|2010-07-16, by John Ringland|
Quoted from my comments to a facebook
Some Information Theoretic Background
In terms of communication, the issue of coherence is related to
the transference of pattern/structure between information spaces.
E.g. the transference of an idea between minds or an email between
So coherence could be described as "the correlation between
the sent and received patterns". If we have correlation value of
1 then they are identical and perfect coherence was achieved (e.g.
perfect transference of understanding form one mind to another). If
the value is zero there is no discernible dependence between them and
they are unrelated. If the value is -1 then they are anti-correlated
and have an inverse relation (e.g. 0 --> 1 & 1 ---> 0 ).
Computers operate at near perfect coherence, however human
discourses are much less coherent and often anti-correlated
(anti-coherent?). In human relations an anti-coherence corresponds to
what was called a schizmogenesis by R.D. Laing. E.g. the Israel /
Palestine issue and its spiral of recriminations and deepening
we are dealing with networks, in fact hollarchies, which are
hierarchical networks of networks of networks of... That domain of
study is often called "Communication Complexity" and it is
really quite complex.
So rather than jump in at the deep end of hollarchic communication
coherence lets wade in gently... The basic elements of a network is a
single p2p (point to point) communication channel. These can be
connected up to form any network.
Hence historically this is where the analysis began. Most notably
with the formulation of Shannon Information. It is a measure of the
information content of a transmission. I.e. exactly how much is one
'informed' by the receipt of a signal? There are other measures as
well that are relevant, such as Kolmogorov Information which is a
measure of the minimum required information necessary to represent a
construct / structure / pattern. E.g. how much can you compress a
file before it reaches its Kologorov limit where it is impossible to
compress any further without destroying information that cannot be
recreated from the remaining information.
Note: in information system science
a 'system' can be defined
as a structured pattern of information that structures the flow of
information. Also, information can be defined as "discernible
difference". If you can't discern it, then it can't inform you.
This definition inherently implies the existence of a discernment
process (awareness, computation) that is the structured flow and
transformation of information.
The interplay of these interdependant and mutually co-arising
phenomena results in experiences of internal observables associated
with externally incident information, thus allowing for the
transference of pattern from one information medium to another, e.g.
light being transduced to neural signals by retinal cells, sound
being transduced to mp3 format.
From that little detour we see that systems are not in any sense
'material'. In a sense they are "made of"
information/state, computation/awareness, communication/interaction.
Hence the coherence of communication can determine whether a
system even exists or not; whether it can self-organise and
boot-strap itself into ongoing existence, and whether it can support
its existence into the next moment or whether it will succumb to
entropy and disorder, thereby entering into a cycle of decay and
re-assimilation into the surrounding systemic network (i.e. death).
Note: information, entropy and noise are closely related.
Information is difference (e.g. radio frequency modulation) that can
be discerned by a system (e.g. a little transistor radio cannot
pickup up ultra long wavelength radio signals). All other incident
information becomes entropy from the perspective of that system.
Entropy is simply information that cannot be meaningfully interpreted
and assimilated into the system, in the mind it might feel like
'confusion', 'information overload', 'forgetfulness', etc. The
unrecognised or lost signals merge into a background of disturbance
that is noise.
The more information that can be assimilated and channeled
effectively the less entropy and noise (note: heat is a type of
kinetic noise). E.g if an engine converts fuel into vehicle motion
efficiently then a minimum amount of information / energy will go
into vibration, sound, heat, etc, and most will be converted into the
kinetic motion of the vehicle along the road.
The flow of information through interaction channels is what
implements the dynamics of all complex systems...
A little about the two information measures, Shannon and
Kolmogorov, as well as p2p channels
The two information measures together can be used to study the
information dynamics within a system. Both the information content of
structures and the information content of streams. It is the
interplay between pattern and flow that underlies information system
Communication efficiency is improved by increasing the Shannon
information and reducing the Kolmogorov complexity of the signal
carriers. E.g. sending highly compressed and highly informative
digital files via an optical fibre network has high communication
efficiency. Whereas, at the other end of the spectrum, imagine using
bitmap images of large font text, that contained a lot of useless
waffle, sent via a morse code telegraph system that used 10 pound
cannon balls as the signal carriers and numerous relay stations along
the way due to the short range of the cannons. This would still
transfer exactly the same information using the same information
theoretic stages and principles, yet the efficiency is low because
the the Shannon information of the stream is low and the Kolomogorov
complexity of the carriers is high. This is why miniaturisation in
computer semi-conductor technology gives such vast speed and capacity
improvements - especially over traditional "desk and paper"
Now consider a single p2p channel with a single communication
This process advances in several stages, firstly the
encoding of some pattern/construct into some symbolic language
creating an expression that is transmited through a communication
channel. Note: each stage may contain many sub-channels and
On the receiving end the symbols are decoded according to some
language (not necessarily the same as that which was used to do the
encoding) which results in a cascade of internal associative activity
resulting in the experience of a meaning associated with the
If the sent and received patterns are correlated then there is
coherence. If you can come to know exactly the same knowing that I am
trying to convey, then we have perfect coherence. However in general
information is added e.g. noise or distortion, a mismatch of
encoding/decoding schemes leads to distortion of the signal and can
potentially render it uncorrelated or anti-correlated. Information is
also lost e.g. entropy.
This occurs at each stage of the communication process,
particularly if a complex construct is encoded using a simple
language. The language must have, the "requisite variety"
to encode the complexity. E.g. you cannot store the whole internet on
a single CD, it lacks the requisite variety. You cannot define
quantum physics using the language of a four year old, it lacks
requisite variety. You cannot explain a new paradigm idea in a
I am not just talking about languages such as English and Chinese,
they could be conceptual, computational, mathematical, economic, etc.
Any symbolic system!
For example, money is a symbol for value that allows us to
"communicate value", which facilitates our interactions.
Money itself is not the problem, the problem arises because of
control of the value and the flow of money, and for what purpose.
Money is a medium of exchange that facilitates social interactions -
it is social interaction potential energy, which can make of break
organisational, national, and civilisational endeavours. Money is a
key 'metabolic' substance within the social dynamics that animates
organisations (collective organisms).
Societies, corporations etc can economically kill, digest and
assimilate other collective entities. Systemically speaking this is
equivalent to biological entities eating each other. This can also
occur culturally - e.g. through cultural imperialism and cultural
assimilation by replacing the signs, symbols and protocols of a
culture with those of another. However it is also through these
interactions that organisations merge and bifurcate, creating
monopolies or fields of competition in a dynamic equilibrium with
each other. This is part of the dynamics of their ecosystem.
Coherence, due to its impact on communication, interaction,
integration, meta-system transition and evolutionary refinement
processes, it is a macroscopic observable of the state of a complex
adaptive system. In a sense, it is a measure of its systemic health.
The nadis or subtle energy pathways that pervade biological organisms
are the lines of communication and interaction that animate the
being. When these become blocked, or corrupted, then an energetic
imbalance arises, from a deep level. It is a disturbance in the
discourse that maintains the memeplex that is the animating principle
of the system, hence systemic dis-ease can arise.
So developing and maintaining coherence is essential to the
emergence, health, persistence and effective functioning of systems.
Incoherence is a force of disorder and decay when out of balance.
However it has also been found that a zero noise operating condition
is sub-optimal for complex systems - so systems need a little chaos,
a little wiggle room and some rough edges in order to function
optimally otherwise they become rigid and inflexible in the face of
For example, excessive coherence in society can become an invasive
/ normalising / brainwashing force - to which the antidote is a
healthy dose of anarchist incoherence. This maintains the wiggle
room. But if the system is anything more than just 'spiced' with
incoherence, then the system quickly fragments into warring factions,
which start to tear each other apart in countless subtle ways.
Furthermore, coherence and incoherence must be in the right
balance throughout an ecosystem for it to maintain evolutionary
'flexibility'. This means inevitable catastrophic suffering, death
and decay for many individuals within any ecosystem. This is
necessary for the healthy functioning of the ecosystem.
However within each individual system, the tendency is to seek
coherence and avoid decay. In most of the above writing I am coming
from the perspective of an individual rather than an ecosystem.
Firstly, I was not dwelling on "computer systems" in the
sense of PC's. Information and computation are more fundamental than
energy, space and time, they underlie the dynamics of all systems of
all kinds. At least from the perspective of the information system
science that I am describing here.
Computation is not just the activity of computers, it is any
structured coherent flow and transformation of information. And
information is any discernible difference - it is pure pattern. What
we call 'energy' is the communication/interaction bandwidth between
systems. Thus all system interactions and all energetic phenomena
arise via computation of information.
Secondly, in the context in which I am speaking there are no
material entities at all. That which we call material objects are
actually objects of experience within the mind, which, due to naïve
realism are believed to be external material objects. This is also
the view of quantum mechanics and Perennial Wisdom. The alternate
view is naïve realism which claims that we experience reality "as
it is" so its appearance is its nature. Thus is dis-proven
beyond all doubt by quantum physics.
When we look out from our eyes we are looking into something that
is more like a virtual reality than a physical one. There is not a
shred of material substance anywhere in existence - it is all
information. See "The Scientific Case Against Materialism"
Also, there is a whole other dimension to this issue of coherence!
To understand this other aspect one really has to look at it from
the new paradigm - it just sounds unbelievable in terms of the old
one - but it is experimentally proven and there are even commercial
products available that use it.
I'll just talk about the evidence for it - I won't try to explain
What is coherence? In one sense it is that which is measured by a
REG machine. This is a quantum random event generator. Over thirty
years of exhaustive research at the PEAR labs at Princeton Uni, they
found that the presence of a coherent field of consciousness would
drive a REG machine away from randomness. A coherent mind creates an
ambient field, that subtly drives quantum events away from randomness
and toward order.
E.g. a single person focusing their attention on the machine and
willing it to change will cause it to change.
Or more interestingly, taking a REG to a group meditation, or a
rock concert, or a world cup final, or to different genres of
classical music concerts, and so on. The REG measures the coherence
of the ambient field of consciousness.
You when at the theatre or symphony or whatever there are those
moments when the energies rise and you feel shivers down your spine -
in those moments there is strong coherence detected by the REG.
This is when the separate ambient fields of individual
consciousness have aligned with common focus and are resonating
together coherently. This exponentially amplifies the telekinetic
impact of the group field and if focus with intent it can produce
measurable influences upon physical systems.
The research proved that the likelihood that this effect was due
to chance was less than one in a trillion (10^-12), which is more
exhaustively proven than many accepted facts of science.
There is also the GCP (Global Consciousness Project) which
involves a global network of REG's connected up and monitoring the
coherence of the global field of consciousness. They take note of
interesting features and then try to correlate those with mass social
phenomena. They keep a public archive of the analyses on their site.
BTW here's some comments and links about PEAR / REG / GCP etc
An interesting graph linked to via that link shows the coherence
data during the days surrounding the 911 event. There were notable
features before, during and after the event. It was not just about a
bunch of guys in some planes - that was just the visible 'tip' of a
global movement in consciousness.
So coherence goes much deeper than just information theory, which
is the low-level details, but things like REG machines measure it at
the level of macroscopic ambient fields of collective consciousness.
It would be fun to play around with one :)
Going Even Deeper...
Another related aspect of 'coherence' is alluded to in this
comment I made in regards to the book "Science and the Akashic
Field" by Ervin Laszlo (http://bit.ly/aqMcoB)
"The overall idea behind the concept of an Akashic Field is
that behind the materialistic and mechanistic world there is in fact
another realm of interaction. This book presents compelling evidence
for this from the fields of cosmology, quantum physics, biology and
studies of consciousness. It is like a subtle communication network
that underlies physical reality and that connects every point in
space with every other point, and every thing with every other thing.
This communication network operates in the realm of pure information
that underlies empirical existence and thus does not rely on the
transport of physical energy, hence, through this field, interactions
can occur instantaneously regardless of physical separation and
without any channel for the mechanistic transport of energy.
Furthermore, like things tend to interact more strongly with like
things, thus humans interact more strongly with humans, galaxies with
galaxies and so on. The principle empirical and observable effect of
this field is coherence between phenomena across any distances."
There are some great quotes from the book about coherence if you
follow the link above (http://bit.ly/aqMcoB)...
I'd also recommend the books:
"The Field" by Lynne McTaggart http://bit.ly/dlFh6X
"Piercing Time and Space: Where Science and Spirit Meet"
by Traci L. Slatton http://bit.ly/b17qvo