An Overview

Eisenhower representing U2 crisis

I would like to mention about an international issue in the view of three distinctive theories covered in last week. The U2 crisis, which today’s one of great bands took its name from, was a spy-plane incident which caused a tension between the USSR and the US during the Cold War.

Let me tell the event at first in a nutshell: Under the approval of The US President Eisenhower, a spy-plane mission, which would fly over the Soviet airspace in order to take photos of bomber camps clandestinely started. In 1960, the plane was shot down and the pilot was taken into prison. The Soviet President Khrushchev announced the event to the world and required an apology, which caused the US a great embarrassment. But Eisenhower denied it was spying and this was carried out under CIA, without his authority and permission. However, the detained pilot admitted the mission, so Eisenhower had to apologize. The case was that the two presidents were at Paris summit for the talks of disarmament. This event just caused political tension between the two great powers of the time, making Cold War hardened again.

We have talked about information, systems and communication theories last week. Imagine only how the talks between the two presidents in the light of this event in a diplomatic environment take place at the summit. According to information theory, this event would be only a successive way of communication: Khrushchev utters his criticism about the issue by sending his message; Eisenhower, on the other hand, denies and utters a different claim; and their interaction goes back and forth not in a complex, complicated way but a successive conversation in a linear process.

In terms of systems theory, on the other hand, the talks can be assumed to be made up of different parts. For instance, the US President put himself in a dangerous position by denying and forcing his Russian counterpart in decision-making. The communication is surrounded by their relationships. This event was useful for political scientists in explaining some stakes of the Cold War.

According to communication theory, the whole interaction can be analyzed in a systematic way in which their communication takes place in a circular, ongoing trend. Opposed to information theory, here the overall relationship is more important than the elements in interaction.

Information is Power : A quote by Johnny Mnemonic

Information become a currency of today’s world. Those who control the information are considered as most powerful man in the planet. The notion of ‘information’ that explains as the processed data regarding to the phenomena or person or fact, is based on the communication devices developed in World War II.
Claude E. Shannon, mathematician and electrician, who had worked in Bell Laboratories, studied on the secret codes and cryptography. His works supported to develop the mathematical theory of information.

Shannon’s model is simply explained as following ; source of information produces the message; the encoder of transmitter transfers the message to signals; the channel is used to send the signals; the receiver gets and decodes them and finally receiver gets the information. Theory also provided measurement of transmitted information thru channels with the values of information defined as bits.

Information impacts can be seen not only in technology but in films, animation, literature, graphic novel shaped and transformed new ideas keeping  theory basis as same.

William Gibson, famous science fiction novelist, created cyberpunk stream, used information transmission idea by human in their novels. One of his short story about an information transmitter, called Johnny Mnemonic, filmed by Robert Longo in 1995.
According to the plot, “Johnny Mnemonic” is a data transmitter who has undergone cybernetic surgery to have a data storage system implanted in his head. The system allows him to store digital data too sensitive to risk transmission on computer networks. To keep the cargo secure, the data is locked by a password known only to the intended recipient. Johnny enters a trance-like state while the data is being transferred or the passwords are being exchanged, making him unaware of the contents and unable to retrieve it. He makes a modest living by physically transporting sensitive information for corporations, underworld crime rings or wealthy individuals in the era of ‘Information is Power.’

In simplified manner, Johnny is a kind of walking transmitter for the receivers who pay money for a the valuable information.
In some extend, science fiction novelist is a kind of fortune teller by reading the signals of changing world. Going thru their steps, and remembering the  broad applications of ‘information theory’ in many field, it would not be a surprise to meet human transmitters or receivers around us in near future.

Reference for  the plot : Imdb film site (video trailer)