Experiencing control

[From Rick Marken (941115.1030)]

Bruce Abbott (941114.1630 EST)--

Although I have "explained" the model in traditional reinforcement theory
terms, I'm sure that an equivalent PCT model could be formulated that would
do essentially the same thing

Let's try this again:

1) reinforcement theory is NOT the same as control theory.

2) reinforcement theory is NOT about what control theory is about -- control.

3) reinforcement theory is a completely and utterly incorrect explanation of
the behavior of organisms.

The E coli programs that you have presented:

1) control the sensed gradient of "nutrition" in their environment (and, from
the observer's point of view, arrive at a target point) when they implement a
control model.

2) control nothing -- indeed, they produce random results -- when they
implement a reinforcement model.



I think it might help if you set up the E. coli program so that YOU are the
subject and you can actually experience control; it's very easy to do.
Notice how little learning is involved; you are immediately able to hit the
space bar appropriately in order to keep the dot moving toward a target
position on the screen. Note, also, that you can select the target position
yourself -- the dot has no say in where it ends up. As you do this, see if
you think that the consequences of you bar pressing (the reinforcements and
punishments) are controlling your bar pressing; do you feel like pressing the
bar again if the result of your last press was movement away from the target?
Do you feel this even if the dot is now moving toward the target? Suppose
that you decide to move the dot to a new target position; do movements of the
dot away from the old target position still make you want to press the bar
again (if they ever did)? What if the dot is moving away from the old target
but toward the new one? Is there still a little "reinforcingness" left over
that makes you want to press the bar? Does it seem like your actions (bar
presses) are controlled BY their consequences, or does it seem like you are
in control OF the consequences of your actions?

After doing this demo, let me know if you think that reinforcement theory
merits anything other than a hearty belly laugh?