[lit-ideas] Re: What is information?

  • From: "Peter D. Junger" <junger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 15:53:10 -0400

"Phil Enns" writes:

: A set of relations fixed by experience for the purpose of understanding?

That won't work for my purposes.  Computers don't have experiences
and the information that they input and output is not necessarily
for understanding by anone.  Consider the case of random number

: This would distinguish information from a fact, which might be 'A set of
: relations fixed by experience'.
: If relations, and therefore, information can be symbolically
: represented, then what the computer processes is the symbolic form of
: information.  I haven't a clue how this fits into Peter's project.

I am pretty sure that what the computer deals with is information
_an sich_.  The fact that the information may or may not symbolize
something is not an inherent attribute of that, or any, information.

The computer deals with patterns of bits, not with symbols.

: Sincerely,
: Phil Enns
: Toronto, ON


It seems to be a tricky problem.  Except for engineers like Shannon
who have no concern with meaning, but write in mathematics
and are concerned with the interplay between information and 
entropy and things like that, no one seems to have discussed
information without reference to intenionality of some form.

The problem is that computers lack intetionality and yet perform
calculations according to algorithms that can also, if more slowly,
be implemented by human beings who have no idea of what the
information means, if it means anything.

Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH
 EMAIL: junger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    URL:  http://samsara.law.cwru.edu   
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