Highlights from Why Information Matters by Luciano Floridi

philosophy takes care of the roots, so that the rest of the plant might grow more healthily.

Since the Nineties, I have been arguing that we have reached one of those moments — a turning point in our history. The epochal transition from an analogue to a digital world and the rapid development of information technologies are changing every aspect of our lives: education, work, and entertainment; communication, business, and commerce; love, hate, and anything in between; politics, conflicts, and peace; culture, health, and even how we remember the dead. All this and more is being relentlessly transformed by technologies that have the recording, transmission, and processing of information as their core functions.

Furthermore, information technologies don’t just modify how we act in the world; they also profoundly affect how we understand the world, how we relate to it, how we see ourselves, how we interact with each other, and how our hopes for a better future are shaped. All these are old philosophical issues, of course, but we must now consider them anew, with the concept of information as a central concern.

We need a philosophy of information.

successful cooperation depends on an agreement between all parties that the information being exchanged is fixed at a specified level. Wrongly assuming that everyone will follow the rules that specify the level — for example, that impulse will be expressed not as pound-seconds (the English unit) but as newton-seconds (the metric unit) — can lead to costly mistakes. Even though this principle may seem obvious, it is one of the most valuable contributions that philosophy can offer to our understanding of information. This is because, as we will see, failing to specify a level at which we ask a given philosophical question can be the reason for deep confusions and useless answers.

Turing’s test is based on a weaker version of Leibniz’s law of the identity of indiscernibles: if, everything else being equal, significant differences between A’s and B’s answers are indiscernible, then A and B are interchangeable. Given the same input of questions, the output of answers a human and a computer can generate are such that the differences between the two are insufficient for the purposes of unmistakable recognition.

By specifying the level — human intelligence as measured by the imitation game — Turing was able to replace his original and vague question with a new and answerable one, which may be summed up thus: “May one conclude that a machine is thinking, at the level of abstraction represented by the imitation game?”

What philosophy can offer to contemporary debates that involve the concept of information, whether we discuss the intelligence of computers or the makeup of the universe, is clarity about how to ask the right questions so that answers are possible and useful. Failing to ask the right questions can only lead to confusions and misunderstandings.

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/why-information-matters

read original article at https://medium.com/surtido/highlights-from-why-information-matters-by-luciano-floridi-ddce188b01e0?source=rss——artificial_intelligence-5