B:CP Reactions - Cut 2

Tom Bourbon [940805.1719]

[Paul George 940804 1600]

{Directed mostly to Bill Powers, but comments welcome from anywhere}

How can I refuse an invitation like that? Time is short today, so I will
only reply briefly to one or two points.

Having finished B:CP, I think it is a good piece of work. Too bad so much of it
seems to be ignored in most of the research and the discussions here, which
seem focused on the 'worm's eye view' of PCT (1st & 2nd order control). Perhaps
because the other concepts are deemed 'uninteresting'? :slight_smile:

Paul, it is nice to see that you are reading something about PCT. That is a
significant step from the time when you appeared on this net, all filled with
thunder and lightning, but with no history of having read any of the
material. :slight_smile:

Like Rick Marken (940508.0945), I think you understate the case. I would
place Powers's B:CP, and his theory of behavior in the same league as
Newton's "Principia," or, as I said in the "foreword" to the second volume
of Bill's _Living Control Systems_, I think of B:CP in the same class as
Aristotle's ideas about "final cause" and William James's ideas about
purpose and intention -- only Bill's work is better -- he turned *ideas*
about intention into a *science* of intention. But, then, I am a biased
lover of only the lowest levels of behavior and perception. :wink:

. . .

A large part of my initial impressions of weakness or oversimplicity in HPCT
was because you (particularly Rick & Tom) appeared to be saying more elaborate
stuctures were unneeded.

Ah, but that was the impression you formed back when you had read nothing,
but burst on the scene telling us were using a model that was (or that might
be) overly simple. Didn't you want us to reply to you on that topic?
Should we have ignored you, or assented without protest to your claims?

I recognize that most PCT research is focused on
levels 1-3 of the perceptual control hierarchy, partially due to amenability to
modeling, but creates the impression that it is all HPCT consists of.

Sorry, but have we read the same book? And which net are you reading from?
What you say about the levels we focus on is a pretty serious distortion of
the truth. You have repeated that assertion many times, even though it is
patently false. Why do you do that? I don't understand. Can you clue me
in? Remember, though, I probably won't understand your answer if it is more
complex than a second- or third-level explanation. ;-))

The
simple perceptual control loop does not explain all of what is commonly called
behavior, much less psychology.

I'm glad you agree with us on that!

The reorganization control hierarchy,
memory,and the perceptual & memory switches are necessary constructs to deal
with common concepts of planning, imagination, etc.

The PCT and HPCT models aren't intended to "deal with concepts." They are
intended to explain the phenomenon of control.

Further the levels of the
PC hierarchy above 3 are rarely explained, other than by occaisional asides -
e.g. "The lower six levels are concerned with control of intensities,
sensations, configurations, transitions, events, and relationships. "
[Bill Powers (940803.1510 MDT)]

Hmm. That' interesting. Are we reading different nets, again? Even the
simplest tracking task reaches the sixth level, at a minimum. And I have
shown how easily a tracking task can be modeled as requiring a program level
-- that's about the eighth level in a ten or eleven level hiererchy. Are we
talking about the same model, Paul?

It is not intuitively obvious that these constructs derive from the simple
concept of control. The terms are also subject to variable interpretation.

Yes. That's why we keep telling you the theory and model are not about the
words. The only only way we know for a person to "get it" at the gut level
-- to get it "in your bones" -- is to play with the model. Have you run any
of the demonstrations?

As the [From Bill Powers (940803.1510 MDT)] exchange with comp.ai indicates,
your critics and the uninitiated dismiss you because you do not publicize the
'non-core' ideas, except through casual asides (in my experience), and so they
presume such concepts are not incorporated in PCT.

"In my experience." That is an important qualifier, Paul; your experience
to now is very limited -- not a criticism, but a restatement of what you
have told us. Keep reading -- and run some demonstrations. :-))

While you read, please remember that until *very* recently, only three
people were working (most often on their own time and at home) to seriously
test the PCT model in research and simulations. Only three, and I was one.
*No wonder* we have accomplished so little of what needs to be done!

Later,

Tom

<[Bill Leach 940805.23:50 EST(EDT)]

[Paul George 940804 1600]

Paul, since no one else seemed to mention this...

An additional reason for what you see (or don't as the case may be) is
that PCT is THEORY and HPCT is HYPOTHESIS.

In a very real sense, there is no arguement about the "correct" theory
for behaviour because there IS only one THEORY and that is PCT.

For a physicist use a lable of hypothesis for most of the proposals in
the rest of behavioural sciences is a serious affront to the term (indeed
even the word "science" is "insulted" in such application).

Thus, the theory of PCT has support of experimental evidence and is in
the unique position (for this field) of no been challenged by any
experimental evidence.

HPCT OTOH, has a "great deal" going for it but does not have the same
sort of experimental evidence. It is a hypothesis in the same sense as
such would be found in other "hard" sciences. Careful consideration of
the experimental data suggests that the hypothesis is sound but does not
suggest that this can be the only answer.

You must also remember that this crowd is rather "steeped" in the
traditions of "pure sciences" and is not particularly "big" on trying to
do an "end run" on the "communitee". Little doubt (in my mind) that a
major reason for this reluctance is the "massive" abuse of scientific
principles that are seen daily in the popular media.

It is already "bad enough" as far as what can happen to a scientific
treatise in "peer review" without foregoing that step and just "handing"
it to the media. A media whose commitment truth an objectivity might be
considered to be less than always honorable <cough, gag> (watering down
that last sentence was tough for me to do).

Having said that however, I think that Rick emphasized what is the most
significant reason; Until one begins to grasp the significance of what
closed loop control means at the simplest level and begins to realize
that just the phonomenon of control itself teachs that much of what is
viewed as "complex behaviour" is rather no more than the physical
consequences of the action of a control system.

A difficulty that I see is that decomposition of higher level references
could conceivable proceed in many different ways. People could (and do)
argue about how these different structure details may vary. However, the
evidence for the phenomenon of control is overwhelming and models that
can be constructed of only a few loops (or even one) provide remarkable
fidelity.

There is not the slightest doubt in anyone's mind that the number of
control loops in each of the models is vastly smaller in number than in
any of the human subjects. However, the issue is that the models are
control systems and work with such high fidelity that the models can
reasonably be used for predictive functions.

I guess what I am trying to say is that PCT is much like electronics
itself. We do not need to explain exactly how a specific electron works
its way through semi-conductor lattice to understand the operation of a
transistor nor is such knowledge required to build a computer.

However, the ability to build such a computer is greatly improved when
the phenomenon of amplification (in the transistor) is understood.

Thus in PCT, we don't even know how many "wires" there are much less
how they all route. We don't know if there are a bunch of "math
co-processors" "up there" or not. We don't know what sort of "special
function processors" might exist if any. What is rather well established
though, is that once a controlled variable is identified, it is possible
to demonstrate reliably that living beings control perception.

It is the phenomenon of control that is the "sore spot" not the details.

-bill

[Paul George 940804 1600]

{Directed mostly to Bill Powers, but comments welcome from anywhere}

Having finished B:CP, I think it is a good piece of work. Too bad so much of it
seems to be ignored in most of the research and the discussions here, which
seem focused on the 'worm's eye view' of PCT (1st & 2nd order control). Perhaps
because the other concepts are deemed 'uninteresting'? :slight_smile:

I do have a few questions & observations:

In terms of the reorganization system, why must the reference variables be
_intrinsic_ and physiological? (I equate 'intrinsic' with hardwired or inborn)
Some clearly would be, for example detecting life threatening situations or
physiological conditions (Thirst, hunger, various levels of stress or pain,
danger, 'instincts'). However, I don't see anything which would preclude
having learned or otherwise generated reference levels as well. Recognizing the
need to adapt would seem to be a charateristic of higher levels of
intelligence. A general 'error level' or 'discontent' intrinsic would help to
'awaken' the reorganization function, but seems to me unsatisfying for
directing it. Non innate values would also help explain how some people seem to
change their behavior in self destructive ways. Their hierarchy of reorg
reference variables have placed some artificial(??) goal at a higher priority
than the natural or intrinsic ones. In other cases they may be trying to
reconcile two incompatible goals. (I'm not sure that goal is the appropriate
term, but is the one I'm most familiar with).

Note: I have not explicitly seen the concept of priorities between reference
variables, perceptions, or control loops, except through the hierarchy and the
actual constructs in the 'little man'. Levels of the hierarchy would appear to
be more than one loop deep. I am not at all sure that such a concept is truely
required, but at some level some disturbances are more important than others.

Re the close of chapter 14 on Platt's work. What experimental work has been
done in the last 20 years on reorganization? Personally the application of
control theory to adaptation, learning, and communication was what sucked me
into this group, combined with it's effects on interpersonal relationships. The
book has a number of references to work that needed to be done, but it is
unclear to me as to what actually has happened.

I personally think you do your 'cause' a bit of harm by splitting off the
reorganization hierarchy from the central control hierarchy, and then ignoring
it in most of your posts and articles. I would publish figure 14.1 a little
more widely. Similarly, just pushing the simple canonical control diagram as
the definitive model instead of the figure 15.3 'final form' is misleading and
I think hurts acceptance of your ideas. You don't highlight that the canonical
model is a simplification of the 'true' form which you use because it is
sufficient for your experimental purposes.

A large part of my initial impressions of weakness or oversimplicity in HPCT
was because you (particularly Rick & Tom) appeared to be saying more elaborate
stuctures were unneeded. I recognize that most PCT research is focused on
levels 1-3 of the perceptual control hierarchy, partially due to amenability to
modeling, but creates the impression that it is all HPCT consists of. The
simple perceptual control loop does not explain all of what is commonly called
behavior, much less psychology. The reorganization control hierarchy,
memory,and the perceptual & memory switches are necessary constructs to deal
with common concepts of planning, imagination, etc. Further the levels of the
PC hierarchy above 3 are rarely explained, other than by occaisional asides -
e.g. "The lower six levels are concerned with control of intensities,
sensations, configurations, transitions, events, and relationships. "
[Bill Powers (940803.1510 MDT)]
It is not intuitively obvious that these constructs derive from the simple
concept of control. The terms are also subject to variable interpretation.

As the [From Bill Powers (940803.1510 MDT)] exchange with comp.ai indicates,
your critics and the uninitiated dismiss you because you do not publicize the
'non-core' ideas, except through casual asides (in my experience), and so they
presume such concepts are not incorporated in PCT.

Please accept a suggestion from a newbee who recently went through trying to
get up to speed with PCT, even given a fairly strong understanding of control.
Given the paucity of 'public domain' sources, I would recommend writing a
little whitepaper and incorporating it in the monthey post (as well as
archiving it (you could really use a FAQ). Few people are willing to shell out
a significant amount of money or expend a lot of effort to investigate an
apparently fringe or 'crackpot' (ITHO) theory.

I would summarize the levels of control discussed in chapters 7-13 from a
role/responsibility standpoint at about a paragraph apiece. The introductory
pages and chapter summaries could provide most of the meat. Introduce the reorg
hierarchy as well, possibly with an elaboration of figure 14.1 (I think this
hides the concept of their being two 'planes' of control hierarchies:
x/z=PC,y/z=RC). This heads off objections concerning higher level behavior
(from the standpoint of internal perceptions) and learning.

Next provide a paragraph for each of the neural gate constructs for the
underpinnings of the feedback control mechanism and logic functions used
elsewhere. Use the spinal reflex model (say figs 7.3 or 7.4) to discuss the
basic control phenomena.(this is the part that is well covered by the current
intro material, but it's derivation from physiological constructs is not
highlighted). I would deem this a key point for acceptance. Use 'the parable of
th rubber band' experiment (16.3), particularly the coin extension
(Brilliant!!), to further illustrate the power of the concept.

Next briefly explain the final form diagram (15.3) with the memory and the 4
'control modes' (I think this was my favorite part of the book. What a neat
model!).

The organization could perhaps use work, but I think it can be done clearly in
less than 10 pages{Shorter than many of your posts ;-)} Also, consider putting
your response to Bruce Buchanan (or perhaps both posts) into the intro
materials. I wish I had read it much earlier as it would have avoided much
misinterpretation as to what PCT encompassed. I am happy to see that PCT does
in fact cover the areas I had anticipated it should.

Continuing to enjoy the discussion,
Paul