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Week 3 Research

September 14, 2008

The Human Use of Human Beings – Norbert Weiner

  • society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever increasing part
  • the commands through which we exercise our control over our environment are a kind of information which we impart to it
  • we are always fighting nature’s tendency to degrade the organized and to destroy the meaningful; the tendency…for entropy to increase
  • the lucky accident which permits the continuation of life in any form on this earth even without restricting life to something like human life, is bound to come to a complete and disastrous end becauseĀ  the chemical reactions necessary to life as we know it are extremely limited range of physical conditions
  • In a very real sense we are shipwrecked passengers on a doomed planet. Yet even in a shipwreck, human decencies and human values do not necessarily vanish, and we must make the most of them.
  • limited consideration of the future is foreign to the emotional euphoria of the average man, and particularly to that of the average American

Grammatical Man – Jeremy Campbell

  • forces of chance and of antichance coexist in a complementary relationship. The random element is called entropy, the agent of chaos, which tends to mix up the unmixed, to destroy meaning. The nonrandom element is information, which exploits the uncertainty inherent in the entropy principle to generate new structures, to inform the world in novel ways
  • forces of antichance are as universal as the forces of chance, even though entropy has been presented as the overwhelmingly more powerful principle
  • proper metaphor for the life process may [not be chance but rather] the sentences of a language, conveying information that is partly predictable and partly unpredictable. These sentences are generated by rules which make much out of little, producing a boundless wealth of meaning from a finite store of words; they enable language to be familiar yet surprising, constrained yet unpredictable within its constraints.
  • The world need not regress toward the simple, the uniform, and the banal, but may advance in the direction of richer and more complex structures, physical and mental.
  • Life, like language, remains ‘grammatical.’ The classical view of entropy implied that structure is the exception and confusion the rule.
  • “The theory of information suggests instead that order is entirely natural: grammatical man inhabits a grammatical universe.”
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