Information Theory

information theory
Image from Steve Bowers

Information Theory has its origins as Atomic Age mathematical theory concerning the difference between information and noise, and the ability of a communications channel to carry information. More subtle and elaborate transingularity information theories were developed by various ai and posthumans during the Interplanetary and later periods.
  • A-lifes  - Text by Anders Sandberg and Steve Bowers
    Beings evolved in artificial life simulations. Instead of being designed like AIs, they evolve in a Darwinian way within a virtual environment (see Software Based Evolution).
  • AI, ai  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Etymologically, Artificial Intelligence, although the original use of the term "artificial" has long been meaningless in this context. Broadly speaking, "AI" means any non-organic sentient being, although it is most often applied to those of SI:1 or greater (in contrast to aioids). When spelt in lower case the term can refer either to any subsingularity aioid as well.
  • Anagnitics - Text by John B
    The science of missing knowledge. This high-Sophont-level science/artform, as best can be described to the SI:<1 intellect, involves canvassing the entire body of knowledge available at a given place/time and 'mapping' that information on an 'information map' (both quoted terms are extreme simplifications according to the translating sophonts). This 'information map' can then be perused and, theoretically, voids of knowledge may be discovered - areas where there are physical restrictions/laws. (Agnitio - from latin "recognition, knowledge", and "an-" prefix for "not").
  • Bayesjutsu  - Text by Daniel Eliot Boese
    A formalized discipline of rationality; a martial art of mind rather
    than of physical motion.
  • Bekenstein Bound  - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhumanist Terminology
    The upper bound of the amount of information inside a spherical region with a given energy. Information in this context is to be understood as distinguishable (quantum) states. Due to the uncertainty relations it is possible to derive a bound of the form
  • Binary - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Written in a form that uses only 0s and 1s. A string of bits.
  • Bloatware Syndrome, The  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Sometimes called King Gnuff's Curse. A phenomenon that plagues some ambitious entities who seek power through massive expansion of their existing hardware and software without fundamental re-design, sometimes with tragic results.
  • Bremermann's Limit  - Text by Mike Parisi
    The maximum limit allowed for computation under the laws of physics.
  • Complex System  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any entity that consists of many simpler interacting components.
  • Complexity  - Text by Stephen Inniss; original by M. Alan Kazlev
    The property of an object or a system in which the elements or agents that compose it are diverse, connected, interdependent, and adapt to one another. In a complex object or system the whole transcends the parts, and phenomena emerge through bottom-up self-organization that could not easily be predicted by examining its elements. Complex systems produce novelty and may exhibit drastic phase changes at certain critical thresholds, yet at the same time they are often very robust. Organisms, ecosystems, societies and cultures, and economies all show high degrees of complexity. Many transapients and archailects are interested in complexity and hence encourage it.
  • Consistency Theorems - Text by Anders Sandberg
    The Novikov consistency principle states that the probability of a series of events leading to an inconsistent or paradoxical physical state (such as travelling back in time and killing ones grandfather before one's father was born) is zero. The consistency theorems of Wu, Lang, and Bauger proved this principle within the framework of information physics.
  • Datastructuralism   - Text by Arik
    An art theory, memeplex, and form generated by theories in cognitive neuroscience regarding the fundamental nature of aesthetics to organize information.
  • Emergence - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The process whereby more Complex systems arise from simpler systems. Emergence is unanticipated and cannot be directly deduced from the lower-level behaviors. Usually, The nature and behaviour of the more complex system cannot be defined in terms of its components. For example, the organization of a nanecology is said to emerge from the interactions of the lower-level behaviors of the nanites, and not from any single nanite. The concept has applications in many fields, from chemistry to biology to psychology and the social sciences.
  • Feedback - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A loop in information flow or in cause and effect; a necessary component of any self-organizing and autopoeic system.
  • Fundamentalist Science - Text by Anders Sandberg
    "Rebooting" science from scratch. Researchers (sometimes simulated virtual researchers, sometimes real) work in isolation from earlier knowledge to discover the laws of nature and their applications. The drawback is the extreme expense, slowness and the many elementary rediscoveries, but in a few cases the new research tree bears fruit and produces a marvel.
  • Fuzzy Logic - Text by Anders Sandberg
    A multivalued logic that allows intermediate values to be defined between conventional evaluations like yes/no, true/false, black/white, etc. Notions like rather warm or pretty cold can be formulated mathematically and processed by computers and AIs.
  • Genetic Encryption  - Text by Daniel Eliot Boese
    Sequences of genetic material are used to carry a message or the key to an encrypted message.
  • Gigology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The study of gigo, and how specific faulty information results in specific incorrect output. A popular field among some transapients.
  • Information - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A sequence of data that is meaningful in a process, such as the DNA code of an organism or the bits in a computer program. Information is the opposite of noise.
  • Information Storage  - Text by Johnny Yesterday
    Mass data storage and retrieval
  • Information-Theoretical Death - Text by Tim Freeman, in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
    A being has reached information-theoretic death if a healthy state of that person could not possibly be deduced from the current state. The exact timing of information-theoretic death depends on details of how the brain or equivalent works and the kind of damage it has sustained, as well as the available technology and on the degree of fidelity to the original state. The current best estimates put it several hours after clinical death if hyperturing medicine is available.
  • Iteration - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A repetition of a statement or statements in a program; a problem-solving or computational method in which a succession of approximations, each building on the one preceding, in order to achieve a reasonably accuracy result.
  • Lamarckian AI - Text by Peter Kisner
    AIs that follow a Lamarckian route of evolution through self-modification. Each generation of AIs designs the next generation to be an improvement or specialization over the previous. And/or AIs are able to alter themselves so thoroughly during the course of their "life" that they effectively specialize to fit their environment over the course of one generation. Contrast this with Darwinian AI.
  • Madfundie - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Madverts created by or incorporating a fundiebook, or memeticities thereof. More enthusiastic, friendly, and tenacious than ordinary fundiebook, sometimes masquerading as a genuine corporate madvert, before revealing itself to an unwitting sentient.
  • Madvert  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A simple, often quasi-insect-like autonomous bot, alife, or ai used for advertising, sometimes with limited self-replication. Particularly chronic during the later Federation and early Expansion period, self-replicating madverts are generally considered a nuisance and banned in most empires, except the NoCoZo and other mercantile regions.
  • Meta-idea - Text by Fernando Peña D'Andrea
    Non-ambiguous, interpretation-free and (most times) non-redundant description of an idea, sensation, thought or memory.
  • Morphology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The shape of something, especially the organic form of a living being. Also, the study of how morphology is regulated in complex systems such as developing tissues or nanosystems.
  • Order - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Information that fits a purpose, or is in some way teleological. In the evolution of life-forms, of memes, and of wild bionano the purpose is to survive and replicate; in an evolutionary algorithm or an ISOgenic sentient algorithm or aioid, the purpose is to solve the problem, or create an elegant or pleasing solution. More information or complexity or a higher toposophic grade does not necessarily result in a better fit, since a superior solution may require either more or less information, complexity, and toposophy. Evolution indicates however that the general trend toward greater order does generally result in greater complexity. Some archailect empires, such as the Negentropy Alliance and the Caretaker Gods, are, in different ways, greatly concerned that order be preserved and conserved.
  • Paradigm - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] A pattern, model, or general approach to solving a problem.
    [2] A memetically entrenched way of looking at things.
    [3] Short for the Efficiency Maximization Paradigm.
  • Phase Transition - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    In physics, a change from one state of matter to another. In dynamical systems theory, a change from one mode of behaviour to another. In distributed meso- or nano-swarms, a change in the coordination and activity of the swarm. In toposophy, a change from one singularity level to another.
  • Program - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] A set of instructions that enables a computer to perform a specific task.
    [2] The machine language substratum of an AI's code.
  • Self-Organization - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, based on original by Gary William Flake
    A spontaneously formed higher-level pattern or structure that emerges through the interactions of lower-level objects or patterns, whether in virch or r/l. Self-organization would seem to be a fundamental principle behind complexity in the universe, and is taken into account when creating new templates or designer nanecologies. Order, life and intelligence all seem to emerge through a process of self-organization. See also Self-Organized Criticality.
  • Sensestem  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    Any large system that has gained sentience but not sophonce as an emergent property
  • Software Based Evolution - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Software simulation of the evolutionary process; the fundamental principle of alife. Beginning in the early information period, software-based evolution enabled "creatures" which are software simulations of biological organisms, in which each cell has its own DNA-like genetic code. Digital organisms and subsophont alifes compete with one another for the limited simulated space and energy resources of their simulated environment. Although many other variations have since been used, darwinian selection remains a potent factor in the evolution and cladization of alife.
  • Stamp  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Data security tags recognised throughout the Terragen Sphere.
  • Subroutine - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, adapted from KurzweilAI
    A program, block of programs, sublect, or group of sublects organizationally distinct from the main body of the program or mind, which may be called from within the program or mind. Most high toposophic minds and even medium level ai make extensive use of subroutines.
  • System - Text by M. Alan Kazlev based on original by Gary William Flake
    Something that can be studied as a whole. Systems have an internal state, inputs from and feedback to an environment, and methods for manipulating the environment or themselves. They may consist of subsystems that are themselves systems, or they may exist in an environment that consists of other similar systems. Organic and a-life, virtuals, and other entities are all systems.
  • Translogic  - Text by John B
    'Translogic' is the term baselines use to describe transapient logical thought. 'Translogic' may be related to logic as quantum mechanics is related to Newtonian mechanics, or non-Euclidean geometry relates to Euclidean geometry.
  • Turing Machine  - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    An idealized computer consisting of an infinite tape and a read-write "head" which moves back and forth on the tape, reading and writing, according to a rule set that refers to i) what it sees on the tape ii) an internal "memory" state.
  • Turing Test - Text by M. Alan Kazlev based on Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    Turing's proposed test for whether a machine is conscious (or intelligent, or aware): the subject communicates via text with the machine and with a hidden human. If the subject cannot tell which of their partners in the dialog is the human, then the computer is conscious (i.e. is an AI). Turing did not specify many key details, such as the duration of the interrogation and the sophistication of the human judge and foils. By the middle Information Age, computer AIs were regularly passing the test, although its validity remained a point of controversy and philosophical debate for some decades more.
  • Turingrade  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An ai of baseline human equivalent intelligence and sapience.
  • Universal Computer - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An idealized hypothetical computer that is capable of universal computation, which means that it is capable of computing anything that can in principle be computed. Given a description of any other computer or program and some data, it can perfectly emulate this second computer or program.
  • Virbiology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] The study and science of alife.
    [2] Study of organics as simulated in a virtual environment.
    [3] Cybercosm biology and ecology.
  • Vivisystem - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhumanist Terminology
    Systems with lifelike properties (adaptability, complexity, evolvability, resiliency etc.), such as ecosystems, alife, economies and minds.
  • Zero Knowledge Proof - Text by Anders Sandberg in hisTranshumanist Terminology
    An interactive or probabilistic proof that demonstrates that one person has a certain piece of information without revealing it. Very useful in cryptography.
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 09 November 2001.

Additional Information