Wiley, R. H.   2013.   Communication as a transfer of information: measurement, mechanism, and meaning.   In U. Stegmann, editor.   Animal communication theory: information and influence.   Cambridge Univ. Press.   Pp. 113-129.


The basic components of communication are now widely recognized -- signaler, signal, and receiver. To confirm that communication has occurred, it is thus necessary to show that one individual has produced a signal -- a pattern of stimulation -- to which another individual has responded. Experimental investigation of this process began with the use of simple models by early ethologists such as Niko Tinbergen (1951). In recent decades presentations of audio and video recordings and even robotic models have resulted in extensive experimental analysis of communication by animals.

Yet Darwin's principal claim remains controversial. Is there continuity between mental processes of humans and those of other animals? Even if the differences prove to be qualitative, can we measure the magnitude of the differences? As Darwin recognized, one of the central issues in these controversies is communication. What do animals communicate? And how much do they communicate? These questions are often phrased

in terms of information. What information is communicated by animals? And how much?

This chapter addresses these questions in four steps. First, it reviews the concept of information in communication and thereby concludes that all communication must involve a transmission of information. Second, it considers, but rejects, the argument that information and manipulation are incompatible. Third, it argues that the transfer of information depends on mental processes of categorization and association. Fourth, it addresses the issue of information about mental states of other individuals and ourselves. It concludes with an element of necessary ignorance ...

To summarize, this discussion has led to three conclusions. (1) Communication consists of transmission of information from one individual to another. (2) If mind is behaviour, then all organisms communicate states of mind. (3) If it is not, then no communication transmits states of mind.