March 16, 2011

Objects as Information

The blog entries of this blog are perfect examples of objects that may be thought of as "pieces of information". More generally, anything that can be stored on or transferred between computers may be thought of as pieces of information.

Not every object is of this kind, though. For example, the window in front of me is nothing I can upload and make available for download on the Internet. I can, however, take photos of the window and store those photos in a computer, and I can describe what the window looks and store that description on a computer. In fact, I could make my description so detailed that you could construct a close-to-identical window, and so it certainly seems that while I cannot store the window on a computer it somehow nevertheless involves information.

An example that falls somewhere in between the two types just exemplified is money. Today money is stored on and transferred between computers, but there are restrictions on how money can be "copied". Money certainly involves information, though.

Must an object inevitably involve information? I think the answer has to be yes, because we can always ask questions about an object, and the answers to such questions give us information about the object.

There are several points that can be made on the basis of these considerations. First of all, with two pieces of information we can ask whether one "is part of"/"can be extracted from" the other, and if objects are (closely related to) pieces of information then this carries over to objects. For example, the first paragraph of this blog post is something that can be extracted from this blog post.

Second, if objects are closely related to pieces of information, then what about truths? It is a truth about this blog post that it contains more than four paragraphs, and this truth can surely be seen as a piece of information. In fact, it is a truth that can be extracted from this blog post (given the terminology just introduced).

Third, is not a (possibly incorrect) statement about an object also an example of a piece of information that is related to the object? With a suitable meaning of "statement" the answer must be yes. For example, if I say that "The window in front of me has a blue frame", then that is a piece of information I extracted from an object, but it can also be looked upon as a possibly incorrect piece of information (statement). To see if it is correct or not, examine the object it purports to be about, see what can be extracted from that object.

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