Information, how much in this word
It is very difficult to understand (believe me, this has been verified many times) the simple idea that the same word in different thematic areas, at different levels of analysis, by different people can denote fundamentally different concepts. For example, most are convinced that there is real consciousness, as it really is, the only problem is that we cannot describe it in words. No matter how many people deal with it, everyone deals with different things.
Although it can simply be admitted that the word “consciousness” is used by many different meanings, that is, it denotes different concepts, and this will end the endless controversy. We observe the same story with the word “information” – one can count more than a hundred different definitions, sometimes very far from each other in content.
According to some, information is “any data presented in electronic form”, according to others – “a universal property of matter”, and right there – “a measure of the organization of the system”, also “information that a person perceives”. Someone is trying to explain the existence of many definitions of information by the fact that the very concept of “information” is multifaceted and complex, and even declares it fundamental and undefined.
But it is clear that the above definitions cannot describe a thing in any way: the flow of symbols transmitted through communication channels cannot be a measure of the complexity of the system, and the information perceived by a person cannot be a universal property of matter.
Furthermore, I will try to convince you of the following: first, there is no information in itself, what can be said to be this information in itself (complex, elementary, omnipresent) and just necessary to give it the only correct definition; Secondly, we are dealing with a series of mutually irreducible concepts, which are denoted in different areas by different people with the same word “information”.
So, consider a simple sentence: “Among the information on the disk, there is information that contains information that confirms my information.” No, no, this is not a play on words, but a very informative and correct phrase from the Russian language. Only in it four different concepts defined by one word “information” in full agreement with definitions taken from reliable sources:
information – any data presented in electronic form, written on paper, expressed at a meeting or present in any other medium [GOST R ISO / TO 13569-2007];
Information – any message or transmission of information about something previously unknown [Anisimov S.F. Man and Machine: Philosophical Problems of Cybernetics. M: Noka, 1958.] ;
information – information perceived by a person and (or) by special devices as a reflection of the realities of the material or spiritual world in the process of communication [GOST 7.0-99];
Information is knowledge about things, facts, ideas, etc. that can be exchanged between people in a given context [ISO/IEC 10746-2:1996].
The above definitions invite us to use the word “information” to refer to concepts such as “data”, “message”, “information” and “knowledge”. And if these concepts are called “by their proper names”, then our proposal will look like this: “Among the disk data there is a message containing information confirming my knowledge.”
That is, the phrase describes a completely trivial situation: there is data on my computer’s hard disk, among the data there is a message sent to me, for example, e-mail, after reading and understanding the message, I received information, which or that is, some specific content that I can compare with the content that I am aware of.
I would like to draw attention once again to the fact that in the case described we are dealing with four different concepts. What my computer’s disk is filling up isn’t a message or group of messages – it’s just data, basically a group of characters. A message, on the other hand, is data generated by the sender of the message so that I can read and understand it. A message is, of course, data, but not all data is a message.
The next concept that appears in the described situation is “information”, that is, what I understood, learned from the letter, what appeared in the conceptual space (one might say, in my head) after reading the message. Well, knowledge (in addition to information) is some system of concepts that was already in my mind at the time of reading the letter and that I can compare with the information I received.
It is very important here to pay attention to the fundamentally different ontological situation of messages and data, on the one hand, and information and knowledge, on the other. The former exist in the form of a set of signs (on a tablet, in a book, in speech), while the latter exist exclusively in the head in the form of conceptual constructions, ideas.
Precisely because information and knowledge they have the same existential nature – they are systems of concepts – which can be linked, compared, confirmed or refuted. And the message can be transmitted over communication lines and stored on the media because it is, by its very nature, a dataset.
Thus, the example I analyzed shows that this number of definitions of information is explained not by the complexity and versatility of the concept itself, but by the use of the word “information” to denote many different concepts (in our example, “data”, “message” “, “information”, “knowledge”). And each of these concepts is not complicated and is defined unambiguously:
Data is a set of characters intended for processing and transmission through communication channels;
message – a sequence of characters created by the sender to convey some information to the receiver;
information – an idea that is registered in the message by the sender or understood by the receiver;
Knowledge is a fixed idea that is used to unequivocally reproduce actions.
In itself, the situation with the use of a word in several meanings is quite common and not problematic, if we understand that any definition is essentially and only an agreement on the use of a word in a certain area, project or text.
There are no right or wrong definitions. An unacceptable error is just the use of a word with different meanings in the same text, as was the case with our original example. Such an error is considered a violation of the logical law of identity, which requires in the context of reasoning that the same concept be denoted by a single word.
That is, you need to be careful not to write in a text about the amount of information (data) on the disk and immediately notice that the user received the information (information) by mail.
Indeed, the above example leads to another, one might say, seductive idea: when discussing computer technology, you can completely abandon the word “information”. After all, see what we are discussing when creating digital systems:
(1) data, its size, processing and transmission through communication channels;
(ii) messages exchanged between users whose text can be viewed;
(iii) information that a given user understands when reading the messages; and
(4) knowledge stored in the user’s memory. We can talk about all this without using the word “information”, calling all concepts “by their proper names”.
Although, of course, given the rootedness in the language of the word “information”, which usually denotes some important content for the recipient, transmitted through text (written or oral), it is advisable to leave the word “information” to denote the concept of “information”. With that in mind, the last version of the sentence in our example should be written like this:
“Among the disk data there is a message containing information that confirms my knowledge.” This terminological decision states that data in general and any structured parts of it (text messages) by itself, before reading and beyond, is not information. Information can only be extracted from the data by a representative who knows the meanings of the tags, and their set is the data.
It is the information extracted from the data in the form of ideas (conceptual structures) that can be used in the actor’s activity. And the use of the terms – “information” and “knowledge” – is necessary to indicate that we call information received content that can change our state at the time of receipt, as opposed to knowledge that is already accumulated and used as needed.
The use of the word “information” to denote the concept of “information” is the most acceptable not only in my opinion, but also in the opinion of the compilers of many reference books:
information – information that a person and (or) special devices see … [GOST 7.0-99];
Information – information that some people communicate to other people orally, in writing or in some other way… [TSB, 1980];
Information – Information is basically an interpretation (meaning) of… [ISO/IEC/IEEE 24765:2010];
information – the content of the message or signal; Information taken into account during its transmission or perception… [Glossary of Terms, 1991].
Again, I emphasize: the above definitions are not about information “really”, nor about the fact that we should all accept the formulation “information is information” and abandon other options for using the word. These definitions only specify the convention regarding the use of the word “information”, which can be accessed, for example, in some projects. Participants in another project might agree to call the word “information” data.
So, for them, the sentence in our example will look like this: “Among the information on the disk there is a message with information confirming my knowledge.” By the phrases “write information to disk”, “archive information”, “transfer information”, the participants of this project will understand that this is just a set of characters, and not a message, information or knowledge.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the text, the word “information” is used not only to refer to concepts such as “data”, “message”, “information” and “knowledge”, but also as “a measure of system organization” in cybernetics. or “public ownership of matter”. But even in these areas (especially, of course, philosophy) there is no consensus.
We open books on cybernetics and read that information is “removed from uncertainty” (Shannon), “denial of entropy” (Brillouin), “a measure of the complexity of structures” (Moll), “probability of choice” (Yaglum), “ removal of indiscriminateness” Transfer diversity, which is a measure of change over time and space in the structural diversity of systems” (Ashby).
Or from philosophical “heritage” (no authors): “the universal property of matter”, “the intangible component of the material world”, “reflection in people’s minds of objective cause-and-effect relationships”, “content of reflection processes” , “one of the properties of things, phenomena, processes Objective reality. This is the same game.
In conclusion, it only remains to repeat the idea that I wanted to convey with this text: there is no fundamental and multifaceted entity that could be called the word “information”, but there are many more or less stable concepts in different thematic areas, by different people , denoted by this word. You just have to deal with this kind of situation.
And whenever you see the word “information” in the text, ask yourself in what sense the author uses it. And when you want to write the word “information”, it is better to replace it with another word, knowing that there will certainly be a reader who will understand it differently than you do. Although this does not apply to everyday conversations, in which information is received more often.
Shanon K. Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switch Circuits / K.E.Shannon // Papers on Information Theory and Cybernetics. Translation from English. edited by R. Dobrushin and O.B. Lobanova: Introduction of A.A. Kolmogorov. – M: Nauka, chap. so. Mathematical physics. literature. – 1963. – S. 333-402.
Ross Ashby. Introduction to Cybernetics / Ross Ashby. – M: Ed. at the. Lit., 1959 .– 432 p.
mall a. Information theory and aesthetic education / A. Shopping. – M: Sir. – 1966. -352 p.
Brillouin L. Information Science and Theory / L. Brillouin. – M: Ed. Mathematical physics. Literature 1960.– 392 p.