Is lossless information transfer possible?

by kirpi 1 min read8th Aug 201211 comments


I am trying to establish what (if anything) makes human beings superior to other organisms.

I have a hypothesis that, the only thing at which human beings are "superior" to other organisms is that we can transfer information without a loss to other human beings.

This difference may already be well established. I couldn't find a good read on this, so I wanted to ask your opinion.

Many organisms seem to have superior capabilities than human beings; strength, speed, agility, vision, hearing, regeneration etc. And even high IQ (at least on a hardware level on dolphins etc) may not be unique to humankind.

So, my first suspect, high IQ alone does not seem to be a differentiator of our species. (It does not even seem to be predictor of success within the species)

Then I remember the famous experiment of hosing down of gorillas trying to reach bananas. (To which I can't find the original citation) Shortly;

- Some gorillas are hosed with cold water when they try to reach bananas.

- Then they learn to stop trying to eat these bananas.

- The gorillas are replaced with other gorillas one by one.

- The old gorillas prevent new comers from reaching the banana even though they are not hosed anymore.

- When all of the gorillas are replaced, they still stop each other from reaching the banana.

It seems like the information is partially transferred. They can't transfer the cause. But human beings can transfer the cause. So, are human beings the only species that can transfer information without a loss?

The primary assumption I made is that, human beings can transfer infomation without loss. This turns out to be the major discussion topic. Is lossless information transfer is even possible? There seems to be opposition against this idea also.

For example, isn't this a lossless transfer to the reader;

"The sunlight seems yellow to human beings who are at this point on earth when earth is positioned like this with respect to sun"

By the way, by information, I don't mean the representation of it but the information itself. (i.e. Digitizing, wording or syntax for short does not matter)

If lossless transfer wasn't possible, it looks like we couldn't advance (at least) technology at all (like the gorilla example) Or there may be countermeasures to this loss too. (Like various people attacking one problem over and over again independently and finding a combined solution of the problem at an acceptable level)

To sum up, are the following true assertations?

- Information can be transferred within a species without loss.

- Human beings are the only species that can transfer information without loss.

- Capability to transfer information without loss is what makes human beings superior to other organisms.

p.s. For this is my first discussion post, please don't beat this too hard :)

p.p.s. Distinguished does not mean superior.