By: José M. Díaz Nafría (Universidad de León / Facultad de Educación, Campus de Vegazana León, Spain;  University of Santa Elena (UPSE), Santa Elena, Ecuador; Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

Paper presented in: 2015 Summit of the international Society of Information Studies IS4IS-2015, Vienna, Austria (Extended abstract published in Sciforum)

Abstract: Is needless to insist on the significant increase of the complexity we are living in. Whereas the social order arisen with modernity encompassed –at the level of the nation-states– a reduction of social complexity through cultural normalization, the new social and political order is nowadays to be intercultural, multilingual and even multi-national. National life is more and more entangled with international relations, and cannot be conceived anymore with our backs turned to nature. All this makes that the traditional context of posing ethical questions is rather different. The universality paradigm that pervaded many classical approaches in ethics is not so convincing anymore. Anthropology, ethnography, intercultural ethics has shown the fragility of such pretentious positions. As in any other cultural change, it is quite clear that at the age of information we need a new way of addressing the issues of the proper behavior, the deep question of the good live in the complexity that is proper to our society. We may encounter a way of diminishing the complexity at the level of the human agency, as it was the case of cultural normalization in modernity, but we have to do it in another way. The subsidiarity principle represents a way to decrease complexity at the level of the agents while preserving the complexity at the global level. Something that is equally performed in the living organism or in the organization of decentralized political systems. E-subsidiarity was essayed in Allende’s Chile and thereafter in the organization of multinational corporations and successful cooperative organizations, e.g. in the Basque country. Could it become a new ethical paradigm at the information age?

Cybersin-p1By M. Ortiz Osorio (University of León, Spain) and J.M. Díaz Nafría (University of León, Spain; University of Santa Elena, Ecuador; Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

Abstract: During the government of Salvador Allende, Chile implemented a paradigmatic system of control and regulation of production, emerged from the need of controlling and knowing the Chilean nationalized industry concerning the needs to provide.

Allende believed that the transformation pathway to socialism could be different to those that had existed, and he suggested a model of integration with the worker as the core of process management and decision making. In that sense the Cybersyn project was designed with the goal of having a decentralized state control of the industrial production able to attend real needs properly and timely. Starting on real-time information that would anticipate and correct potential incidents before they even occur.

The project provided valuable information on the nationalized companies for coordination and operation, being a political tool of vital importance for Allende’s government for which decision-making issues reach the most proper level. Latin American current processes of social disruption allow us to analyze the historical perspective of this project to find parallelizing, similarities and common points that allow us to extend the analysis of industrial relevance of these cases. Furthermore, the current political, economic and social reality has evolve in such a way that the Cybersyn model requires an adaptation to new relevant complex features of the social system which challenge its practicality.

  • Paper presented in the European Meeting of Cybernetics and System Research-EMCSR, Vienna, April 2014 (included in the book of abstracts): EMCSR-14-Cybersin

EMCSR14-JMDN-Information ethics_p1By J.M. Díaz Nafría (University of León, Spain; University of Santa Elena, Ecuador; Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

Abstract: Insofar the interactions developed between social, technical and natural agents have been now significantly modified by the new information and communication technologies (ICT), we can speak of a new social dynamic arisen therefrom. Moreover, the central role that information takes in social life has lead us to talk about the dawn of the information age. If we take this seriously, a consequent ethical thinking should start unravelling the tangled skein through rephrasing what information really is and how it can be understood throughout reality. Otherwise, how could we think our proper behaviour embedded in the complex realm of informational interactions of all kind?

In any case, is it feasible puzzling out most appropriate behaviours from the outset –as a sort of optimized code? Or rather, are there fundamental constraints setting the optimum completely out of reach and our whole (cultural) history just the path of the exploration? The globalisation process, developed in strong connection to the deployment of information technologies in very unequal benefit to different groups of the global human system, settles a situation in which the management of the global system complexity is significantly apart from democratic handling, despite the broad usage of democratic facades. Indeed participatory process –concerning relevant decision-making issues– are hard to be found behind these facades. Addressing the issue of inequality at the global scale is in our view a fundamental question of today’s information ethics for which an approach based on electronic-Subsidiarity is proposed.

  • Paper presented in the European Meeting of Cybernetics and System Research-EMCSR, Vienna, April 2014 (included in the book of abstracts): EMCSR14-JMDN-Information ethics

First page of the power point presentation

By José María Díaz Nafría (University of León, Spain; Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

It is the purpose of this contribution arguing that emergence, on the one hand, exists as something new in nature; on the other hand, that it is something transcending classical computation. To this end, it is suggested a careful generalization of the concept of agency, proposed by Stuart Kauffman as system able to perform at least one thermodynamic work cycle, throughout all the levels of complexity – from pre‐geometry to social contexts –. We set off from the level of pre‐geometry (described in terms of spin networks in the sense of Roger Penrose) leading up to social systems. At this higher level, we deal with agents who have self‐reflection and try to reconstruct objects and situations from essentially limited information. To that purpose hermeneutical agency is introduced, in which the cycles defined by observation‐representation can be seen in thermodynamic terms, and is the goal for such agent the reduction of the complexity of the related representation, generally linked to some pragmatic situation. At this level, innovation can be visualized, in the best case, as emergence in social contexts. But in order to move throughout all the latter of complexity, we propose as unifying principle that the pair energy‐matter can be regarded alongside the pair information‐structure (representing such bipolarity the difference and relation between potentiality and actuality). Whereas energy is conceptualized as potentiality to perform work (change), we claim that information can be visualized – from the outset – as potentiality to utilize such work in benefit of the organization of the system, being structure the actualization of such organization potential represented by information. Since the beneficial use of work is fundamental for defining agency, this general understanding of information facilitate the task of properly extending the concept of agency to the whole hierarchy of complexity and to visualize agents as playing natural games at the different levels. Using such viewpoint we shall map, on the one hand, agency dynamics through game theoretical applications; on the other hand, evolutionary system dynamics through mathematical category theory.

By José María Díaz Nafría (University of León, Spain), Rainer Zimmermann (Munich University of Applied Sciences)

Though the hermeneutical cycle could be represented by the famous adagio of Heraclitus “the way up and the way down is one and the same”, in strict sense the cycle of interpretation is intrinsically irreversible. Such irreversibility is also inherent to thermodynamic and informational cycles, as well as to the evolution of complexity in the universe from the most elementary interaction of matter – as represented by spin networks – to the creation of molecules, biological structures, cognitive and social systems, as discussed in the first part. Such argued “skeleton-of-the-universe” provides as well an upwards path to the hierarchical evolution of complexity, as a downwards path to interpret and modify reality. The argued fundamentality in the emergence of regularities and meaning imposes essential constraints to the interaction with the world when we aim at interpreting it. One of these emergencies – relevant to our means of awareness – is represented by electromagnetic fields, which correspond to the regularity arising from the interaction of a more elementary level of matter. Our vision (even if assisted by microscopic techniques) is strictly constrained to the structural regularities of the electromagnetic fields. It is easy to show from the corresponding structural constraints that the world is not as we observe it. However, since we are products of the world as well – i.e. attached to the same skeleton-of-the-universe –, the very complexity of our mechanism of awareness has the possibility of creatively imagining reality, similar as the world creates it. Information – in a cognitive sense, which can be derived from a wider perspective of information in other natural processes – correspond to the actualization of this creative imagination while interacting with the world. This interaction imposes a non-reversible path in the interpretation of reality.

  • Access to the presentation at the interdisciplinary workshop on information and technology: “The Difference That Make a Difference” DTMAD-2010 at the Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, September, 2011

By Rainer Zimmermann (Munich University of Applied Sciences), José María Díaz Nafría (University of León, Spain)

In this first part of the paper, the category of meaning is traced forward starting from the origin of the Universe itself as well as its very grounding in pre-geometry. Different from many former approaches in the theories of information and also in biosemiotics, we will show that the forms of meaning emerge simultaneously (alongside) with information. Hence, information is always meaningful (in a sense to be explicated) rather than meaning showing up as a later specification of information within social systems only. This perspective taken has two immediate consequences: 1. We follow the GDI as defined by Floridi, though we modify it somehow as to the aspect of truthfulness. 2. We can conceptually solve Capurro’s trilemma. Hence, what we actually do is to follow the strict (i.e. optimistic) line of UTI in the sense of Hofkirchner’s. While doing this, we treat matter, energy, and information as three different categorial aspects of one and the same underlying primordial structure. We thus demonstrate the presently developing convergence of physics, biology, and computer science (as well as the various theories of information) in some detail and draft out a line of argument eventually leading up to the further unification of UTI and biosemiotics.

José María Díaz Nafría (Science of Information Institute, Washington, U.S.A; Universidad de León, Spain) and Francisco Salto Alemany (Area of Logic and Philosophy of science, Universidad de León,Spain)

Abstract of the paper: A trans-disciplinary frame is proposed, aimed at addressing the very understanding of information in all its variety. It aims at unifying perspectives and integrating techniques from different fields of knowledge and practice, searching for the most overarching account of information phenomena, a better formalization of real processes and a global stance towards problems concerning information. Such research frame might try to answer: Which are the basic distinct accounts of information to be applied in fields from telecommunication to philosophy, from biology to documentation, from logic to quantum physics? Which are the minimum primitive concepts that may cover all of them? Is a unified theory feasible? Could a better information measure be found? Could the societal and practical interest be better preserved in an integrated perspective of information?

The methodological proposal aims at opening a space for the interweaving of different scientific frameworks (characterized by specific paradigms and methodologies) to delve into the very landscape of information, searching for a transdisciplinary treatment of theoretical, technical and practical problems concerning information. It is based on an already active interdisciplinary International community and a critical mass of research groups at the global level. By means of bridging these communities, a new transdisciplinary science of information might emerge as an integrated framework in which information will be considered in all its formal, natural, cognitive, social, technical, ethical and philosophical aspects.

Carlos Aguilar, Lidya Sánchez & Manuel Campos (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain)

In this article we show how it is possible to use Channel Theory [Barwise and Seligman, 1997] for modeling the process of information extraction realized by audiences of audio-visual contents. To do this, we rely on the concepts proposed by Channel Theory and, especially, its treatment of representational systems. We then show how the information an agent is capable of extracting from a content depends on the number of channels he is able to establish between the content and the set of classifications he is able to discriminate. The agent can endeavor the extraction of information through these channels from the totality of content; however, we discuss the advantages of extracting from its constituents in order to obtain a greater number of informational items that represent it. After showing how the extraction process is endeavored for each channel, we propose a method of representation of all the informative values an agent can obtain from a content using a matrix constituted by the channels the agent is able to establish on the content (source classifications), and the ones he can understand as individual (destination classifications). We finally show how this representation allows reflecting the evolution of the informative items through the evolution of audio-visual content.

  • Full article published in Sciforum (preliminary version), site of the FIS2010 – 4th International Conference on the Foundations of Information Science, Beijin, August 2010.
  • A reviewed version will be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal TripleC 8(2).

José María Díaz Nafría (Science of Information Institute, Washington, U.S.A; Universidad de León, Spain) and Mario Pérez-Montoro (Department of Information Science, University of Barcelona, Spain)

In this second part of our inquiry into the relation between information and cognition, we delve into the physical limits of the manifestation of an arbitrary object first with independence of any observer, then considering the nature of perception. The analysis of the manifestations of an object in a homogeneous environment by means of wave phenomena shows that the information carried by such manifestations offers a constitutive fuzziness and ambiguity of the observed object. On the one hand, the details that can be specified concerning the object are strictly limited by the wave length; on the other hand, the volumetric details of the object (i.e. its bowls) are outlawed to the observer, not in virtue of the object opacity, but to the very dimension or complexity of the wave phenomenon in the space surrounding the object. The analysis of perception, considering this physical boundary and the specificity of the animal sensitivity, shows the combined role of other concurrent or previous percept and some a priori knowledge in the perception and awareness of reality.

José María Díaz Nafría (Universidad de León, Spain)

Abstract: Looking for an answer to the posed question, we will first go through a brief historical enquiry aiming at exploring the development of the uses given to the Latin word “informatio” from its Greek roots until its scientific formalisation in hands of the Mathematical Theory of Communication. Secondly and starting from the conceptual limitations of Shannon’s theory, we will put forward the most important theoretical demands claimed by many scientific and technical fields, directly concerned with the usage of information concepts. Such claims eventually entail an open critic to Shannon’s definition with different degrees of radicality, proposing a perspective change in which the different uses and disciplinary interests might be better represented. In order to foster an interdisciplinary approach aiming at gathering together the competing views of information and at bridging their theoretical and practical interests, a sketched glossary of concepts concerning information is proposed as an interdisciplinary tool.