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The information conveyed is not an intrinsic property of the individual message
Communication ... necessarily demands a set of messages. Not only is this so, but the information carried by a particular message depends on the set it comes from. The information conveyed is not an intrinsic property of the individual message. That this is so can be seen by considering the following example. Two soldiers are taken prisoner by two enemy countries A and B, one by each; and their two wives later each receive the brief message "I am well". It is known, however, that country A allows the prisoner a choice from
while country B allows only the message
meaning "I am alive". (Also in the set is the possibility of "no message"). The two wives will certainly be aware that though each has received the same phrase, the informations that they have received are by no means identical. (p. 124) [c 1]
The child who tries to open a door has to manipulate the handle (the input) so as to produce the desired movement at the latch (the output); and he has to learn how to control the one by the other without being able to see the internal mechanism that links them. In our daily lives we are confronted at every turn with systems whose internal mechanisms are not fully open to inspection, and which must be treated by the methods appropriate to the Black Box.
- Literature/1980/Searle [^]
- Literature/1979/Beer [^]
- Beer, Stafford (1975). Platform for Change: A Message from Stafford Beer. New York: Wiley, 1975. [^] See also: w: Viable System Model
- 1975/March/J [^]
- Literature/1972/Beer [^] See also: 2nd ed.
- Cherry, Colin (1957). On Human Communication: A Review, a Survey, and a Criticism . The M.I.T. Press, 1966. [^]
- Ashby, Ross (1956). An Introduction to Cybernetics, a university paperback ed., London: Chapman & Hall, 1964. [^]
- McCarthy, John; Marvin Minsky; Nathan Rochester & Claude Shannon (1955). A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence. [^]
- Literature/1952/Ashby [^]
- Literature/1950/Turing [^]
- Shannon, Claude E. & Warren Weaver (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press. [^]
- Wiener, Norbert (1948). Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. 2nd ed., The MIT Press, 1965. [^]
- Bush, Vannevar (1945). "As We May Think." The Atlantic Monthly (July 1945): 101-108. [^]
- This is a case of the writer's meaning or intention, though not pure, having nothing to do with the reader's meaning or attention. Without being known about such choices, however, the reader's interpretation must be quite uncertain; she may even doubt the truthfulness of the message and the death of their husband. This case also adds up to why information as meaning is barely an intrinsic property of the message.