[From Rick Marken (970515.1320 PDT)]
Thanks to Stefan Balke (970515.1045 CET), Jeff Vancouver (970515.1200
EST) and Bruce Gregory (970515.1415 EST) for their thoughts about Deep
Blue. I liked all of your comments. I'll just do a brief (I hope)
riff on what I was thinking about when I mentioned an interest in
levelsof control in chess.
Playing chess is clearly a control task; the players try to achieve
their goals (the ultimate goal being to place the other player in
checkmate) in the context of physical and social constraints (the latter
being the agreed on rules of the game) and independent disturbances (the
most important being the other player's moves).
It doesn't seem surprising to me that it is possible to design a
computer program that can beat a human chess expert. A computer seems
like the kind of machine that can carry out (far more quickly and
efficiently than a human) the computations that a human carries out when
playing chess. What a human computes (at least what _this_ human
computes) are various measures of the "state of the game" after many
different possible moves ahead. These _imagined_ perceptual measures of
game state are compared to the player's reference states for these
perceptions. I think that when I play I often select moves that are the
"first step" in an imagined sequence of moves that end up producing
(imagined) perceptions of future states of the game
that are most like my references for those perceptions. So I make
the move that ends up with me taking your queen and forking your bishop
and rook in two or three moves, for example.
Chess is interesting because, even with a super fast computer, it
is probably impossible to search _all_ possible follow-ups to every
move. There has to be some strategy for examining the problem space.
And there must also be some choice made regarding the aspects of the
game states (what we would call the "controlled perceptual variables")
that are used as a basis for determining whether to select one move path
or another. Some of the perceptual variables controlled
by these chess programs must be pretty simple: relative value of
pieces lost in exchanges, number of pieces lost in exchanges, number and
value of pieces "threatened", etc. But some of the perceptions
that are controlled are probably pretty complex, like "control of
center" or "piece development", which seem like principle level
perceptions (there are many move contingencies that can produce
game states that match the references for these perceptions)>
I think chess programs control several levels (in the PCT hierarchy
sense) of perception simultaneously; configurations, relationships,
sequences, programs, and principles. I don't think the programs are
controlling system level perceptions, such as the perception of being in
a chess match with another player. I think this is what might be one
thing that gave Kasparov some of his problems. Perhaps he is used to
dealing with systems whose reference levels for the variables (in
particular, the principle perception) they control come from a
higher level of control -- control of system concepts. Perhaps he
is expecting the machine to alter its references for certain lower level
perceptions of the game (including principles like "control of center")
in the same way people do? If so, I think Kasparov might,
indeed, get better against this non-living control system (Deep Blue)
once he has more experience playing against it.
Rick, what is Life Learning Associates?
A desperate attempt to make it look like I have a life outside of
I visited your page a time ago...and remember that you announced
workshops or something like that. What is the purpose and concept
of LLA? Do you want to bring PCT ideas into the practice?
Yes. "Life Learning Associates" is going to be my forum for teaching PCT
to the "masses". I don't want to teach "PCT for managers" or "PCT for
teachers" or "PCT for clinicians" or "PCT for engineers" or whatever. I
want to give seminars in basic PCT to people who see some merit in
understanding how people (including themselves) actually work. Whether
those people are managers or workers or educators or
students or retires army officers or whatever doesn't matter.
Of course, at present I see virtually _no_ interest in such seminars.
I once called William Glasser and offered to give such a seminar to
his Reality Therapy people, thinking he might be a good candidate since
Reality Therapy was, at that time, purportedly based on PCT;
but he wasn't interested.
So, until there is a ground swell of interest in learning PCT --
just PCT -- I think I'll keep my day job;-)
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org