Conflict and HPCT (was Re: therapy)

[From Bill Powers (990924.0801 MDT)]

Steve Adey (990924.1000)--

All these need to be explained by
the B:CP model, if the position of intrinsic references at the top
of the levels is to be credible. I am not sure whether the fact that
anorexia is hard to treat also ought to be predicted by any model.

The reorganizing system and its intrinsic reference levels are not at the
top of the hierarchy. They are not in the hierarchy at all. See the diagram
in B:CP on page 188.

Under the current model, reorganization involves the "E. coli" effect, in
which intrinsic error signals govern the rate of change of organization in
the hierarchy. If intrinsic error gets larger, reorganization happens again
right away; if it gets smaller, the next reorganization is postponed. These
changes are basically random, although we recognize that there is a problem
with getting them to apply in the right places in the hierarchy without
changing systems that are working well (if, indeed, that is what happens).
In cases such as anorexia, reorganization would be going on due to
starvation, but it is possible for the system to get into a "local minimum"
of error such that all reorganizations tend to work back toward the same
state of the system, since error gets larger for any direction of change.
Some drastic change in external conditions, or a very lucky string of
random reorganizations, would be needed to escape from such a trap.

The reorganizing system doesn't care about anything but the basic
"life-support" variables it monitors and tries to keep at their intrinsic
reference levels. It acts by reorganizing the hierarchy, but it doesn't
know or care how behavior changes as a result. All it cares about is
whether the changes in behavioral organization make total intrinsic error
smaller or larger. If a change makes them smaller, the reorganizing system
increases the interval between reorganizations; if it makes them smaller,
it decreases the interval. The reorganizing system has no intelligence; is
is not rational or logical. Reason and logic appear as a consequence of its
operations, so obviously it can't use reason and logic. The "E. coli"
strategy is actually very powerful, much more powerful than any genetic
algorithm relying on random mutations could be. This is because it has a
goal (zero total intrinsic error) and a means of adjusting the _rate_ of
random changes according to distance from the goal.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (990924.1108 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (990924.1058 EDT)--

The fact that people go to war and commit suicide suggests that survival
is not always the most important intrinsic variable.

I haven't assumed that survival is an intrinsic variable at all. The
intrinsic variables and their reference levels have come, through
evolution, to be those on which survival depends, but none of them says
"survive." The concept of survival is mainly verbal, a product of the
hierarchy, not something built-in. Thus there is no problem with people
acting in ways we would intellectually evaluate as counter-survival.

Best,

Bill P.

There seem to be

···

"social" perceptions that are at least as important. One can conjecture
what they might be, but it seems that their existence cannot be ignored.
I suspect that controlling in a way that maintains these intrinsic
variables near their reference levels may be part of the answer to the
question of how hunger strikers and anorexics are able to do what they
do. Of course, it is also possible that anorexics suffer from hardware
problems such that the gain associated with survival is lower than
normal. This seems to be one of the side effects associated with
depression.

It took me quite a while to realize that intrinsic references are not at
the top of the hierarchy in HPCT. The hierarchy exists to maintain these
variables at their reference level, but they are not part of the
hierarchy. The hierarchy is the result of learning done to maintain
intrinsic variables as error-free as possible.

Bruce Gregory

[From Bill Powers (990925.0621 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (990924.1333 EDT)--

Bill Powers (990924.1108 MDT)

I haven't assumed that survival is an intrinsic variable at all.

Bruce G.:

I would think there is a subset of the intrinsic variables that might be
labeled "survival" in the sense that if they are allowed to stray from
intrinsic reference levels and remain there, death will ensue.

That is what I think of all intrinsic variables monitored and controlled by
the reorganizing system. But the reorganizing system is not smart enough to
draw a connection between control of those variables and the survival of
the organism.
It has no intellectual capacities. But the reorganizing system has no
explicit goal of "surviving." How could it contain such an abstract concept?

Other
intrinsic variables, such as those associated with sex and reproduction,
presumably can remain far from their reference levels without fatal
consequences.

Not fatal to the individual, that is. Survival of the species depends on
controlling for sexual stimulations (although not for reproduction, since
controlling for sex will take care of matters nicely).

What we're after here is the _minimum_ capabilities of the reorganizing
system necessary to account for the growth of the hierarchy and survival of
the individual and the species. Speculations about higher "intrinsic" goals
are only that, guesses, and they almost always are confounded with
socially-transmitted customs and expectations (which are not inherited).

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (990928.1350 MDT)]
Steve Adey (990928.1017)--

As I understand it Bill postulates that they are at the top of the
hierarchy because their normal values are set in a timescale that
requires many generations to changes. Also for me, the absence of an
inherent top level presents difficulties in postulating what controls
the higest level that we can describe as non-intrinsic. It seems
strange to call 'social' perceptions as having intrinsic references
but that might be possible given the effects of socialization on
behaviour.

It's always possible that we will come to recognize a higher level than
system concepts (I presume that's what you're talking about), but at some
point we must find a level that is truly the top one, and then we have to
find different explanations for the source of its reference signals. There
are several possibilities. The simplest is to recognize that absence of a
reference signal is equivalent to a reference signal of zero. Zero
reference signal implies that the associated perceptual signal will be
maintained at zero. At these high levels, a zero state for a perceptual
signal can have very definite implications: for example, having a zero
reference signal for being with unfamiliar people translates directly into
xenophobia -- a common state in young people. In fact, a zero reference
signal can be just one arbitrary point in a continuum of perceptual states
-- a zero reference signal for the external angle at the elbow is
equivalent to holding the arm fully extended.

Other possibilities are that non-zero reference signals arise
experimentally, through reorganization. Another is that they are derived
from memory, representing the average state of a given perception over some
period of time. You "get used to" a system concept that you often
experience, and eventually it becomes the preferred state just because
you're familiar with it. And another is that they're genetically set, the
way a bower bird inherits a reference image for a nest.

Whatever the highest level of organization, the reference signals have to
come from _somewhere_ if they're not zero. If there's no higher level you
can't use that explanation. So what other possibilities are there?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (990930.1006 MDT)]

Kenny Kitzke (990929.1100EDT)--

You are limited this way by the constraints of your own mind. For you
propose that one level sets the reference signals for the lower level. An
interesting postulate to be sure, but simply not proven scientifically.

Aren't you limited by the constraints of your own mind?

I have already proposed a level of human perception higher than your Level
11, a systems category of perception. This possible Twelfth Level is one of
a self-concept where every human can look down upon him/herself and access
their perceptual reference beliefs and systems level perceptions and decide
it they are or are not what they want.

I have proposed something similar to that, although I can't prove it
exists. It's what I call the "Observer," the movable viewpoint from which
we can _consciously_ experience perceptions at various levels in the
hierarchy. The Observer is what looks for background thoughts in the Method
of Levels. Only as the Observer can you become aware of your own system
concepts. Whether the Observer can _alter_ system concepts, I don't know,
although something like that seems necessary to explain what happens during
the MOL. The connection of this act of Observing to changes in organization
suggests that there is some relationship with reorganization. Also, the
apparent fact that the observer is not connected exclusively to any
particular level in the hierarchy is another suggestion of a connection to
the process of reorganization, which can occur at any level.

Here is a possibility I favor. Human nature is composed of three levels of
experiencing the world: our body, our mind and our spirit. Reference levels
for our bodily senses are all set by the mind, which is higher. Reference
levels for the conscious thoughts of our mind, including our highest levels
of awareness, are all set by our human spirit. It could be like your
"reorganization system" in some ways, but is far easier to identify with our
daily lives and requires no "dumb" and "random" property to set these highest
reference levels than the rest of your proposed 11 Level hierarchy.

What happened to the last part of this proposal? What sets the reference
signals for the "spirit" systems?

I think our control systems works more like this. Our bodies and physical
actions are controlled by our minds. Our minds and our conscious thoughts,
memories, imaginations, etc., are controlled by our unique human spirit.

And our unique human spirit is controlled by .... ?

Someday, I hope to make models and do experiments which show that it is our
human spirit, unique among all living things, that make us tick and give
purpose to our being.

If you already know the answer, why do you have to make models and do
experiments? Is there any chance that they could show your answer is wrong?
If so, what could happen that would constitute contrary evidence?

I hope that when PCT can adequately recognize the importance of the Twelfth
Level and the spirit nature of man to our self expression and satisfaction
with daily life, and life's most challenging issues, that the world of
psychology and therapy will finally utter an enlightened Ahah and Alas!

That's all very well, but what will you do if your experiments fail to
support the idea of a twelfth level, or the particular twelfth level you
propose? Or are you even seriously considering that possibility?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (990920.0944 EDT)]

Steve Adey (990919.1103)

This gives me some reason to doubt that intrinsic references have such
a dominant position in the hierarchy as that proposed by Bill in B:CP.

You seem to be discounting the possibility that the desire to retain
some money functions to maintain an intrinsic variable near its
reference point. Survival is threatened by freezing, but also by
starving.

Bruce Gregory

[Bruce Gregory (990924.1058 EDT)]

Steve Adey (990924.1000)

However, since posting my original message I was reminded by certain
events in the news of a purer form of overriding intrinsic references.
Someone, (for non-Christian religious reasons) apparently starved
themselves to death. This was because their 'guru' has a philosophy
that believes people can live on air (presumably by spiritually
converting it internally to water and food). The disciple took the
guru at their word and suffered the consequences. There is also a long
tradition of hunger strikers who do not eat (and sometimes do not
drink) for political reasons. There are also people (mainly girls)
who have a false impression of being overweight and starve themselves
to death, if they are not treated. All these need to be explained by
the B:CP model, if the position of intrinsic references at the top
of the levels is to be credible. I am not sure whether the fact that
anorexia is hard to treat also ought to be predicted by any model.

The fact that people go to war and commit suicide suggests that survival
is not always the most important intrinsic variable. There seem to be
"social" perceptions that are at least as important. One can conjecture
what they might be, but it seems that their existence cannot be ignored.
I suspect that controlling in a way that maintains these intrinsic
variables near their reference levels may be part of the answer to the
question of how hunger strikers and anorexics are able to do what they
do. Of course, it is also possible that anorexics suffer from hardware
problems such that the gain associated with survival is lower than
normal. This seems to be one of the side effects associated with
depression.

It took me quite a while to realize that intrinsic references are not at
the top of the hierarchy in HPCT. The hierarchy exists to maintain these
variables at their reference level, but they are not part of the
hierarchy. The hierarchy is the result of learning done to maintain
intrinsic variables as error-free as possible.

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Gregory (990924.1333 EDT)]

Bill Powers (990924.1108 MDT)

I haven't assumed that survival is an intrinsic variable at all. The
intrinsic variables and their reference levels have come, through
evolution, to be those on which survival depends, but none of
them says
"survive." The concept of survival is mainly verbal, a product of the
hierarchy, not something built-in. Thus there is no problem
with people
acting in ways we would intellectually evaluate as counter-survival.

I would think there is a subset of the intrinsic variables that might be
labeled "survival" in the sense that if they are allowed to stray from
intrinsic reference levels and remain there, death will ensue. Other
intrinsic variables, such as those associated with sex and reproduction,
presumably can remain far from their reference levels without fatal
consequences.

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Gregory (990925.1157 EDT)]

Bill Powers (990925.0621 MDT)

That is what I think of all intrinsic variables monitored and
controlled by
the reorganizing system. But the reorganizing system is not smart
enough to
draw a connection between control of those variables and the survival of
the organism.
It has no intellectual capacities. But the reorganizing system has no
explicit goal of "surviving." How could it contain such an
abstract concept?

I certainly agree. I only used the word "survival" to indicate that actions
contrary to what we perceive as survival can certainly be made by an HPCT
system, a point that you made a day or so ago. The point you made about
being trapped in a local minimum is a very nice way to look at the process.

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Gregory (990928.1743 EDT)]

Steve Adey (990928.1017)

Since my sister had anorexia, is cured and is now a Gestalt therapist;
I think that I can say that, if there was a hardware failure, it was
one open to therapy at a psychological and not a chemical level.

Are you sure that therapy "at a psychological level" is not "at a
chemical level"?

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Nevin (990924.1311 EDT)]

Bruce Gregory (990924.1058 EDT)--

It took me quite a while to realize that intrinsic references are not at
the top of the hierarchy in HPCT. The hierarchy exists to maintain these
variables at their reference level, but they are not part of the
hierarchy. The hierarchy is the result of learning done to maintain
intrinsic variables as error-free as possible.

This is a nice point and I am glad that you have made it.

If intrinsic variables were at the top of the hierarchy, outputting neural
signals as the reference inputs to the topmost control systems, then how
could organisms develop new levels of control (ontogenesis, maturation),
and how could new levels of control develop in populations (phylogenesis,
evolution)?

It seems, rather, that reorganization is the best proposal as to what is at
the bleeding edge at the top, as well as internally to the hierarchy.

This also means that to call them intrinsic variables as though they were
controlled variables in the sense of qi input to comparator within the
control hierarchy is misleading.

Take blood sugar and starvation. Blood sugar is sensed and that perceptual
signal is controlled. When the means of control fail, that control loop
(falsely assuming just one) persists in outputting an error signal. But
more importantly, systems all over the body lack fuel. And in particular
individual cells throughout the body are unable successfully to control
their input of nutrients. The cells are enmeshed in "social" arrangements,
the product of evolution and individual maturation. They are not free to
abandon these and go questing for nutrients, the body of a starving person
does not dissolve into a sea of migrating, competing amoebae. However, to
the extent that cells are free to change within these mutual bonds, they
may start to do so. Reorganization in the hierarchy is a product of such
changes. (Hyperactive children typically have low blood sugar; ritalin
raises blood sugar temporarily.)

Whenever reorganization is invoked, we must ask what is going on that makes
a difference to the cells that are doing the reorganizing. Neural cells
don't control neural signals. If they did, then neural cell x would easily
come in conflict with control system X of which it is a constituent part.
That doesn't happen. If it did happen, corporeal control systems wouldn't
be able to control because the cellular control systems within them would
be independently controlling the same signals.

Reorganization is a re-starting of the process by which cells come to
constitute bodies. It is clear that in evolutionary time they do so because
it stabilizes the cellular environment of each to be part of a
multicellular whole. Amazing things result, like motor neuron cells
reaching to genetically determined areas of attachment in a distant muscle
in the body. Reorganization starts when the cellular environment stops
being supportive to the cell.

If reorganization starts with persistent error someplace in the control
hierarchy, perhaps there is an effect on a somatic variable like blood
sugar or oxygen that affects cells. Possibly imagination results in somatic
effects that we experience as emotional responses (e.g. frustration at an
unsolved problem).

  Bruce Nevin

···

At 11:02 AM 09/24/1999 -0400, Bruce Gregory wrote:

[From Kenny Kitzke (990929.1100EDT)]

<Bill Powers (990928.1350 MDT)>

Coming to you from fabulous Mystic, Conn., on our annual fall family holiday.
Will be leaving soon for Newport, RI, the mansion tour, cliff walk and the
Tennis Hall of Fame. Played a match with Chris last night. The old gray
mare just ain't what he used to be. Chris won 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4. I don't
think he was trying his best the first two sets, but said he would the last
set, and I'd be lucky to get a game. Oh yeah?

<It's always possible that we will come to recognize a higher level than
system concepts (I presume that's what you're talking about), but at some
point we must find a level that is truly the top one, and then we have to
find different explanations for the source of its reference signals. There
are several possibilities.>

You are limited this way by the constraints of your own mind. For you
propose that one level sets the reference signals for the lower level. An
interesting postulate to be sure, but simply not proven scientifically.

I have already proposed a level of human perception higher than your Level
11, a systems category of perception. This possible Twelfth Level is one of
a self-concept where every human can look down upon him/herself and access
their perceptual reference beliefs and systems level perceptions and decide
it they are or are not what they want.

Rick Marken responded favorably to this possibility. No one that I recall
refuted it.
I can conceive of even higher levels of perception, but have not yet
discussed them.

<Whatever the highest level of organization, the reference signals have to
come from _somewhere_ if they're not zero. If there's no higher level you
can't use that explanation. So what other possibilities are there?>

No, that is just your hypothetical construct that has no answer and puts you
in the corner, guessing at answers. We all await evidence of your mystical
reorganization system and what it really is.

Here is a possibility I favor. Human nature is composed of three levels of
experiencing the world: our body, our mind and our spirit. Reference levels
for our bodily senses are all set by the mind, which is higher. Reference
levels for the conscious thoughts of our mind, including our highest levels
of awareness, are all set by our human spirit. It could be like your
"reorganization system" in some ways, but is far easier to identify with our
daily lives and requires no "dumb" and "random" property to set these highest
reference levels than the rest of your proposed 11 Level hierarchy.

I think our control systems works more like this. Our bodies and physical
actions are controlled by our minds. Our minds and our conscious thoughts,
memories, imaginations, etc., are controlled by our unique human spirit.
Someday, I hope to make models and do experiments which show that it is our
human spirit, unique among all living things, that make us tick and give
purpose to our being.

I hope that when PCT can adequately recognize the importance of the Twelfth
Level and the spirit nature of man to our self expression and satisfaction
with daily life, and life's most challenging issues, that the world of
psychology and therapy will finally utter an enlightened Ahah and Alas!

Must go. Hope to discuss more when I get back to Pittsburgh.

Kenny

[From Steve Adey (990919.1103)]

[Rick Marken (990918.1600) wrote]

In a hierarchy of control systems, an insuperable disturbance
is evidence that something is wrong; either the system has
not learned the skills necessary to avoid the effects of the
disturbance (if the thermostat were part of a human type
hierarchy of control system, other systems in the hierarhcy
could learn to shut the window or move to LA), the system is
in conflict (it can't get up to close the window because other
systems want to stay seated in a comfortable chair drinking
a hot toddy) or a stronger, external agent is acting to keep
room temperature cold. This agent is actively working to nullify
all efforts of the hierarchy of control systems to keep the
temperature variable at 68 degrees.

A good example of a chronic error is the old person who is not warm
enough and in danger of hypthermia, but does not have sufficient
income to keep the fire on for long enough to stay warm. The conflict
is that they want to stay warm which requires spending money but they
do not want to spend money that they are not sure that they have.
This seems to be a case where an intrinsic reference and an internal
reference (or perhaps a stronger external agent) give rise to an
internal conflict. Since old people regularly die from hypothermia,
the HPCT explanation would appear to be that reorganization had failed
to resolve the conflict, since I assume there must be solution
strategies that would work (although they may cause internal conflicts
with other internal references but not conflict with other intrinsic
references).

This gives me some reason to doubt that intrinsic references have such
a dominant position in the hierarchy as that proposed by Bill in B:CP.
As additional support for these doubts, I would suggest that the
hypothermia experiments undertaken by the Royal Navy (involving total
body emersion in freezing water) show that the mind can override
the body temperature intrinsic reference, at least long enough to run
significant risks. I believe that these experiments always need to be
medically supervised since they run the risk of fatality.

Steve Adey
BSc Cybernetics (Reading Univ, England) - a long time ago
newbie to PCT (just finished reading B:CP)

P.S. can someone suggest what I should read next to better understand
     the current state of HPCT. I have read Bill's "Making sense
     of behavior" and Dag Forssell's papers, together with any other
     info that I could find on the web (also subscribed to CSGnet
     for the last couple of months). I am most interested in the
     higher layers of the HPCT model, that would also apply to therapy
     or coaching (and parental control).

PPS. has anyone looked at Goldratt's Theory of Constraints as a means
     of resolving conflicts, rather than the Method of Levels, and
     can anyone tell me what I should read on MOL. It seems to me that
     reorganization is essentially a constraint satisfaction process;
     which may well naturally operate by a mixture of local weighting
     improvement and random seeding to search for an satisfactory
     solution. Apart from the conjecture of focus, is there any
     explanation of how MOL assists this natural process.

[Steve Adey (990924.1000)]

I have been away at an Air Traffic Control conference for three days
but this was the only reply I got to my doubts on the position of
intrinsic references in the control hierarchy.

Steve Adey (990919.1103) wrote:

> This gives me some reason to doubt that intrinsic references have
> such a dominant position in the hierarchy as that proposed by Bill
> in B:CP.

Bruce Gregory (990920.0944 EDT) wrote

You seem to be discounting the possibility that the desire to retain
some money functions to maintain an intrinsic variable near its
reference point. Survival is threatened by freezing, but also by
starving.

Good point Bruce and I am not sure whether the predicted effect of two
intrinsic references under the B:CP model is accelerated
reorganization which does not seem to occur, or a response stuck
between the two references which does appear to occur.

However, since posting my original message I was reminded by certain
events in the news of a purer form of overriding intrinsic references.
Someone, (for non-Christian religious reasons) apparently starved
themselves to death. This was because their 'guru' has a philosophy
that believes people can live on air (presumably by spiritually
converting it internally to water and food). The disciple took the
guru at their word and suffered the consequences. There is also a long
tradition of hunger strikers who do not eat (and sometimes do not
drink) for political reasons. There are also people (mainly girls)
who have a false impression of being overweight and starve themselves
to death, if they are not treated. All these need to be explained by
the B:CP model, if the position of intrinsic references at the top
of the levels is to be credible. I am not sure whether the fact that
anorexia is hard to treat also ought to be predicted by any model.

Steve Adey

[Steve Adey (990928.1017)]

Bruce Gregory (990924.1058 EDT) wrote

The fact that people go to war and commit suicide suggests that
survival is not always the most important intrinsic variable. There
seem to be "social" perceptions that are at least as important. One
can conjecture what they might be, but it seems that their existence
cannot be ignored. I suspect that controlling in a way that
maintains these intrinsic variables near their reference levels may
be part of the answer to the question of how hunger strikers and
anorexics are able to do what they do.

As I understand it Bill postulates that they are at the top of the
hierarchy because their normal values are set in a timescale that
requires many generations to changes. Also for me, the absence of an
inherent top level presents difficulties in postulating what controls
the higest level that we can describe as non-intrinsic. It seems
strange to call 'social' perceptions as having intrinsic references
but that might be possible given the effects of socialization on
behaviour.

Of course, it is also possible that anorexics suffer from hardware
problems such that the gain associated with survival is lower than
normal. This seems to be one of the side effects associated with
depression.

Since my sister had anorexia, is cured and is now a Gestalt therapist;
I think that I can say that, if there was a hardware failure, it was
one open to therapy at a psycological and not a chemical level.

Bruce Nevin (990924.1311 EDT)

Bruce Gregory (990924.1058 EDT)--

It took me quite a while to realize that intrinsic references are
not at the top of the hierarchy in HPCT. The hierarchy exists to
maintain these variables at their reference level, but they are not
part of the hierarchy. The hierarchy is the result of learning done
to maintain intrinsic variables as error-free as possible.

This is a nice point and I am glad that you have made it.

If intrinsic variables were at the top of the hierarchy, outputting
neural signals as the reference inputs to the topmost control
systems, then how could organisms develop new levels of control
(ontogenesis, maturation), and how could new levels of control
develop in populations (phylogenesis, evolution)?

It seems, rather, that reorganization is the best proposal as to
what is at the bleeding edge at the top, as well as internally to
the hierarchy.

This also means that to call them intrinsic variables as though they
were controlled variables in the sense of qi input to comparator
within the control hierarchy is misleading.

I agree that I cannot see (given the evidence I presented) the
intrinsic references are at the top of the hierarchy, but I cannot
see that they can held outside it as you suggest. I know of no brain
mechanism that could ensure that the perceptions of these important
variables are kept from becoming inputs to one or more PCT level.
Their control may be difficult, but various Indian yogi seem to be
able to control some of them (e.g. to slow heart rate and breathing).

Given these difficulties, I am not sure that the description we have
in B:CP of the upper levels can be considered as more than conjecture.
The neat separation into levels (which may be right as an abstract
description) seems to assume a clean separation of levels while my
view is that the brain will use any perception from any level to help
it control its perception of the environment.

Bill's latest book says "Don't take these levels I propose too
seriously.". I have always taken them a bit like the Open Systems
Interconnect (OSI) model, which when you examine it contains
sub-layers and whose layers do not exactly line-up with those of
TCP/IP as used by the Internet. However the layering of OSI is
based on design and any structuring of the HPCT levels has to be based
on evolution of structure. The bottom levels of HPCT seem to
be clearly related to brain structure and hence brain mechanisms.
I know that Plooij is cited as evidence of the other levels but
maturation continues and the work of Piaget suggest other levels
(or sub-levels) must be present in the developing brain. It is my
view that while it is useful to conceptually present the HPCT levels,
they are unlikely to all be distinguishable as structures and there
may be complex cross-links between different sorts of perceptions.

Bill Powers (990924.0801 MDT)

Steve Adey (990924.1000)--

All these need to be explained by the B:CP model, if the position
of intrinsic references at the top of the levels is to be credible.
I am not sure whether the fact that anorexia is hard to treat also
ought to be predicted by any model.

The reorganizing system and its intrinsic reference levels are not
at the top of the hierarchy. They are not in the hierarchy at all.
See the diagram in B:CP on page 188.

I took that diagram as a statement that intrinsic error signal(s) are
used to drive reorganization, but not that they cannot be part of the
hierarchy. On the basis of minimalism, I see no reason to assume that
if they are available as nervous signal they could not act directly
on one or more level to affect behavior. I took them to be a part of
the system level, when they can act without causing reorganization.
The actual level is not important but without a list of candidate
intinsic references it seems difficult to test whether they only cause
reorganization; or is that the definition of an intrinsic reference? I
assumed that any reference that is determined genetically is
intrinsic and that if the error is major or prolonged it will cause
reorganization, but otherwise is corrected through a feedback loop.

Under the current model, reorganization involves the "E. coli"
effect, in which intrinsic error signals govern the rate of change
of organization in the hierarchy. If intrinsic error gets larger,
reorganization happens again right away; if it gets smaller, the
next reorganization is postponed. These changes are basically
random, although we recognize that there is a problem with getting
them to apply in the right places in the hierarchy without
changing systems that are working well (if, indeed, that is what
happens).

This is one reason why I assume a control loop operates with a fixed
reference (e.g. half). Reorganization is a radical process that seems
unlikely to achieve sensitive control although it should eventually
find a solution if one exists.

In cases such as anorexia, reorganization would be going on due to
starvation, but it is possible for the system to get into a "local
minimum" of error such that all reorganizations tend to work back
toward the same state of the system, since error gets larger for any
direction of change.

My understanding is that it is the very process of random search that
avoids getting stuck in local minimum. However any search process
needs to be able to backtrack to the last 'nearly good enough'
solution otherwise there is no guaranteed termination condition.
The descriptions of PCT and HPCT appear not to exploit the inherent
parallel nature of the brain or the use memory that could enable it to
compare results of using alternative control loops.

Some drastic change in external conditions, or a very lucky string
of random reorganizations, would be needed to escape from such a
trap.

Random search with local optimisation can be shown to be a very
efficient way to search a large space of possibilities.

The reorganizing system doesn't care about anything but the basic
"life-support" variables it monitors and tries to keep at their
intrinsic reference levels. It acts by reorganizing the hierarchy,
but it doesn't know or care how behavior changes as a result. All it
cares about is whether the changes in behavioral organization make
total intrinsic error smaller or larger. If a change makes them
smaller, the reorganizing system increases the interval between
reorganizations; if it makes them smaller, it decreases the
interval. The reorganizing system has no intelligence; is
is not rational or logical. Reason and logic appear as a consequence
of its operations, so obviously it can't use reason and logic. The
"E. coli" strategy is actually very powerful, much more powerful
than any genetic algorithm relying on random mutations could be.
This is because it has a goal (zero total intrinsic error) and a
means of adjusting the _rate_ of random changes according to
distance from the goal.

I have no problem with this basic thesis, but is there a good account
of how the E. coli algorithm operates and how it differs from other
randomized searches?

Steve Adey

P.S. I seems to me that we urgently need a definitive book on HPCT;
     and that the single appendix in Bill's latest book, while
     interesting, is not an adequate summary of all you PCT
     researchers know (or believe) and conjecture.

PPS I appear not to be the only person who misunderstood the intended
    position of intrinsic references in the hierarchy and it may be
    the source of my confusion. I have a very interesting paper:

  - Allan F Randall, "Neural Control Networks: A Literature Survey",
    NTT Systems Inc, Sept 1994.

    That document describes PCT and HPCT together with a number of
    other models. The HPCT summary diagram on page 8 shows
"High Level Reference for Intrinsic Variable" feeding "HIGHER LEVELS".

[From Steve Adey (990930.1530)]

Bruce Gregory (990928.1743 EDT)

Steve Adey (990928.1017)

Since my sister had anorexia, is cured and is now a Gestalt
therapist; I think that I can say that, if there was a hardware
failure, it was one open to therapy at a psychological and not a
chemical level.

Are you sure that therapy "at a psychological level" is not "at a
chemical level"?

Since the entire functioning of the brain depends on a chemically
powered and controlled 'meat machine', we can be sure of nothing.
However, what I meant is that as far as I know the brain was operating
'normally' and did not require external pharmaceutical intervention
to correct any abnormal chemical imbalance or functional problem.

I do not remember reading anything on PCT about using perceptions
to control body chemicals, but that is presumably what is happening
when you get an adreneline rush.

regards
Steve Adey

[From Kenny Kitzke (991002.1200EDT)]

<Bill Powers (990930.1006 MDT)>

<Aren't you limited by the constraints of your own mind?>

Did I suggest in any way that I was not? Such comments are meant to do what?
I get the feeling that you can recognize such constraints in me, but it is
harder for you to see them in your own theories? This would be very "human,"
wouldn't it?

When you propose that references at one level are set by the higher level,
except that the "reorganization" system sets the references at the highest
level with no experimental proof, I just am skeptical based on my perceptions
of myself and the world I perceive.

When I propose that our physical references are set simultaneously by our
minds and our mental references are set simultaneously by our Twelfth Level
(a self-conscience based on matters of the heart) and these highest levels of
human perception are set by our somewhat mysterious "spirit nature" with no
experimental proof, I do not blame you for being skeptical from your
viewpoint.

Given time, one of these conceptual models for human behavior and the nature
of people will better explain what people can observe about themselves and
others. I won't be distraught if your explanation proves superior. I will
be grateful and feel enlightened. And, I'm sure you would say the same. :sunglasses:

This is a perfect example of your self-imposed limits to understanding human
nature.
All your speculations must relate backward to your PCT concept. It even
causes you to invent new concepts and names for things that others have
thought about and tried to define for centuries. It seems you have to invent
your very own concepts and phenomena and definitions which satisfy your own
engineering concept constraints about how humans work. Your jargon is unique
to you and enhances your difficulty in communicating with others who have
dealt with similar issues in psychology but used different terms for similar
observations.

I have not hid where my concept of man's spirit nature comes from. I did not
invent my own term as you seem prone to do for some reason (reorganization
system, MOL, Observer, etc.,). The terms I have borrowed from history may be
foreign to you or disturbing to you but so are your terms to others.

<If you already know the answer, why do you have to make models and do
experiments? Is there any chance that they could show your answer is wrong?
If so, what could happen that would constitute contrary evidence?>

I have made proposals no better and no worse than you. I welcome you to show
me why my answer is wrong. I have expressed why I think your answers are at
least incomplete, if not incorrect.

I think the questions you pose to me are equally well directed to yourself
and your theories concerning the nature of human beings. Good luck in your
continued investigation of humans and their nature.

[From Dick Robertson,991902.2017CDT]

Kenneth Kitzke Value Creation Systems wrote:

[From Kenny Kitzke (991002.1200EDT)]

<Bill Powers (990930.1006 MDT)>

When you propose that references at one level are set by the higher level,
except that the "reorganization" system sets the references at the highest
level with no experimental proof, I just am skeptical based on my perceptions
of myself and the world I perceive.

Kenny, let me take a crack at this conversation. I hope to pre-empt a little of
Bill's time to learn more about modeling, so if I can engage you in his place for
a moment maybe it will break up a circle of what looks to me like gradually
rising exasperation on both your parts.

I hope you won't be offended if I suggest that I think you have misunderstood the
postulate about the reorganizing system in B:CP. If one feels compelled by the
apparent evidence to postulate a hierarchy of control systems (to explain where
the references get set for the lowest levles--which seem clearly established to
most people who have been at all interested in B:CP--you then come up against two
questions about the hierarchy:
1) how does it develope in the first place (since babies clearly can not control
a lot of variables that they obviously increasingly do, a la Piaget, Spitz,
(several others I can't recll now) and last and best, Plooij.
2) does it go on and up forever, or is there a top level and if so does it have
reference values?

Let's take (1) first. I can't remember if Bill mentioned the following in B:CP,
but I recall reading about some of the early attempts to build robots that could
learn from experience.
(There was one by ____I'll get it if you insist, but my memory has gaps nowadays)
which, if you kicked its shell when it came to a corner of the room it would stop
moving to that corner. They found that they had to put a "random signal
generator" into the circuitry of the robot in order for it to do something
different from what it had done previously whenever its control of its
environment was disturbed. If you stop and think about it, this is purely
logical. How can you do something you've never done before, if you don't know
what to do? If you do know how then it's not a complete innovation. Yes, you
might think you are imitating someone else's behavior. But, you can test that
out for yourself.
If you see someone doing a tennis stroke you have never done before--can you then
imitate it on the first trial? Or, do you have to have "trial and error" until
you latch on to it. You do recognize, don't you, that "trial and error" is a
synonym for "make random movements?" I hope this is enough to start you thinking
about how a biological mess of nerves would have to develope circuits that
weren't there before and then have them "tested" by whether or not the fixed
(genetically) life-support controls of such things as blood sugar level, o2
level, co2 level etc. show readings moving toward the "red zone"
or the "green zone."

Now for (2) Allowing tentatively that the development of a hierarchy of control
systems could account for a lot of things about behavior that are otherwise
lacking a convincing explanation how does it top off?

There are several possibilities. A. the topmost level in the brain gets
references from outside the skull by some means: a spiritual source
                                                   b mysterious signals from
space
                                                   c cosmic rays (sort of like b,
but maybe not)
I think I clearly understand that your answer would be a. Well, that's OK as a
matter of belief. But if you are committed ultimately to explanations which
could be demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction ( like that if you mix O2 and H
and touch a flame to it you get a bang) then a lot of people can't yet concede
that you have evidence for a, above.
B. the top level of the hierarchy never does fully develope, it is slowly and
randomly migrating through various settings throughout life, maybe with
convergence, maybe not.
C. The topmost level is in continual, slow reorganization as if trying to build
a higher level, and maybe in some people it does, and in others they die first,
and in still others, they develop a systems concept (or most abstract reference
setting whatever you want to call it ) that sets/delegates/"instructs" the level
of Principles to avoid experiencing randomness as much as possible.
B. and C. might look quite similar, but I believe I have worked out that they are
somewhat different elsewhere - to my satisfaction, maybe nobody else's.

Finally, let me say that I don't have any objection to your postulating any
scheme of how a human is built that you want. But, I find it unproductive for me
personally to try to mix schemes, testable and untestable together, as I seem to
think you are trying to do.

Best, Dick R.

···

When I propose that our physical references are set simultaneously by our
minds and our mental references are set simultaneously by our Twelfth Level
(a self-conscience based on matters of the heart) and these highest levels of
human perception are set by our somewhat mysterious "spirit nature" with no
experimental proof, I do not blame you for being skeptical from your
viewpoint.

Given time, one of these conceptual models for human behavior and the nature
of people will better explain what people can observe about themselves and
others. I won't be distraught if your explanation proves superior. I will
be grateful and feel enlightened. And, I'm sure you would say the same. :sunglasses:

This is a perfect example of your self-imposed limits to understanding human
nature.
All your speculations must relate backward to your PCT concept. It even
causes you to invent new concepts and names for things that others have
thought about and tried to define for centuries. It seems you have to invent
your very own concepts and phenomena and definitions which satisfy your own
engineering concept constraints about how humans work. Your jargon is unique
to you and enhances your difficulty in communicating with others who have
dealt with similar issues in psychology but used different terms for similar
observations.

I have not hid where my concept of man's spirit nature comes from. I did not
invent my own term as you seem prone to do for some reason (reorganization
system, MOL, Observer, etc.,). The terms I have borrowed from history may be
foreign to you or disturbing to you but so are your terms to others.

<If you already know the answer, why do you have to make models and do
experiments? Is there any chance that they could show your answer is wrong?
If so, what could happen that would constitute contrary evidence?>

I have made proposals no better and no worse than you. I welcome you to show
me why my answer is wrong. I have expressed why I think your answers are at
least incomplete, if not incorrect.

I think the questions you pose to me are equally well directed to yourself
and your theories concerning the nature of human beings. Good luck in your
continued investigation of humans and their nature.

[From Bill Powers (991003.1231 MDT)]

Kenny Kitzke (991002.1200EDT)--

<Aren't you limited by the constraints of your own mind?>

Did I suggest in any way that I was not?

Yes. If you claim to have knowledge that comes from God, you are claiming
to know things that are not limited by the constraints of your own mind.

When you propose that references at one level are set by the higher level,
except that the "reorganization" system sets the references at the highest
level with no experimental proof, I just am skeptical based on my perceptions
of myself and the world I perceive.

Kenny, this is getting annoying. I have said several times, recently, that
the reorganizing system as I envision it is NOT at the top of the
hierarchy, and does NOT work by setting references for the highest level.
What it does is to alter _parameters of control_ at _any_ level in the
hierarchy. Maybe, if it really exists, it does other things as well, but I
am proposing only this one organization-altering effect for now, as of
November 1999. Among its effects may be some effects on the settings of the
highest reference signals (whatever the highest level might prove to be).
But I don't know.

When I propose that our physical references are set simultaneously by our
minds and our mental references are set simultaneously by our Twelfth Level
(a self-conscience based on matters of the heart) and these highest levels of
human perception are set by our somewhat mysterious "spirit nature" with no
experimental proof, I do not blame you for being skeptical from your
viewpoint.

I thought that the heart is a pump. You seem to have some other
understanding of it. Your ideas were new in the 1600s. Most of us have made
some progress since then.

This is a perfect example of your self-imposed limits to understanding human
nature.

I'm afraid that I had those limits before. So do you, although you won't
admit it, believing as you do that your ideas have divine sanction and
therefore can't be wrong.

I have not hid where my concept of man's spirit nature comes from. I did not
invent my own term as you seem prone to do for some reason (reorganization
system, MOL, Observer, etc.,). The terms I have borrowed from history may be
foreign to you or disturbing to you but so are your terms to others.

Weren't those terms new, and different from what went before them, at the
times in history you are borrowing from? I think every new idea requires
some new thinking and some new terms.

<If you already know the answer, why do you have to make models and do
experiments? Is there any chance that they could show your answer is wrong?
If so, what could happen that would constitute contrary evidence?>

I have made proposals no better and no worse than you. I welcome you to show
me why my answer is wrong. I have expressed why I think your answers are at
least incomplete, if not incorrect.

But your understanding of my ideas shows a very sketchy and superficial
understanding of them -- for example, your understanding of my idea of
reorganization. And you're simply asserting that your ideas are correct.
Where are the tests you propose that might show they are incorrect, if that
is the case?

I think the questions you pose to me are equally well directed to yourself
and your theories concerning the nature of human beings. Good luck in your
continued investigation of humans and their nature.

Why don't I think you mean that?

Best,

Bill P.

from [Kenny Kitzke (991004.0730EDT)]

<Dick Robertson,991902.2017CDT>

<Kenny, let me take a crack at this conversation. I hope to pre-empt a
little of
Bill's time to learn more about modeling, so if I can engage you in his place
for
a moment maybe it will break up a circle of what looks to me like gradually
rising exasperation on both your parts.>

You are most welcome to do so. Knowing how good a controller Bill is though,
I think he responds to challenges that are important to him. Modeling one
day, human nature another. To get any of his time is an honor. If I ever
get too exasperated, I don't have to reorganize to deal with it. I just
change my behavior by intention. I suspect Bill does that too for persistent
error of disobedient or dumb followers. :sunglasses:

<I hope you won't be offended if I suggest that I think you have
misunderstood the
postulate about the reorganizing system in B:CP.>

Shucks, professor. I am fortunate to have a good teacher like you. No
offense at all.

<They found that they had to put a "random signal
generator" into the circuitry of the robot in order for it to do something
different from what it had done previously whenever its control of its
environment was disturbed. If you stop and think about it, this is purely
logical. How can you do something you've never done before, if you don't know
what to do?>

Well, this robot turtle, or whatever, is not a human. Why would you conclude
that since a random signal generator helped a robot turtle behave in new way
it is logical that such a generator would be needed to help a human being
establish new control loops or reference values?

I do things I've never done before every day. I drove to Mystic Connecticut
for the first time ever last week. I used my human intellect along with a
map and instructions from the Internet, not a random road number generator.
Got there fine on the first trial.

I have thought about it Dick, and still find the idea of a random
reorganization system preposterous. Random means all possibilities are
equally probable to be selected, at least mathematically. I don't think
humans normally behave or "reorganize" randomly in that sense. I'd like to
see your evidence if you have any.

I can appreciate that while intentionally behaving for one purpose, one may
discover new ideas accidentally or incidentally that are appreciated or
remembered and are useful for control of something else. But, I would not
say learning new things requires a truly random process, even if control does
not seem to be working for high level perceptual variables.

Bill's Little Man shows how effective a random behavior code can be in
helping a computer program achieve a known goal just like the robot turtle.
Bill even shows how the Little Man can outperform a human being using his
programming. Hurrah! For me, that would be a clue that what is being
modeled may not be a human at all and would mislead one in speculating how
humans must work.

<If you do know how then it's not a complete innovation.>

You don't know until you do it. Then you know. Then you remember. Up to
then, humans can use an educated guess, not a random guess, to achieve goals;
why not even the goals of reducing intrinsic error? This ability to create
from nothing is inherent in the human spirit and is not found in plants and
animals which seem programmed intrinsically but within smaller limits.

You don't need to run computer models or test pigeons for pecking preferences
to realize this, do you? And, you don't need to invent a random
"reorganization system" to explain it either, unless your control theory
model hypothesis of how humans work requires one.

<If you see someone doing a tennis stroke you have never done before--can you
then
imitate it on the first trial? Or, do you have to have "trial and error"
until
you latch on to it. You do recognize, don't you, that "trial and error" is a
synonym for "make random movements?">

Nope, I think that trial and error experimentation is intuitive, not random.
Perhaps that is my problem with your black magic science of reorganization.
:sunglasses: A random movement would include standing on your head to create some new
to you tennis stroke. I don't think a human will do that. But, a programmed
robot might tumble upside down in its effort to find a way to make a new
shot. And, it would help eliminate the ways that don't work. Fortunately,
humans have a better method built into their humanity.

<I hope this is enough to start you thinking
about how a biological mess of nerves would have to develop circuits that
weren't there before and then have them "tested" by whether or not the fixed
(genetically) life-support controls of such things as blood sugar level, o2
level, co2 level etc. show readings moving toward the "red zone"
or the "green zone.">

I must be stupid professor. I see no reason to think that such development
is random with all possibilities equally likely and independent. It is more
easy for me to accept that our human circuits have preferred (intelligent)
innate abilities to deal with disturbances, unknown circumstances and error,
including intrinsic error.

What is your explanation of instinct? Is it the result random
reorganization? If animals have instinct built in that requires no
reorganization to perform a new task, why would it not seem plausible to you
that humans have an even superior ability to respond to intrinsic needs or
high level errors that are anything but random in nature?