Researchers at the Santa Fe Institute has come up with a new definition of information that includes meaning but also seems to include non-conscious entities:
Our framework is grounded in the intrinsic dynamics of a system coupled to an environment, and is applicable to any physical system, living or otherwise. It leads to formal definitions of several concepts that have been intuitively understood to be related to semantic information, including ‘value of information’, ‘semantic content’ and ‘agency’.
ENST asks, “can semantics really be “meaningful” in a realm of non-conscious entities”?
With this definition, they want a theory able to encompass every interaction in biology and even physics. They even see information flow in rocks and hurricanes! To them, their definition helps “sort the wheat from the chaff when trying to make sense of the information a physical system has about its environment.” Any system, physical or biological, that sustains its existence has semantic information, according to this view. Notice it need not be symbolic. “Trends in Philosophy of Science: What Does “Semantic Information” Mean?” at Evolution News and Science Today
Of course, if we do equate information flow in rocks with information flow in minds, we are probably looking at a naturalist (materialist) view of consciousness: Nature is all there is and everything is conscious. There is a certain simplicity to it; there is no hard problem of consciousness; it’s an illusion.
As noted at Mind Matters:
To understand why Scientific American would take panpsychism or the “multiple personality disorder” universe seriously, one needs to begin by grasping how very hard the problem of consciousness is for materialists (naturalists). Put simply, it is easier for many today to stomach the idea that an electron is conscious than the idea that consciousness is not a material entity.
That position is not, of course, science. It is simply where materialism ends up. And if the current scene is any guide, we will hear stranger views yet.
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See also: Panpsychism: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug Materialists have a solution to the problem of consciousness, and it may startle you