History of Information with Professor Paul Duguid

Over centuries “information has shaped and been shaped by human society”, writes professor Paul Duguid at the start of the book “Information: A Historical Companion”. Duguid is one of the editors of this book that reconstructs the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. The book is organised in thirteen long-form chapters and more than hundred short-form entries in a list of thematic objects, tools and concepts that are critical for our understanding of information. Each long-form chapter discusses the role of information at an important point in time in the history, at a particular geographical setting. Written by an international team of experts, “Information: A Historical Companion” is a wide-ranging, deeply immersive and a large publication. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with Paul Duguid, a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the editors of this book.

We start our discussion by exploring the concept of “information age” and addressing the question: has every age been an information age or is this title unique to this present time. We then discuss the significance of viewing history through the lens of information and viewing information through the lens of history. We also discuss our over reliance on information in the present time and the impact of increased volume and velocity of misinformation and disinformation on society. Professor Paul Duguid then discusses few entries in the list of thematic objects, concepts and tools. This has been a fascinating discussion, particularly for those who are keen to study our obsession with an informed existence.

Complement this podcast with the fascinating discussion with Professor Luciano Floridi on the Philosophy of Information and then listen to Professor Jürgen Renn on the Evolution of Knowledge and Rethinking Science for The Anthropocene.

By |April 19th, 2021|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts|

“A Passion for Ignorance” and for Denials and Negations with Professor Renata Salecl

Ignorance, denials and negations have always been part of human experience. In this post-truth, post-industrial world, we often feel overwhelmed by the information and misinformation overload. Although we claim to live in an information age, consciously or unconsciously, actively or passively more and more we are choosing to ignore, deny and negate facts and valid opinions. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with philosopher and sociologist Professor Renata Salecl and we this discuss this “passion for ignorance”. In her recent book “A Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why” Renata Salecl explores how the passion for ignorance plays out in many different aspects of life today.

Renata Salecl is professor at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London and senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

I open our discussion by asking Professor Salecl to unpack and explain various faces of ignorance that she outlines at the start of the book. We discuss the transformation of the knowledge economy to ignorance economy as she reports in the book. This book is organised very well; most chapters in the book start by outlining some kind of ignorance, this could be an active or passive ignorance, conscious or unconscious ignorance, and then Salecl discusses underlying reasons and possible impact of these denials and negations. In this discussion we touch upon a variety of denials and negations and forms of ignorance. We start with an important form of negation which is “choosing to ignore scientific evidence”. We also discuss the emergence of new forms of denials and ignorance in this age of Big Data. Drawing on philosophy, social and psychoanalytic theory, popular culture, and her own experience, Salecl explains that ignorance is a complex phenomenon that can, on occasion, benefit individuals and society as a whole.

Complement this discussion with Professor Justin Smith’s “Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason”
And then listen to Professor Luciano Floridi’s thoughts on “Philosophy of Information” and “Ethics of Information”

By |October 26th, 2020|Information, Philosophy, Podcasts|

“Philosophy of Information” and “Ethics of Information” with Professor Luciano Floridi

Information is a crucial concept. Its significance is evident by the fact that the present era is labelled as the information age. An intriguing question is: What is information? Although information is always around us, in the realm of digital artefacts and connectivity as well as in biological entities and processes, it is still an elusive concept. This is perhaps the hardest and most central problem that is the focus of a new area of research known as philosophy of information. This episode of Bridging the Gaps focuses on philosophy of information, and touches upon a number of relevant concepts. I speak with professor Luciano Floridi who explains what is philosophy of information, why it matters, and systematically unpacks and thoroughly explains a number of fascinating and relevant concepts for our listeners.

Professor Luciano Floridi is a Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford. He is also the Director of the Digital Ethics Lab of the Oxford Internet Institute. He is Faculty Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and Chair of its Data Ethics Group. He is an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Economics, American University, Washington D.C. His research interests include the philosophy of Information, information and computer ethics, and the philosophy of technology. His other research interests include Epistemology, Philosophy of Logic, and the History and Philosophy of Scepticism.

In a recent presentation professor Luciano Floridi describes philosophy of information as a “philosophy of our time”, and a “philosophy for our time”. I start our conversation by asking professor Floridi to unpack this definition for our listeners and explain this description of the philosophy of information. An interesting point that we discuss is how did ancient philosophers deal with the concept of information and do we find any philosophical discourse about information in ancient times? We then move onto concepts such as conceptual nature of information, data grounding problem and meaning and truth. We discuss in detail the concept of “Level of Abstraction”.

Professor Floridi discusses an interesting concept in his publications, that is the concept of “Informational Structural Realism” and he makes an important observation that a significant consequence of Informational Structural Realism is that the ultimate nature of reality is informational. This is an intriguing statement. Professor Floridi explains this statement and expands on what he means by “the ultimate nature of reality is informational”. We then move on and discuss in detail, immensely important concept of ethics of information. I then invite professor Floridi to share with our listeners details of the research projects that he has been working on recently.

Before closing our discussion we discuss three very interesting points: describing philosophy as a mechanism to design and engineer concepts; researching open questions; and tackling the view held by some that philosophy is dead. This has been a thoroughly informative, hugely educative and immensely interesting conversation.

Complement professor Florid’s views with intriguingly informative discussion with Dr Carl Frey “The Technology Trap” and the future of work.

By |July 5th, 2020|Information, Philosophy, Podcasts|