What is information?

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Philosophy Explorer
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What is information?

Post by Philosophy Explorer » Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:33 am

It appears the basis for much philosophic investigation and debate is the concept of information. For example how much information do we need to decide?

I think there is no one overall rule as each case may be different. What do you think?

PhilX

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Re: What is information?

Post by Walker » Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:31 am

Philosophy Explorer wrote:It appears the basis for much philosophic investigation and debate is the concept of information. For example how much information do we need to decide?

I think there is no one overall rule as each case may be different. What do you think?

PhilX
A decision implies a yes or no answer.

To find such an answer, first determine what you need to know.

Then formulate a relevant question.

Based on the question, you'll know where to begin casting your line into the ocean of information.

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Re: What is information?

Post by marjoram_blues » Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:37 am

Philosophy Explorer wrote:It appears the basis for much philosophic investigation and debate is the concept of information. For example how much information do we need to decide?

I think there is no one overall rule as each case may be different. What do you think?

PhilX
Just when you think you know what 'information' is and how to get it...
A philosopher, or two, rides into view.

Who knew there was a Philosophy of Information

Read all about it !
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information/
Although an analysis of the notion of information has been a theme in Western philosophy from its early inception, the explicit analysis of information as a philosophical concept is recent, and dates back to the second half of the 20th century. Historically the study of the concept of information can be understood as an effort to make the extensive properties of human knowledge measurable.

In the 20th century various proposals for formalization of concepts of information were made:

Fisher information: the amount of information that an observable random variable X carries about an unknown parameter θ upon which the probability of X depends (Fisher 1925).

Shannon information: the entropy, H, of a discrete random variable X is a measure of the amount of uncertainty associated with the value of X (Shannon 1948; Shannon & Weaver 1949).

Kolmogorov complexity: the information in a binary string x is the length of the shortest program p that produces x on a reference universal Turing machine U (Solomonoff 1960, 1964a,b, 1997; Kolmogorov 1965; Chaitin 1969, 1987).

Quantum Information: The qubit is a generalization of the classical bit and is described by a quantum state in a two-state quantum-mechanical system, which is formally equivalent to a two-dimensional vector space over the complex numbers (Von Neumann 1955; Redei & Stoeltzner 2001).

Information as a state of an agent: the formal logical treatment of notions like knowledge and belief was initiated by Hintikka (1962, 1973). Dretske (1981) and van Benthem & van Rooij (2003) studied these notions in the context of information theory, cf. van Rooij (2004) on questions and answers, or Parikh& Ramanujam (2003) on general messaging. Also Dunn seems to have this notion in mind when he defines information as “what is left of knowledge when one takes away believe, justification and truth” (Dunn 2001 pg. 423, 2008).

Semantic Information: Bar-Hillel and Carnap developed a theory of semantic Information (1953). Floridi (2002, 2003, 2011) defines semantic information as well-formed, meaningful and truthful data. Formal entropy based definitions of information (Fisher, Shannon, Quantum, Kolmogorov) do not imply wellformedness or truthfulness.

The first four concepts are quantitative, the last two qualitative. These proposals can roughly be classified in terms of the nature of the definiens: Probability in the case of Fisher and Shannon Information, computation in the case of Kolmogorov complexity, quantum mechanics in the case of quantum information, true beliefs as the core concept of Semantic Information, whereas information states of agents seem to correlate with the formal notion propositions that not necessarily have to be true. The philosophical interpretation of the definiendum ‘Information’ naturally depends on the views one holds about the definiens....
PhilX: 'How much information do we need to decide...'
What ? If we really need a Philosophy of Information? Personally, I've read enough already...my decision is PoI has too much crazy and confusing info talk. I don't need to torture my brain so.

PhilX: 'I think there is no one overall rule as each case may be different. What do you think?'
How can there be an overall rule? Someone else will find this absolutely fascinating and necessary research for a book, or summat. It depends.
It doesn't rock my boat, but if you got the notion...

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A_Seagull
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Re: What is information?

Post by A_Seagull » Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:24 pm

Information constitutes the interface between the noumena and the phenomena.

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Re: What is information?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:19 am

A_Seagull wrote:Information constitutes the interface between the noumena and the phenomena.
There is no interface, really. But an interesting thought.

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Re: What is information?

Post by The Voice of Time » Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:23 pm

Philosophy Explorer wrote:It appears the basis for much philosophic investigation and debate is the concept of information. For example how much information do we need to decide?

I think there is no one overall rule as each case may be different. What do you think?

PhilX
I actually have a beautiful and enlightening answer to this.

The question is wrong. You should not ask how much information is necessary, but how well preserved your life joys are. The poorer your life, the more desperate is your situation, and hence you'll have to resort to more and more desperate measures in order to do something about it. This is because the less you have, the less you have to loose (and you might say, the more you loose proportionally to what you have, but if you need explained why this is not the right way of thinking about it, I'll be ready to give you a thorough explanation of that as well).

If, on the other hand, you have joys, and those joys are well guaranteed in your life, then speculative thinking is less and less attractive. So the amount of information necessary, depends on how much joy in life you have guaranteed already. This gives us an equation -> (relevant information)/(guaranteed joys) = value of action. This says something about which action you should take, and the great thing is: nothing is also an action! So the question is not how much information you need, but at what point is it worth more to do nothing, than to take an action?

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Post by henry quirk » Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:02 pm

Information is coherence...it's signal versus noise...the content is irrelevant as long as it's coherent in transmission and reception...a kalidescope image is information simply cuz it's ordered, not cuz of the content of the image.

Knowledge, on the other hand, is a whole other ball of wax.

"For example how much information do we need to decide?"

What you need is 'content', 'fact'.

What you need to do is digest that content, that fact, add it to the mix you have, then conclude, choose, and do.

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Re: What is information?

Post by Scott Mayers » Thu Feb 25, 2016 8:38 pm

The Voice of Time wrote:
Philosophy Explorer wrote:It appears the basis for much philosophic investigation and debate is the concept of information. For example how much information do we need to decide?

I think there is no one overall rule as each case may be different. What do you think?

PhilX
I actually have a beautiful and enlightening answer to this.

The question is wrong. You should not ask how much information is necessary, but how well preserved your life joys are. The poorer your life, the more desperate is your situation, and hence you'll have to resort to more and more desperate measures in order to do something about it. This is because the less you have, the less you have to loose (and you might say, the more you loose proportionally to what you have, but if you need explained why this is not the right way of thinking about it, I'll be ready to give you a thorough explanation of that as well).

If, on the other hand, you have joys, and those joys are well guaranteed in your life, then speculative thinking is less and less attractive. So the amount of information necessary, depends on how much joy in life you have guaranteed already. This gives us an equation -> (relevant information)/(guaranteed joys) = value of action. This says something about which action you should take, and the great thing is: nothing is also an action! So the question is not how much information you need, but at what point is it worth more to do nothing, than to take an action?
Nice interpretation. I thought of this similarly but with respect to a need for one's intelligence. I proposed that people (or any animal) lacks necessity for intelligence and would opt NOT to become moreso except for whether one's goals are limited and to what extent. The more barrier or harder it is to overcome them, one's intelligence is commanded in order to try to overcome this conflict. So, as a corollary to this, I suggested that we default to PREFER the ignorance as those who do with most extreme because they are both most happy and lack the NEED to think. (Thus the various stereotypes, like the "dumb blonde", in which their high demand potentially privileges them to lack thinking, is actually a SMART and normal behavior to default to)

If one is already 'happy' (comfortable) where they are, regardless of ones' prosperous (not necessarily of wealth), one is able to lack the external needs. The 'Stoics' as with many other past & present philosophies embrace a means to ignore what they lack to focus on their present condition so as not to be 'teased' into discovering or wanting realities beyond their capacity. But "joy", as you choose to word it, may not be simply anything one can just 'choose'. So you have to be cautious to assume this a certain potential resolution.

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Re: What is information?

Post by The Voice of Time » Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:16 pm

Scott Mayers wrote: Nice interpretation. I thought of this similarly but with respect to a need for one's intelligence. I proposed that people (or any animal) lacks necessity for intelligence and would opt NOT to become moreso except for whether one's goals are limited and to what extent. The more barrier or harder it is to overcome them, one's intelligence is commanded in order to try to overcome this conflict. So, as a corollary to this, I suggested that we default to PREFER the ignorance as those who do with most extreme because they are both most happy and lack the NEED to think. (Thus the various stereotypes, like the "dumb blonde", in which their high demand potentially privileges them to lack thinking, is actually a SMART and normal behavior to default to)

If one is already 'happy' (comfortable) where they are, regardless of ones' prosperous (not necessarily of wealth), one is able to lack the external needs. The 'Stoics' as with many other past & present philosophies embrace a means to ignore what they lack to focus on their present condition so as not to be 'teased' into discovering or wanting realities beyond their capacity. But "joy", as you choose to word it, may not be simply anything one can just 'choose'. So you have to be cautious to assume this a certain potential resolution.
This is a potentially dangerous and not very smart way of interpreting what I, as you said, "interpreted". There is never going to be a point at which you can assume you know enough of the universe to give it your back. Your goal is to ensure your happiness, and this job will always be a necessary current of activity in your life.

Now, in a robust political and social system, you can allow yourself not to take responsibility for knowing and controlling everything, but there's always going to be a duty against yourself and against your fellows to make certain that this system doesn't collapse while you're not looking. I'm working on a solution to this problem (which would require another post of explaining as to what I see as the solution).

You can delegate, but you can't escape the universe and its machinations, and you are ultimately responsible for all your delegations (which is why strong democracies is so important, its strengths are among others in being penetrable for scrutiny).

Instead of thinking that you don't need information when you have a lot of assured joy, think instead that you don't need a lot of information to make a choice, but you're always going to need information, because the more information you have, the more choices you can commit to and have good results from (while somebody poor in information wouldn't be able to make a lot of meaningful choices). You can always build a larger horizon of certainty, and you're always going to need one (because you never know where you're vulnerable).

But to be rational about it, there's a golden ratio of how much you must sacrifice (think exposure to uncertainty and bad stuff) as a minimum in order to preserve the large good (all the certainty and good you've amassed). I predict this ratio to be a constant, a universal uncertainty fence you always have to climb. But in order to find this constant one would have to dig deep into the epistemological roots of "uncertainty", how we find it, recognize it, know it, understand it, and so forth. That would take time.

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Re: What is information?

Post by Scott Mayers » Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:47 pm

VoiceOfTime,

I must be misreading your understanding here and don't see how what you've said follows exactly from me. What is 'dangerous' about what I said, for instance? I was stating that people, like all animals, seek comfort and pleasure without a concern for the pursuit of intellectual things with utmost priority. Our consciousness has evolved to be potentially intelligent but only resorts to it when or where it is necessarily lacking initially. Our system of education helps teach intelligent things but is not necessarily intellectually absorbed without other reasons. Luxury too can do this out of boredom but even this is often as much about lacking the capacity to do something more emotionally rewarding.

If you want X and get it easily, you don't require questioning why you are not getting what you get by default. It is only to things you don't get for the wanting that begs you to think.

Information itself too can be problematic. If you've never tried chocolate before, you don't LOSE what you haven't initially experienced. But upon experiencing it AND liking it, this informs you of new things to enjoy in life. Depriving one after trying it creates conflict if the desire motivated by experience proved rewarding.

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Re: What is information?

Post by The Voice of Time » Fri Feb 26, 2016 9:49 am

I understood you to be championing ignorance. Especially when I read things like these:
(Thus the various stereotypes, like the "dumb blonde", in which their high demand potentially privileges them to lack thinking, is actually a SMART and normal behavior to default to)
You called it smart to be ignorant, irrational and incompetent in all but trivial matters.

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Re: What is information?

Post by Scott Mayers » Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:06 pm

The Voice of Time wrote:I understood you to be championing ignorance. Especially when I read things like these:
(Thus the various stereotypes, like the "dumb blonde", in which their high demand potentially privileges them to lack thinking, is actually a SMART and normal behavior to default to)
You called it smart to be ignorant, irrational and incompetent in all but trivial matters.
"Smart", means, "the PRACTICAL intelligent action or actions one opts to use regardless of truth with respect to reality apart from nature itself." At least, this is how we use the term colloquially to differentiate between one's capacity to BE intelligent. It is a kind of measure (or judgement of one) to intellectually act or rate of response to act given some real circumstances....sometimes what we might refer to as one's automatic or quick response to BE intelligent under the circumstances.

The point I was making was to argue that the normal human behavior of response, as it is with all animals, is to go straight for one's emotional goals and only 'think' about it when or where one finds conflict for not getting what one WANTS or receives unwanted (unexpected) emotions/sensations for getting it.

I used the 'dumb blonde' stereotype as a mere common example of the contemporary justification for how or why some people appear to embrace 'stupidity' (the opposite act of 'smart') because I do NOT believe people intentionally choose to go against what is naturally comfortable. Intelligence is a product of reflecting that ONLY evolves to respond to unpredictable reality. If our cells, collectively as a living entity, did not require thinking to measure the environment, this function is superfluous and is wasteful as it expends unnecessary energy. If we lack stimulii which challenges our brain, our brain rests.

So my response here is not 'trivial'. Nor is it 'smart' for one to resist intelligence when or where demanded. It is where it is NOT demanded, to which I am saying intelligence need not apply as it WOULD be stupid to inquire a 'why?' for what one is not MOTIVATED to ask.

Example: I am hungry. For this internal motive it drives me to eat. If I can eat and am thus satisfied, I rest. That is, I don't require seeking to eat right after I've eaten because my GOAL has been successfully achieved. It is when I am unsatisfied due to either not being able to find something to eat or if what I have eaten causes some other motive (like "this tastes gross...I need to spit it out") that you do NOT require thinking about it with purpose or intent. In fact, if we DO receive what we want but then DO dwell on what is apparently already received (motive to think or any other behavior), this can be a sign of a problem. Addictions do this for instance.

Got it?

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Re: What is information?

Post by The Voice of Time » Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:33 am

Scott Mayers wrote: Got it?
I see a huge major flaw in your thought-process.

If you spend time with trivial matters, how would you know the important ones?

In other words: people who dedicate their time and their efforts to work on trivial matters, cannot be smart, because they don't have the time to be smart. You could multi-task on this and be half-smart or something, but an ability to be smart require time and effort. I define smart as the ability to use knowledge to solve problems, regardless of how much knowledge you have (as long as you're able to solve problems), but people who act stupid are usually actually stupid, they do not have some magic property that make them sages in disguise. This is because their thought-processes do not allow them to efficiently solve problems, and instead they get stuck on unimportant matters, or allow themselves to be confused or tricked by the problem.

You can neglect the intellect, but you cannot rest it (except perhaps when calming your mind is necessary).
Scott Mayers wrote:... as a mere common example of the contemporary justification for how or why some people appear to embrace 'stupidity' (the opposite act of 'smart') because I do NOT believe people intentionally choose to go against what is naturally comfortable.
What contemporary justification? The only things I've ever seen, are people embracing it out of spite and carelessness. They choose an identity that seems tempting, and then stick to it like a british royal guard sticks to his post. The temptation is done when they're far too young or inexperienced to make a good judgement on their future.

The part about not believing in people going against what's naturally comfortable I don't understand, I can't figure out how it relates to the rest of your argumentation. I could guess, but I'll prefer to have you tell me what you were trying to say instead.
Scott Mayers wrote:Intelligence is a product of reflecting that ONLY evolves to respond to unpredictable reality.
I can agree that intelligence partially evolves out of a need to deal with unpredictability, or flexibility, but mostly it evolves out of an ability to solve any problem better than any other do. I do not agree that that it is a "product of reflecting".
Scott Mayers wrote:So my response here is not 'trivial'. Nor is it 'smart' for one to resist intelligence when or where demanded. It is where it is NOT demanded, to which I am saying intelligence need not apply as it WOULD be stupid to inquire a 'why?' for what one is not MOTIVATED to ask.
I had you until you said "one is not motivated to ask". Motivation should have nothing to do with it. Intelligence is grown through practice and testing, and this is how we expand our horizon and acquire a wider range of abilities and competencies. For this reason we must continue to use it even when a task could be done simpler with mere muscle and habit. A lot of important ideas would've been lost if we did not value this tool of ours, and used it as much as possible.

Your logic does not say a lot about when it's not demanded (except for your motivation-nonsense), and for me that's a hole for where undesirable thinking can take shelter. I'd suggest that only life-threatening situations, or situations that require rapid action or heavy work can truly be, momentarily while it's going on, free of more intelligent influences. But that's only because you've intelligently committed to those actions beforehand, or you're experiencing a reflexive response. Even when something rapid and drastic occurs, your mind and intelligence should be at play to calculate the best response you can make for the limited time you have. A bad decision can kill you, or wound your quality of life.

PS: I'm slightly confused as to what the total picture of your argumentation is, you write a bit too much text that's not very well organized. I'd suggest you try to write more compressed so that I can better understand what you want to achieve with what you say.

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Re: What is information?

Post by Scott Mayers » Sun Feb 28, 2016 5:18 am

The Voice of Time wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote: Got it?
I see a huge major flaw in your thought-process.

If you spend time with trivial matters, how would you know the important ones?
Define 'trivial'. Whatever your personal idea of what this is is highly subjective.
In other words: people who dedicate their time and their efforts to work on trivial matters, cannot be smart, because they don't have the time to be smart. You could multi-task on this and be half-smart or something, but an ability to be smart require time and effort. I define smart as the ability to use knowledge to solve problems, regardless of how much knowledge you have (as long as you're able to solve problems), but people who act stupid are usually actually stupid, they do not have some magic property that make them sages in disguise. This is because their thought-processes do not allow them to efficiently solve problems, and instead they get stuck on unimportant matters, or allow themselves to be confused or tricked by the problem.

You can neglect the intellect, but you cannot rest it (except perhaps when calming your mind is necessary).
I'm confused by your own wording here. It appears as innuendo.

I am not promoting 'stupidity'. I said that intelligence requires a motive and that it is NORMAL not to seek and learn where it APPEARS relevant to them. Many people get through a university degree with little actual 'intelligence' because they don't internalize (reflect) upon what they learned. Often they are just good at memorizing (rote learning) and relatively clerical. "Intelligence" can't be forced. It is something that comes from real life challenges.

Scott Mayers wrote:... as a mere common example of the contemporary justification for how or why some people appear to embrace 'stupidity' (the opposite act of 'smart') because I do NOT believe people intentionally choose to go against what is naturally comfortable.
What contemporary justification? The only things I've ever seen, are people embracing it out of spite and carelessness. They choose an identity that seems tempting, and then stick to it like a british royal guard sticks to his post. The temptation is done when they're far too young or inexperienced to make a good judgement on their future.

The part about not believing in people going against what's naturally comfortable I don't understand, I can't figure out how it relates to the rest of your argumentation. I could guess, but I'll prefer to have you tell me what you were trying to say instead.
The 'contemporary justification [for people choosing to prefer stupidity]' refers to many today who purposely support 'stupidity' as a type of rebellious act. See "Jack Ass" or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR3Cho ... fcn87wMJag among many contemporary examples of risk seekers wanting to do absurd stunts or highly risky things. I only mentioned these types of 'stupidity' since they are often about entertainment or fun, not necessarily one being 'stupid' by accident or neglect. So I was dismissing this form of 'stupidity' for what I was meaning.

As to those who are accidentally stupid, these people are what I'm saying are NOT doing anything WRONG because they just lack the NEED to invest in intelligence. It doesn't mean that they could or should try to be more intelligent where necessary. For instance, I think someone like Tony Robbins, is 'stupid' by default of lacking a need to actually think with logic. But he is 'smart' because he uses what he is limited in his knowledge effectively as he makes a lot of money for his advise. [He could be 'secretly' intelligent too. But then he's just a con using it to separate other gullible people from their money.]
Scott Mayers wrote:Intelligence is a product of reflecting that ONLY evolves to respond to unpredictable reality.
I can agree that intelligence partially evolves out of a need to deal with unpredictability, or flexibility, but mostly it evolves out of an ability to solve any problem better than any other do. I do not agree that that it is a "product of reflecting".

Here's where you would do good to reflect. :roll: An ability to solve problems IS a product of reflection. If you simply learn the rules of chess, this doesn't qualify you with sufficient intelligence. But if you've played many games, AND LOST a lot, this may instigate a willingness (motive) to try to think with more intent. It is THIS that makes one more intelligent.

If you are a handsome or beautiful model who succeeds well without having to try hard, you lack the motive to question why you are not getting precisely what you ARE getting. If you are born into wealth, for instance, do you require learning "how to become wealthy"? You might perhaps want to learn how to prevent yourself from becoming poor by losing your wealth. But if you haven't even perceived this risk, what purpose does it serve to entertain learning how to get what you've already got?

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Re: What is information?

Post by Obvious Leo » Sun Feb 28, 2016 7:57 am

In physics information is the raw data which our mind receives via our senses and then processes into a comprehensible map of physical reality. That's why I love this definition.
A_Seagull wrote:Information constitutes the interface between the noumena and the phenomena.
Alternatively one could also say that information actually IS the ding an sich.

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