Communicative PCT (was Quantum Thoughts)

From Ely Dorsey 2005.05.17.01:52AM ES

My thoughts on quantum epistemology are forthcoming. I will
use “Quantum Thoughts Revisited” as the Subject line to not confuse
the thread with Communicative PCT.


From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[] On Behalf
Bill Powers
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2005 10:38
Subject: Re: Communmicative PCT
(was Quantum Thoughts)

[From Bill Powers (2005.05.16.2008 MDT)]

Martin Taylor (2005.05.16) –

I hope that this will make sense if you try to follow a message from
the leftmost node (labelled OS) through the various possibilities to the
“End” node. (The arc labelled “E-feedback” refers to the
originator’s initial perceptions of the recipient’s state; E ==
“expectation” or something like that). The “Normal
Feedback” arc includes a “Null” possibility, for the case in
which both originator and recipient are satisfied that the message will be
correctly understood, which is usually the case at the lowest levels, such as
the level of the word, and is often the case at higher levels among lonmg-time

Your diagram needs more explanation than you gave it. Or perhaps I should admit
that I’m not as good at deciphering flow charts as I used to be.

In my new book, Chapter 5 (which is as far as it’s gone so far) opens expecting
a “live block diagram” of a control system to be running on the
user’s computer, the canonical PCT diagram running at 60 frames per second but
appearing to do nothing at first. After the diagram is shown in the text, this


If you’re not used to circuit diagrams or block diagrams of circuits you
may not realize what this is. It is not a diagram of things happening and
leading to other things happening, as many diagrams of this sort are. It is
not, in other words, a flow chart. A flow chart is a way of pictorially
representing a sequence of operations, as in following a recipe to bake a cake.
One box in the flow chart might say “Mix liquid ingredients in a
medium-sized bowl,” with an arrow leading to the next box which says,
“Blend mixture into dry ingredients.” Asking what the process
in the first box is doing after you have gone on to the next box would be a
nonsense question, meaningless. The labels describe behaviors, not mechanisms
that produce those behaviors. They are instructions, descriptions of what to
do, and aren’t doing anything themselves. It’s your attention that moves from
one box to the next. For those who know the reference, the TOTE unit proposed
long ago by Miller, Galanter, and Pribram and still appearing in the literature
is a flow chart: Test --> Operate --> Test --> Exit describes actions
that a system is doing one at a time, so while “Operate” is going on,
it makes no sense to ask what the blocks labeled “Test” and
“Exit” are doing.

Fig. 5-1, on the other hand, is a system diagram, a block diagram of a working
system. Each box in this diagram represent a specific ongoing process carried
out by a physical structure or mechanism that continuously converts a changing
input into a changing output. The behavior of the boxes depends on what the
variables at their inputs do. You can therefore ask what one box is doing while
another is doing something else, just as you can ask what the engine of a car
is doing while gas is flowing from the gas tank to the engine and the
speedometer is indicating speed. Such things do not take turns happening; they
are all happening at the same time.


It seems to me that
your “GPC” is an attempt to combine a flow chart with a system
diagram, and that the result is confusing. for that reason. I suppose the
sequential nature of speech has something to do with it – speech happens like
a program unfolding and people usually have to take turns, so only one thing,
apparently, is happening at a time, as in a flow chart.

But maybe that’s not right. I have a goal for perceiving that you understand
me, and that goal is in effect whether I am speaking or you are speaking. We
could be anywhere in the GPC flow chart and that reference condition would
exist in me, as would a perception of the degree to which I am succeeding, and
a degree of error, and an ongoing process of formulating output which is still
going on while you are speaking (modified, of course, by what I am hearing from

Have you considered the problem I’m talking about? The flow chart aspect of the
Layered Protocol idea makes it seem that there is an alternating series of
mutually-exclusive events going on, yet the PCT concept suggests that control
systems in both participants are in operation simultaneously, all during the
interchange. It seems to me that if you could get the flow-chart aspects
separated from the system diagram of the control systems, everything might get
neater. As it is, the flow chart seems to be mainly about a program that is
running – operations interspersed with choice points – and not so much about
the organization of the system within which the program runs. It certainly
makes no sense to ask, when the process is at a certain node in the GPC,
what is going on in the other nodes. That’s enough to tell us that we’re
looking at a description of sequential behaviors, not a diagram of the
structure of a working system. So what is the structure of the working system
behind the flow-chart of the GPC? Have you ever looked at it that way?


Bill P.

My thoughts on quantum epistemology are forthcoming. I will use
�Quantum Thoughts Revisited� as the Subject line to not confuse the
thread with Communicative PCT.
[From Bill Powers (2005.05.17.0742 MDT)]

Ely Dorsey 2005.05.17.01:52AM ES –

It would save bandwidth if you would delete the parts of a message that
don’t relate to your reply. In this post, there were these two lines
carrying your message

and around 100 lines of unrelated text from a post involving Martin
Taylor and me.


Bill P.