[Fis] defining information

Terrence W. DEACON deacon at berkeley.edu
Tue Mar 10 21:20:11 CET 2020

Dear FIS Colleagues,

My recent post was not intended to provide a definition of information.
But only to provide a framework to minimize the equivocation
that comes from uses of the term 'information' that make unmarked
assumptions about what one is assuming.
It seems obvious to me that the term is being used in mutually incompatible
by different FIS contributors, often with the implied claim that the
writer's use of the term
is THE ONE CORRECT USAGE, when in fact there may be no single most useful
that works across all scientific and technical domains, not to mention the
social sciences and humanities.
I do believe that we will make more progress if we are clear about our
assumed definitions in our different contexts of use.
For example, as a neuroscientist who has also written about computer
I find that a good deal of confusion in cognitive science results from
assuming that we are talking about the same thing
when using the term 'information' to talk about brain functions and
computational operations.
So I think that FIS could provide a service to many fields by working on an
information vocabulary
that helps to avoid these sorts of definitional equivocations;
i.e. not THE definition of information, but definitionS of information
within a framework that shows their relationships to one another.

Regards, Terry

On Tue, Mar 10, 2020 at 8:16 AM Emanuel Diamant <emanl.245 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Pedro, Dear FIS colleagues,
> I do not share the general excitement about the revitalization of the FIS
> discussion on information definition.
> I am not sure that the principle of “three messages per week” or the ITHEA
> Cloud Forum, with an
> unlimited number of posts and 1M-large attachments, is our main problem. I
> think that our discussion (again and again) violates the basic principle of
> any scientific discourse - the IF-THEN principle - according to which each
> hypothetical assumption is followed by a suggestion what stems from it,
> where, and how these expectations could be discerned and observed. If I
> remember right, Terence and Gordana on several previous occasions have
> addressed this issue, but their call has remained unanswered.
> However, refreshing the definitions of information we cannot continue to
> ignore the IF-THEN rule requirement - How does the defined information look
> like, how it is represented, what is its real form? The proposed definition
> of information must be followed by a suggestion of assets that make it (the
> information) visible, tangible, palpable.
> Only this kind of information definitions is being urgently needed in the
> worldwide Human Brain Research programme. Or in the overhyped global
> Artificial Intelligence race. In both, Artificial Neural Networks (which
> are data processing number crunching devices) are supposed to emulate human
> brain biological neurons (which are pure information processing devices).
> Both fail to fulfill their promises, but do not understand for what reason
> and why. The current FIS discussion certainly will not help them.
> Regards, Emanuel.
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Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley
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