, A Mathematical Theory of Communication. You can see his communication protocol Here. You will note the necessity for a “MESSAGE” in between the Information Source and the Transmitter (space A). The rest of the protocol is designed to communicate that “MESSAGE” to (space B) as you will see it listed between the Receiver and Destination.

You will note that Noise is the only barrier between the Transmitted Signal and the Received Signal. You will also not that Noise does not have a space A, so there is no way to map it to space B.

This is the exact same protocol that allowed Hubert Yockey to define DNA as a genuine Code, and not a template, or a blueprint. You will notice the similarities between Shannon’s protocols and Yockey’s protocols Here.

That’s specifically why we call the genome the Genetic Code. It has everything needed to fulfill the definition and it runs through the Shannon Protocol effortlessly. It’s also the reason why we don’t have terms like The Cosmological Code, or The Tectonic Code. Those phenomenon have none of the required mechanism and therefor fail to even begin to run through the Shannon Protocols.

The only Information that arises from Noise, is from the human description of our observation of it. That description as written is probability space A. Reading it is probability space B. Both probability spaces refer to an observable or theoretical phenomenon.

Tree Rings do not tell us about the Growing Seasons. Tree Rings cannot tell. They have none of the required mechanisms to do such a thing. Nature does not speak. Suggesting that it does unwittingly supports mysticism and folklore. Please do not turn Science into a parody of the Religions that it mocks.

Observer 1 observes a phenomenon. He calls it Tree Rings. He describes that phenomenon…

27 Rings
#1 2cm
#2 3cm
#3 1cm
#4 3cm

He has authored Information about his observation of a specific phenomenon.

Observer 2 observes a phenomenon. She calls it Growing Seasons. She describes that phenomenon…

1987 avg hum 24%
1988 avg hum 30%
1989 avg hum 15%
1990 avg hum 30%

She has authored Information about her observation of a specific phenomenon.

The two sets of “DATA” are compared, and a relationship is Inferred. But neither the Tree Rings nor the Growing Seasons communicated to humans in any manner. They cannot. They have no alphabet to communicate upon. They have no transmitter. They have no mind to desire to do such a thing. And if by chance they did, Humans don’t inherently know how to speak Dogwood-ese.

CaptainHarley's avatar

In my world view, you and I are largely having semantic differences. If I understand you correctly, “code” is a subset of “information” in my vernacular.

Have you ever read The Web of Life, by Fritjof Capra?

Coloma's avatar

Information is just information, and there’s waaay too much of it.

I

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@CaptainHarley

I have not read that book. And I cannot abide by Code being defined as a subset of Information.

Code is a material object. Information is an immaterial agent.

Code represents Information. It is the medium that expresses a message. But the medium is never the message… ever, never ever.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

ET I see you coming and I know you’re gonna give it to me good. I’ve got to get back to work friend… spent too much time with this today. I’ll check you in a little while.

ETpro's avatar

@wundayatta The answer depends entirely upon which one of many meanings you decide to attach to the word, Information. @RealEyesRealizeRealLies and @CaptainHarley are both quite right within the context of the specific definition each has picked. For more, see the full discussion on Wikipedia.

Note particularely meanings 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Oh and BTW, I’m more given to @CaptainHarley‘s definition as it provides more useful constructs and leads more often to proofs whereas the language definition may tend toward speculations.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ETpro

I suspect you are correct. I see “information” as any sort of data, from any sort of source, universe-wide. Anything which impinges on our senses or upon the sensors of any of our constructs is “information.”

I come to the party from the standpoint of a biological and physics lay-person not particularly well-versed in mathematics.

ETpro's avatar

@CaptainHarley I was a Chemistry major but went into process engineering and spent my first career designing robotics and machinery. I’m not nearing 2 decades in a second career as a Web Developer. I’ve been doing that almost since the inception of the Web. So the physics definition appeals to me.

Besides, it does hearken back to what’s really going on when a tree falls in a forest. About 300,000 years after the big bang, the nascent Universe had cooled enough that electrons and protons got together to form hydrogen. That worked out the math of +1 amd -1 = 0 charge and stability. It generated the first element on the periodic chart. Humans wouldn’t be around to codify either of those events for billions of years, but the facts or information was there waiting for us to find it.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ETpro

We are the end product of over 13 billion years of evolution. Kinda sad, when you think about it. : )

ETpro's avatar

@CaptainHarley Hq! Makes you sometimes want to shake your fist at nature and shout, “Is that the best ya got?”

But then I listen to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or read Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorm and have to say, “Nature, you done prety darned good.”

Coloma's avatar

Narure is perfect, it is man that always thinks how it could be improved. lol

I always like that saying…that nature is a force to be reckoned with….who’s reckoning? haha

Nature will always trump mankind…gooooo nature!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ETpro

All true. I know it takes all kinds, but sometimes I suspect they got the proportions all wrong! ; ))

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

It is indeed a sad day when any industry, science or discipline can hijack a word, use it for their own purposes, effectively redefining the original meaning, with no regard to the etymological history of that word, nor at least the common layman definition. I do not take it lightly, and find it quite inexcusable. It is a foreboding sign of lazy science and careless people. Words deserve our respect. They are nothing to toss about casually. It covers the Truth and stops progress dead in its tracks, for we are ultimately left with a broken language that makes effective communication absolutely impossible.

Such is the case with the word, Information.

Although Wikipedia is a valid source for knowledge, it is by no means the end all determination for what a thing is. Before delving into what the accepted and historical views are on what Information is, I feel the need to address the Wikipedia claims, specifically the so called definitions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, as suggested.

#2 – As Sensory Input
It conflates observation and awareness as synonymous with Information. This is false, and what I call “Apparent Information”. It conforms to no conventional definition. Sensory input is nothing more than cause and reaction to stimuli. Information does not exist until an action is authored upon that stimuli. It uses the Bee as an example, claiming the yellow flower is an information source. Wrong. The yellow flower is an observable phenomenon. Information doesn’t exist until the Bee authors a very specific figure 8 Waggle dance, ABOUT the flower. The Bee encodes his perception of that observation (space A) and other Bees decode the thought (space B). The figure 8 Waggle Dance specifically encodes for direction, distance, wind drift, quality of pollen, and even offers an optimum suggested route for the hive to follow. The yellow flower did not speak to the Bee or share any Information at all. The Bee writes his own Information. But the Wiki didn’t even mention the figure 8 Waggle Dance. Same can be said for Whale Song and Wolf Howls.

#3 – As an influence which leads to transformation
The author demonstrates a lacking knowledge of DNA, claiming “Consider, for example, DNA. The sequence of nucleotides is a PATTERN that influences the formation and development of an organism without any need for a conscious mind. Systems theory at times seems to refer to information in this sense, assuming information does not necessarily involve any conscious mind, and patterns circulating (due to feedback) in the system can be called information.”

This is an outrageously short sighted depiction of DNA. DNA is NOT a Pattern. It is called The Genetic Code for a very good reason. It is not called The Genetic Pattern for the same reasons. Look up any definition in the world for Information. No mention of Pattern will ever be made. No synonym either. Look up any definition in the world for Pattern. No mention of Information will ever be made. No synonym either.

The author should not use the words “sequence” and “pattern” in the same sentence. It is horrifically misleading. One synonym for Pattern is Blueprint. In his book, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Hubert Yockey gives specific reasons as to why DNA is NOT a Blueprint.

“The genome is sometimes called a “blueprint” by people who have never seen a blueprint. Blueprints, no longer used, were two-dimensional, a poor metaphor indeed, for the linear and digital sequences of nucleotides in the genome. The linear structure of DNA and mRNA is often referred to as a template. A template is two-dimensional, it is not subject to mutations, nor can it reproduce itself. This is a poor metaphor as anyone who has used a jigsaw will be aware. One must be careful not to make a play on words.

#4 – As a property in physics
They conflate Energy with Information. Why? “In 2003, J. D. Bekenstein claimed there is a growing trend in physics to define the physical world as being made of information itself (and thus information is defined in this way)”

Physics hijacks a word and gives it a completely different definition. This is certainly not a conventional definition by any means. This is lazy and careless science. It forces Information to be considered as a physical thing. It begs us to believe that the medium IS the message, one in the same. It actually says, ”…information could be thought of as interchangeable with energy.” What?

Find me a formal definition or an etymological history that mentions anything at all about Information and Energy being interchangeable. I cannot find the word Energy in any definition of Information. I cannot find the word Information in any definition of Energy. This is a ridiculous conflation. Physics has STOLEN the word Information from the English language and redefined it for some strangely obscure reason that I cannot fathom. Inexcusable.

#5 – As records
I certainly agree with this. I’m unsure why it was presented. Records are definitely a source of retrieving Information. It is accomplished with Code. No problems with number 5, although it may best be thought of as Data, which is a type of Information management.

#6 – Information and semiotics
I agree with this as well. But semiotics is not a definition for Information. Semiotics is an application based upon symbolic logic. Semiotics is basically a specified study of Code, in the form of Signs and Symbols.

May we please consider the actual definitions and etymology of Information?

inform – early 14c., “to train or instruct in some specific subject,” from L. informare “to shape, form, train, instruct, educate,” from in- “into” + forma “form.” Sense of “report facts or news” first recorded late 14c. Informer “one who gives information against another” (especially in ref. to law-breaking) is from c.1500.
Online Etymology Dictionary – Information

Clearly a property of mind.

information – late 14c., “act of informing,” from O.Fr. informacion, from L. informationem (nom. informatio) “outline, concept, idea,” noun of action from informare (see inform). Meaning “knowledge communicated” is from c.1450. Short form info is attested from 1906. Infomercial (with commercial) and infotainment (with entertainment) are from 1983. Before infomercial was the print form, advertorial (1961).
Online Etymology Dictionary – Information

Clearly a property of mind. Please note “knowledge communicated”.

notice (n.) – early 15c.,
“information, intelligence,” from L. notitia “a being known, fame, knowledge,” from notus “known,” pp. of (g)noscere “come to know, to get to know, get acquainted (with),” from PIE *gno-sko-, a suffixed form of root *gno- (see know). Sense of “formal warning” is attested from 1590s. Meaning “a sign giving information” is from 1805. The verb is attested from mid-15c., originally “to notify;” sense of “to point out” is from 1620s. Meaning “to take notice of” is attested from 1757, but was long execrated in England as an Americanism (occasionally as a Scottishism, the two crimes not being clearly distinguished).
Online Etymology Dictionary – Notice

Clearly a property of mind.

Merriam Webster
Pronunciation: \ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century

1 : the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence
2 a (1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2) : intelligence, news (3) : facts, data b : the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects c (1) : a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2) : something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct d : a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed
3 : the act of informing against a person
4 : a formal accusation of a crime made by a prosecuting officer as distinguished from an indictment presented by a grand jury

Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.
in·for·ma·tion n
1. definite knowledge acquired or supplied about something or somebody
2. the collected facts and data about a particular subject
3. a telephone service that supplies telephone numbers to the public on request.
Also called directory assistance
U.K. term directory enquiries
4. the communication of facts and knowledge
5. computer data that has been organized and presented in a systematic fashion to clarify the underlying meaning
6. a formal accusation of a crime brought by a prosecutor, as opposed to an indictment brought by a grand jury

No mention of Energy or Pattern anywhere to be found. Not in the synonyms either.

ETpro's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It’s right there in #2 under Merriam Webster’s tome. Knowledge obtained by investigation, study, ... facts, data. Energy is a fact. Patterns in nature are facts. They have been since billions of years before man cam along to notice them and make up words and symbols to discuss them.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t accept that. Investigation is a defined protocol. It is not synonymous with awareness. Study is a defined protocol. It is not synonymous with awareness.

As well, Knowledge is not obtained from Energy. Energy has no Knowledge to offer.

Knowledge is not obtained from Patterns. Patterns have no Knowledge to offer.

ETpro's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Believe what you need to to be right. Have an excellent night. Gotta sleep.

dpworkin's avatar

@ETpro I would characterize the difference as being philosophical rather than semantic, and further I would characterize the difference as non-trivial, and I am afraid you are fighting out of your weight class.

elenuial's avatar

Weight class is not determined by volume. A ton of fecal matter is voluminous.

dpworkin's avatar

@elenuial That’s a little disappointing considering your capacity to argue well and cogently. You have convinced me more than once, but not by denigrating other people’s contributions. (I know, who am I to talk.)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@elenuial I certainly am sorry about the volume. I have no desire to do that. It takes up time and sets people off. It makes the issue difficult to discuss. No one enjoys having their views challenged.

But some times it needs to be done. Words cannot be hijacked to means something other than originally intended, and then expect to carry on an intelligent conversation, where we think we’re speaking of the same things, but in truth we are not.

Patterns and Energy have no business being conflated as Information in any way.

Patterns and Energy never predict an outcome before it happens. They are applied, and then we observe and describe the outcome after the application.

Codified Information is not like that. Codified Information predicts and determines an outcome before it happens, not after. There is a vast chasm between Patterned Energy and Codified Information. I cannot allow science or anyone to conflate the two. I’m sorry.

ETpro's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I was tired and rather testy from a fight on a site dominated by neo-fascists last night. I apologize for the quick dismissal. I am a stickler for dictionary definitions myself. If words get to mean whatever an individual wants them to mean, they become useless for discourse. Your last paragraph above clarifies for me where you take exception to the misuse of the term “information”. I still have not had a chance to review that link you sent me. But I will. It is a topic that I find very interesting.

@dpworkin While you are probably right about my being over my head (I’m definitely not well versed in philosophy) I think your dismissal of my thoughts in that manner is at least as disappointing as @elenuial dismissal of yours.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Hey ET, it’s difficult for me to oppose you. I consider you an extremely intelligent friend, and respect you enough that I don’t want to argue with you. I didn’t take offense. I feared that I had offended you.

Regardless, I knew that my reply to you had to be thorough. It is thanks to you, that I am given the opportunity to revisit my position on this. In doing so, the revisit always sheds new light on the situation. Not the least of which is my motivation for being so adamant about my thoughts. Am I trying to be right all the time? Am I secretly supporting a Theist agenda? Or am I trying to keep science from falling into the dark ages by way of misunderstandings and loose definitions? Could I handle the Truth if I knew in my heart that it was reversed to what I believe?

I’d like to think that I just want to protect the Truth. I don’t want people believing a lie.

But alas… Oh I don’t really know. I don’t know a damned thing. Let’s continue to give one another a reason to think, and always question our thinking.

Terrence McKenna said something that always stuck with me. Actually, he said a few things. One, in which he suggested how we question those who put forth bold claims of any sort.

He said: “The question shouldn’t be What do you believe? The question should be Why do you believe what you believe?

He also suggests, that the moment we begin to believe something as true, that is the very moment we should question our methodologies that lead us to those beliefs.

Your challenge to me, gives me the opportunity to revisit the sound advice of McKenna.

Thanks

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther