Information Theory

From: Hawkins, Sean (
Date: Thu May 22 1997 - 17:00:33 BST

What is information ?

I do not believe c (anything which reduces your uncertainty)
is the correct answer.

Information may reduce uncertainty or increase it. The
inference that information reduces uncertainty infers that
there was a degree of uncertainty before receiving the
information. For example, if you are provided with one
piece of information - "The sky is blue", may reduce
uncertainty if you were uncertain as to the colour of the
sky, but if someone else subsequently provides you with
contrary of conflicting information "The sky is red and I
can prove it" can only increase your uncertainty.

My other point concers relevance of information in the
context of reducing uncertainty. Information is a social
construct and although registration is through one of the
sensory modalities, consciously or unconsciously we decide
whether the information is relevant or not and whether we
wish to retain it. There is not necessarily a reduction in
uncertainty - there may just be a rejection of the
information because of its irrelevance.

In addition, a new piece of information will not reduce
uncertainty in subjects of which we have little or no
knowledge - as there was no uncertainty to begin with! In
other words, we do not know what we do not know, and
being provided with information does not reduce uncertainty
in subjects of which we had no uncertainty to begin with.

Taking these points into consideration, I therefore
challenge the answer and await with some uncertainty (sic)
your reponse!

[I choose e (none of the above) as there can be no
universally agreed definitive response to the question.]

Sean Hawkins

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