Meeting Description: Claude Shannon’s landmark 1948 paper, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, took the radical step of defining information in a manner that completely eliminated meaning from the definition. The study of meaning as a conceptual and empirical phenomenon has consequently focused largely on human minds and human language, cases in which the existence and importance of meaning are uncontroversial. This Working Group will explore, elaborate, and critically analyze attempts to “undo the divorce” between Shannon information and semantic information. A recent analysis by biologist David Haig will provide both a focus and a lens through which to evaluate other attempts to reinsert semantics back into information. The double entendre of the title “The Meaning of Information” (the meaning of the concept of information versus whether information implies, includes, or requires meaning) is intended to highlight some of the key questions to be addressed.
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