[Fis] Discussion on Disinformation

Gordana Dodig Crnkovic gordana.dodig-crnkovic at chalmers.se
Fri Jan 24 12:13:44 CET 2020

Dear Professor Zhong,

Thank you very much for your insightful comments.
I agree very much with the following:
“ all the ‘definitions’ mentioned above have certain demerits. Firstly, for example, the concept of entropy in Shannon Information Theory and Wiener’s Cybernetics is based on the probability theory whereas information is not limited to statistical category. Secondly, the concept of ‘variety’ seems much too simple and it cannot distinguish two events having same number of elements and different weights associated to each of the elements. Thirdly, the concept of ‘difference that make difference’ is also not perfect because of the fact that ‘no difference’ does not mean ‘no information’. As a matter of fact, ‘no difference’ itself does give information. “

You point out the necessity of making distinctions between different approaches to information/definitions of information and elucidating what they imply and under what conditions.
It is indeed an excellent observation that ‘no difference’ does not mean ‘no information’.
It seems to me that even here we must make distinction between two types of information, or at least two phases in the information processing. Bateson looks at the first stage: observing information from the outside world.
Or, as Aaron Sloman explains here https://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/information-difference.html:

”Bateson described not "information" but "a bit of information" and later "the elementary unit of information" as "a difference that makes a difference". He did this in at least two of the essays, namely in "The Cybernetics of 'Self': A Theory of Alcoholism" and in "Form Substance and Difference".”

I used to quote Bateson, writing "Information is a difference that makes a difference" (for an agent).
Information for a human is typically no information for a bacterium, and it is never the same kind of information.
For even if bacterium registers rise in temperature it will not relate it to global warming.

There is a world outside an observer and the first excitation of its neural networks corresponds to the difference in the world that is observed (that makes the difference in the observer). But then we have our memory, with knowledge, information and data, which supports anticipations, predictions and reasoning in general.
We immediately attach meanings to that which we have identified/perceived. That is the stage where we can say: I am observing this object (a traffic light) that should have changed (color), but nothing happens. It (probably) means it is broken. So, no change means information. But to come to this step we make a second order difference between observed world and expected/projected one.

How much do we know about the relationship between the first stage, noticing things in the world, meaning “no difference”, and the second order information deduced in the next step (what that implies)?
When do we start using different pieces of information to start reasoning? Should information perceived and information deduced be treated as two different types of information, or stages in the processing of information. Shall we conclude that Bateson’s definition has also its given domain of validity and should not be stretched outside of it? As we know for information in Shannon’s model of communication and need to understand for all other definitions as well.

Happy Chinese New Year to you and all our colleagues from China!

From: 钟义信 <zyx at bupt.edu.cn>
Date: Friday, 24 January 2020 at 08:47
To: Joeseph Brenner <joe.brenner at bluewin.ch>, Pedro <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
Cc: fis <fis at listas.unizar.es>, marcinschroeder <mjs at aiu.ac.jp>, "Terrence W.DEACON" <deacon at berkeley.edu>, Gordana CHALMERS <gordana.dodig-crnkovic at chalmers.se>, Mark Burgin <markburg at cs.ucla.edu>, 闫学衫 <yxs at pku.cn>, 邬q <wukun at mail.xjtu.edu.cn>, 陈志成 <czc0910 at 163.com>, wolfganghofkirchner <wolfgang.hofkirchner at is4si.org>
Subject: Discussion on Disinformation

Dear Joseph, Dear Pedro, Dear All,

The text in attachment is my response to the discussions on disinformation, which has been carried on for weeks. I hope it useful.

Best regards,

Prof. Zhong Y. X.
Center for Intelligence Science Research
Beijing University of Posts & Telecom

[Image removed by sender.]




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