Information and representation in autonomous agents

Cognitive Systems Research 1 (2):65-75 (2000)
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Abstract

Information and representation are thought to be intimately related. Representation, in fact, is commonly considered to be a special kind of information. It must be a _special_ kind, because otherwise all of the myriad instances of informational relationships in the universe would be representational -- some restrictions must be placed on informational relationships in order to refine the vast set into those that are truly representational. I will argue that information in this general sense is important to genuine agents, but that it is a blind alley with regard to the attempt to understand representation. On the other hand, I will also argue that a different, quite non-standard, form of information is central to genuine representation. First I turn to some of the reasons why information as usually considered is the wrong category for understanding representation; second to an alternative model of representation -- one that is naturally emergent in autonomous agents, and that does involve information, but not in any standard form; and third I return to standard notions of informational relationships and show what they are in fact useful for

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