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Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Four: Pragmatic Information


Biological Information

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.

Here is John Oller’s chapter, “Pragmatic Information.” Oller is a professor of communicative disorders at the University of Louisiana.

Here’s the abstract:

The goal of this paper is to define pragmatic information with a view toward measuring it. Here, pragmatic information means the content of valid signs — the key that unlocks language acquisition by babies and to human communication through language — also the content that enables biological “codes” in genetics, embryology, and immunology to work. In such systems, the inter-related layers appear to be ranked as in a hierarchy. Sounds are outranked by syllables, in turn outranked by words, and so on. In DNA, nucleotide pairs are outranked by codons, which are outranked by genes, and so on. As signs of lower rank combine to form signs of any higher rank, combinatorial “explosions” occur. With each increase in rank, the number of possible combinations grows exponentially, but the constraints on valid strings and, thus, their pragmatic value, sharpens their focus. As a result with each explosive increase in the number of possible combinations the relative proportion of meaningful ones diminishes. Consequently, random processes of forming strings or changing them must tend increasingly toward meaninglessness (invalid and nonviable) strings. The consequent outcome of random mutations is mortality of individuals and in deep time an increasing number of disorders, diseases, and the eventual extinction of populations. More.

Note: All conference papers here.

See also: Origin of Biological Information conference: Its goals

Open Mike: Origin of Biological Information conference: Origin of life studies flatlined

Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference— Can you answer these conundrums about information?

Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Is a new definition of information needed for biology? (Chapter 2)

Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—New definition of information proposed: Universal Information (Chapter 2)

Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Three, Dembski, Ewert, and Marks on the true cost of a successful search

Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Three on the true cost of a successful search—Conservation of information


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