Re: [OPE] intermission: value of knowledge

From: Paula <>
Date: Mon Dec 07 2009 - 18:38:32 EST

Dave wrote:

"Apart from the sub-field of lossy source coding, modern information theory does not consider the utility of the information because that is agent-dependent. But this approach has enabled and sustained the development of communication and information technologies since the 1950s. Name any industrial product and you can find how information theory has improved it in some way."

I don't doubt that information theory has made a contribution. But I hope you'll agree that it hasn't produced those industrial products all by itself. Human agents - aka workers, consumers, etc - have also played a part. It seems to me that a complete theory of information, if such a thing is possible, would have to incorporate all the moments in the cycle, perhaps starting with information in nature, the evolution of the mind, etc; then looking at how human beings extract and/or produce information, sometimes in the form of material products, sometimes in other forms; then at how that information is decoded or consumed, used in further processes, etc. The theory that you refer to considers only one aspect or (or moment) of this process; but the agent-dependent aspects should be included if we are to have a full - and humanistic - theory.

In any case, once we had such a theory, would we be any closer to knowing whether 'knowledge labor' produces value? We already have a theory of value, which rests on a distinction between concrete and abstract labor. This seems to me the place to start.


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Received on Mon Dec 7 18:40:14 2009

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