Information Technology


A year ago I was communicating with Ronald Watts about information. It is a topic that is way more complex than it appears at first glance. Thanks to Ronald Watts for the impetus to research this topic. As I wrote this a year ago, some technology may be dated. I have also updated some information in the arena of nano-machinery. I hope you enjoy. Upon researching the topic of information, I discovered the topic was deceivingly complex. There is much which is assumed in this arena. My purpose is not to make an exhaustive study of this subject, but to illuminate just a few points which I found interesting. I will also be looking at two possible causes of the information system found within all living cells; DNA and the associated system of Nano machines which transmit and receive the information contained in DNA. What is information? To answer that question, let us examine two 500 page books. The first contains no information, but does contain random printed symbols and blocks of color. It contains no information. The second book has symbols used in the language of English. The symbols, commonly called letters, are arranged into groups called words whose definitions are known to the author and reader. The words are arranged according to the rules of the English language. These arrangements are called sentences. The sentences pertain to and develop the central theme of evolutionary biology. The two books weight the same, but one contains information on evolutionary biology. Is this information a property of the storage medium? In this case, what IS the storage medium? A book made of paper, and letters printed by ink. The medium is a dried pulp called paper. Paper is opaque, flexible, has length and width and very little height, and has little mass. Paper was a popular storage device for information for a very long time. Ink is a staining liquid which can be formed in endless shapes on paper. Looking at both books, we can see that information is NOT a property of the storage device, paper or of the ink. It does not add mass.

Let us change the storage medium. Digitize both books and place them onto a CD. The information is no longer ink on a page, but a series of ones and zeros. Again, did the mass change from one CD to the next? No. Did the information change while it was transferred from ink to digital code? No. Not if it was transferred correctly.Therefore we can be certain that information is NOT a property of the storage medium. Information is immaterial. Since information is immaterial, we know the following quote from Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck (1744–1829), a French zoologist and philosopher, is not true. He wrote, “Life is nothing but a physical phenomenon. All life features originate in mechanical, physical, and chemical processes which are based on the properties of organic matter itself ” (Philosophie Zoologique, Paris, 1809, Vol. 1). Why is this statement false? Life, as we know it, is dependent upon the information stored in the DNA molecule. As we have discovered, information is immaterial in its nature, and not attributed to the physical attributes of the storage media. The American mathematician Norbert Wiener made the oft-cited statement: “Information is information, neither matter nor energy.” With this he acknowledged a very significant thing: information is not a material entity. The five levels of information: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and apobetics. Information is represented (that is, formulated, transmitted, stored) as a language. From a stipulated alphabet, the individual symbols are assembled into words (code). Statistics: In essence, a system of symbols which are understood and agreed upon by both the transmitter and receiver. In the case of a book, a language is chosen by the author, and the author uses the language's alphabet to make markings on paper. Syntax: The symbols are arranged into words which have specific agreed upon meanings and properly placed in sentences according to agreed upon rules of grammar. Semantics: these sentences are bearers of semantic, or specific, defined information or meaning. Pragmatics: The author may require action on the part of the receiver. The instructions must be clear. Apobetics: achieving the intended result. Let's examine this in the light of a common informational occurrence: “We are out of milk, American cheese, and bread. The children are hungry and want grilled cheese for lunch. I am already away from home running errands.” Statistics: “My wife, the Author or transmitter, selects a medium for the communication, a text using her cell phone to my cell phone. She uses English and the English alphabet because the transmitter knows that English is the only language I use.” Syntax: “My wife, the transmitter, selects words of which we both know the definitions, and begins to type her shopping list to my cell phone.” Pragmatics: “Me, husband, father, and receiver receives a text notice on my phone. I read it. It is from my Wife.) I determine that the message is important (My editor reminds me that ALL messages from my wife are important). She asks me to stop and pick up groceries for the children. They are hungry and want lunch. I read the list, stop at the store and make my purchases.” Apobetics: “I quickly return home with the groceries, the children are fed and no longer hungry. This whole topic is fascinating, but the relationship between the transmitter and receiver is stunning. In the above example, I (still) enjoy a good relationship with my wife. As we go down in size, the smaller the scale, the more amazing the relationship between the transmitter and receiver.” Bees do not possess a large cognitive capacity, but still has a very effective information based communication system. A worker bee finds a field of flowers full of nectar. The bee returns to his colony, and begins a dance which communicates direction and distance to the field. Other bees use their vision and antennae to experience the dance, and gain information to get to the same field of flowers to harvest nectar. The limited cognitive abilities of bees raises some questions;

1) How did this informative dance arise?

2) How did agreement of statistics and semantics occur between the transmitter and receiver?

3) Since the bees have limited cognitive abilities, is a processes of hit and miss even possible?

4) If the concept of communication occurred to the transmitter, how many years of dancing happened before a receiving bee considered that this dance may have a purpose and began to attempt to decipher it?

5) How did the receiver bee communicate that the message was understood and proper action was taking place?

6) How was this dance carried from generation to generation since the entire hive dies off. OR is this entire process driven by instinct. Where does instinct come from? If it comes from coded information in DNA, where does the agreement between the transmitter and receiver come from?