Definitions of information are often circular in nature. I present a new definition, rooted in the second law of thermodynamics, based on the requirements of replication and selection. The definition is remarkably simple, yet general enough to apply to both living and non-living systems. Crucially, it provides a scenario for the origin of information while predicting an increase of information with time. The underlying requirements for the continued existence and inevitable growth of information also imply that cancer is an inherent outcome of information’s existence. Much of this work was carried out in collaboration with Stirling Colgate.