To facilitate discussion, we are publishing the abstracts of the 24 papers from the Cornell Conference on the Origin of Biological Information here at Uncommon Descent, with cumulative links to previous papers at the bottom of each page.
An excerpt from Introductory Comments by Robert J. Marks II for Section One, Information Theory & Biology:
All agree there is information in biological structure and function. Although the term information is commonly used in science, its precise definition and nature can be illusive, as illustrated by the following questions:
• When a paper document is shredded, is information being destroyed? Does it matter whether the shredded document is a copy of an un-shredded document
and can be replaced?
• Likewise, when a digital picture is taken, is digital information being created or merely captured?
• The information on a DVD can be measured in bits. Does the amount of information differ if the DVD contains the movie Braveheart or a collection of randomly generated digital noise?
• When a human dies, is experiential information lost? If so, can birth and experience create information?
• If you are shown a document written in Japanese, does the document contain information whether or not you know Japanese? What if instead, the document is written in an alien language unknowable to man?
The answers to these questions vary in accordance to the information model used. However, there are properties of information common to all models. As noted by Norbert Wiener [1, 2], the father of cybernetics:
“Information is information, neither matter nor energy.”
Care to take a stab at answering any of these questions? Mikes are live.
Note: All conference papers here.
See also: Origin of Biological Information conference: Its goals
Origin of Biological Information conference: Origin of life studies flatlined