Philosophy and Information Technology

In a broad sense, information is processed, structured and organised data. It gives context to other data and allows decision making to be made. For instance, a particular customer’s sale in a particular restaurant is information it becomes information when the company is able to accurately identify the popular or least popular dishes. A computer can process this sort of information and provide some sort of ranking or influence on the available choices. In a more practical sense, you might say that information is a key resource or initial input that helps us to make an informed decision.

However, information theory has many inferences and exceptions. So let’s now discuss the three broad assumptions of information processing: (a) information processing is a purely logical process; (b) information processing involves some intrinsic causal inputs; and (c) information processing involves some extrinsic causal inputs as well. The third assumption is important because it indicates where some of the confusion and disputes lie and also indicates how to manage information better.

Information theory is a logical concept, it is not physical. It could not have been otherwise, because it relies on language, the senses, the understanding, the memorization, and the knowledge base to form its arguments and concepts. So one might think that information processing is a natural process, apart from the use of tools and technology. But information processing cannot take place without the help of one or more of the following factors: the conceptual network; the sensory experiences; the dispositions to accept or reject a given piece of information; and the beliefs, prejudices and goals of the conscious mind.

One could view the above as an incomplete picture of information technology and its relation to the physical world. For instance, the existence of external sources for information could not be discounted. Nor could the existence of two distinct but parallel informational channels be ignored. Nor could the concepts of order and chaos be considered to be independent from one another. It is possible that the above represent different ways of looking at the same concept. And this means that it is possible to criticize information technology as being incomplete in itself, as having failed to capture the essence of information and as lacking an explanatory strategy.

A more parsimonious view of the matter would be to acknowledge both the existence and the necessity of these three concepts. This brings us to another aspect of philosophy: the relationship between philosophy and information technology. Philosophy tries to capture the meaning and purposes of all concepts. It attempts to derive from these concepts any meaningful practical application. This task is far too vast for a single article, and we will have to turn to other resources if we are to deal with this important aspect of philosophy.

One example of a problematic aspect of philosophy is the idea that philosophy has failed to capture or to adequately explain the necessary relationship between words and meanings. The reality is that while there may be no unified principle that can adequately capture all the meaning and concepts associated with the use of words, pragmatics offers a solution to this problem. pragmatics is the study of how people use language to make sense of the world. So, while there may be some unifying principle underlying the use of words, such as some linguistic conventions, pragmatics provides a means by which to discover and reveal the meaning of these conventions and their relevance to practical activity. Much information technology also derives its meaning from some particular principles of pragmatics.