Free Energy & PCT

A Brit named Karl Friston has a theory he calls “free energy.” Here’s a snippet that caught my attention in a post on another list:

“The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe tends toward entropy, toward dissolution; but living things fiercely resist it. We wake up every morning nearly the same person we were the day before, with clear separations between our cells and organs, and between us and the world without. How? Friston’s free energy principle says that all life, at every scale of organization—from single cells to the human brain, with its billions of neurons—is driven by the same universal imperative, which can be reduced to a mathematical function. To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs. Or, in Fristonian terms, it is to minimize free energy.”

Sounds a bit like PCT. Here’s a link to the much longer piece.

https://www.wired.com/story/karl-friston-free-energy-principle-artificial-intelligence/?fbclid=IwAR2_6frrq-6KksGVn-Xrpfdrv6DHgSid20m2SHqdZiE6itPoF9H9UURkOL0

···

I tried posting this to IAPCT but couldn’t send an email. How do you post to IAPCT?

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“My Objective is to Help You Achieve Yours”

www.nickols.us

[From Bruce Nevin (2019.10.23.10:17 ET)]

Fred, do a search of prior csgnet email on “Friston” to see prior discussion.

If by “posting this to IAPCT” you mean creating a post at http://discourse.iapct.org/ you have to go there to do it. It sends email to you (unless you tell it not to), but you can’t send email to it. If one could send email to it, the categories and topics would soon be reduced to the welter of sometimes accurate subject headings that prevails on CSGnet.

···

On Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 9:19 AM Fred Nickols csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

A Brit named Karl Friston has a theory he calls "free energy."Â Here’s a snippet that caught my attention in a post on another list:

“The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe tends toward entropy, toward dissolution; but living things fiercely resist it. We wake up every morning nearly the same person we were the day before, with clear separations between our cells and organs, and between us and the world without. How? Friston’s free energy principle says that all life, at every scale of organization—froom single cells to the human brain, with its billions of neurons—is driven by the same universal imperative, which can be reduced to a mathematical function. To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs. Or, in Fristonian terms, it is to minimize free energy.”

Sounds a bit like PCT. Here’s a link to the much longer piece.

https://www.wired.com/story/karl-friston-free-energy-principle-artificial-intelligence/?fbclid=IwAR2_6frrq-6KksGVn-Xrpfdrv6DHgSid20m2SHqdZiE6itPoF9H9UURkOL0

I tried posting this to IAPCT but couldn’t send an email. How do you post to IAPCT?

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“My Objective is to Help You Achieve Yours”

www.nickols.us

[Martin Taylor 2019.10.23.09.43]

Yes, it's not only very like PCT, but is actually implied by PCT. In

other words, if PCT is correct, then so is Friston’s argument, but
the reverse is not necessarily true. It’s a bit like the false
syllogism: . I first came across Friston because Warren and Rick were arguing
with him some years ago on a blog whose URL I forget. So far as I
can tell, the key difference between PCT and Friston’s work is the
implication he and his many followers draw from the idea in the
quoted paragraph. In that paragraph, I would disagree strongly with
the second-last sentence, for which I would substitute something
along the lines of "
“Fristonians” think reduction of free energy implies the necessity
for computing output in real time in order to make perception become
what it was predicted to be, whereas PCT says that you act in a
direction that prior experience, in the form of reorganization, says
would push the perception in a direction towards its reference
value. For PCT, no on-line real-time computation is necessary. Of course, in conscious control when we are thinking “how can we do
this” rather than just tracking a cursor, we are actually doing
“Fristonian” real-time computation of output, imagining –
predicting – what the results of doing as opposed to might be, and ignoring changes in the disturbance while we follow
the plan we concocted. That’s much slower than simply moving the
perception in the right direction without further computation, but
it’s what we have to do when we are confronted with a new problem
that requires effective control of sequence that is not (yet)
reorganized into the hierarchy.
Friston and PCT use the same hierarchic structure of control, but
with a slightly different set of connections between levels on the
perceptual side of the hierarchy. I have argued on CSGnet in couple
of different threads over the last two or three years that the
Friston circuit, which performs mathematically identically to the
Powers circuit but is more flexible in operation, is likely to be
the better approximation to the biological facts.
Friston has many followers, and it is possible that one of the ways
we might propagate PCT is to persuade some of them that they are
right to follow Friston’s free-energy principle and determine what
it implies, but that the PCT concept of bringing
perceptions closer to their reference values with little or no
on-line computation is more parsimonious both as theory and in
practical demand on neural resources than analyzing failures of
prediction into patterns of output in real time.
Martin

···

On 2019/10/23 9:19 AM, Fred Nickols
( via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

fwnickols@gmail.com

      A Brit named Karl

Friston has a theory he calls "free energy."Â Here’s a snippet
that caught my attention in a post on another list:

          "The

second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe
tends toward entropy, toward dissolution; but living
things fiercely resist it. We wake up every morning nearly
the same person we were the day before, with clear
separations between our cells and organs, and between us
and the world without. How? Friston’s free energy
principle says that all life, at every scale of
organization—from single cells to the human brain, wiith
its billions of neurons—is driven by the same universsal
imperative, which can be reduced to a mathematical
function. To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that
reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory
inputs. Or, in Fristonian terms, it is to * minimize
free energy*."

        Sounds a bit like PCT.  Here's a link to the much longer

piece.

https://www.wired.com/story/karl-friston-free-energy-principle-artificial-intelligence/?fbclid=IwAR2_6frrq-6KksGVn-Xrpfdrv6DHgSid20m2SHqdZiE6itPoF9H9UURkOL0

  •  All men are mortal/ Fido is mortal/ Therefore Fido is
    

a man*

  •      To
    

be alive is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between what
you want to perceive and what your sensory inputs tell you is
‘out there*’."
this**that
necessarily

                                I tried posting this to IAPCT but

couldn’t send an email. How do you
post to IAPCT?

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

** Distance
Consulting LLC**

  •                                    "My Objective is to Help You
    

Achieve Yours"*

www.nickols.us

Martin,

It’s been really a long time since you started to talk about that Friston could be more correct about hierarchy than Bill Powers. And maybe you are right. Maybe I could even prove that.

MT : I have argued on CSGnet in couple of different threads over the last two or three years that the Friston circuit, which performs mathematically identically to the Powers circuit but is more flexible in operation, is likely to be the better approximation to the biological facts.

HB : I never admitted before, although I prepared few answers for that problem for you in the past, that what you are mentioning about “Friston” is true. His circuit (as far as I understand now his theory) is in some points better aproximation for the hierarchy. But you never gave any evidences that you (or Friston) could be right. But I might have evidences. The problem is how we could solve the riddle to show them.

I see a problem in your discussion or discussion of any other CSGnet member (for ex. Rick or Bruce N.) that you are just talking about what could be right or not about PCT or about “biological facts” or how organisms function. Where are any real evidences that you could be right ???

I hope that you recognize that I’m talking about problem of Bills diagram p. 191 (B:CP, 2005) for exactly 10 years and few month which should be improved so that it could show better approximation to the “biological facts”. And that’s the point where CSGnet is stuck and it’s “turning arround in the place”. Even talking to Powers ladies doesn’t help. It seems that they are hipnotized by Rick’s and Bruce N. phylosophy. PCT is not moving anywhere. I think that’s even regressing. Although I argued many times that PCT could be really the best aproximation to the “biological facts”. And I’m all the time using Bill Powers arguments and it seems that nobody beleive that Bill could be right with exactly his diagrams and exactly his terminology, which should be just slightly upgraded. Nothing else for the beggining. Just explanation of “extra arrow”.

image001137.png

HB : The problem with Friston that I’m ephasizing all this time since you are talking about is how Friston came to the main conclussion :

KF : is driven by the same universal imperative, which can be reduced to a mathematical function. To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs. Or, in Fristonian terms, it is to minimize free energy."

HB : So how Friston get to the conclussion that “minimizing” the difference (or the gulf) between “expectations and sensory inputs” are the final goals of organisms functioning ?

If Friston made the main conclussion on the basis of his experiences with observing World around it’s very unlikely that he could come to the same conslussion as Bill. Even Wiener didn’t come to that conclussion and we know that he made corner stone for Bills’ theory. That goes for Ashby too. Bill Powers upgraded both with genious conclussion.

One of the problems is that if we postulate that “difference between expectations and perceptions” is the basis for theory that it doesn’t matter how we call that principle. We can say that it’s “minimizing free energy” or “lowering the short blinded horse dioptry” etc. The main problem is that with however we call theory we are not explainng the process of reducing the gap between references (expectations) and perceptions. And Friston is just one of scientists that is not giving right arguments for the FACT of reducing the gap betweem “expectations and perceptions” although he probably could. I don’t see how and where he is explaining what “sensory inputs and expectations” could be. At least to the point I inderstand what he wrote about. Of course I could be wrong and I’ll be glad if you or Friston correct me.

Friston made it in mathematical way so that most of human can’t understand what he is talking about, although he is neurophysiologist and he could do it in much simpler way. Bill’s terminology is complicated but not as much as Fristons and beside that Bill Powers made some clear and easy understanding diagrams and definitions which only some of CSGnet members recognize as basic representatives of Bill’s theory, he supported his PCT with some very important physiological facts (not just biological as Maturana did) which I don’t see in Fristons theory. And If I understand the status of Friston he is (or was) working on theoretical departement of College.

All in all I think that it would be interesting to see who really understand PCT and Friston to the level that he could made a comparison between these two theories and explain as probably your intention was to write about basic principle of Universe – entropy and probably about processes that oppose eentropy.Â

But anyway I think that Friston took Bills idea about “difference or gulf” and mathematical explanation of the main process in human organism about “reducing the gap between expectations and sensory inputs” or better between “references and perceptions”.

It seems simply unlikely to me that two persons could have the same idea about how organisms basically function. But even if they are both right I think Bills theory is much more comprehensive and clear about how organisms “reduce the gap between reference and perception”.

HB : Beside these problems between theories I don’t understand where did you get the idea that perception is “pushed” toward it’s reference in PCT???

MT : “Fristonians” think reduction of free energy implies the necessity for computing output in real time in order to make perception become what it was predicted to be, whereas PCT says that you act in a direction that prior experience, in the form of reorganization, says would push the perception in a direction towards its reference value. For PCT, no on-line real-time computation is necessary.

HB : “Pushing perception” is the main postulate of RCT (Ricks Control Theory). I mentioned that several times as wrong understanding of PCT how gap between perception and referecens are reduced. I told you many times that Rick is misleading CSGnet and of course also you.

Every experiment I made till now show just opposite. That actions (behavior) are not pushing perceptions toward references. Experimnets showed that clearly. It’s some other principle that Bill used to explain how gap is reduced. And when you understand that principle you understand how organisms function.

MT : Of course, in conscious control when we are thinking “how can we do this” rather than just tracking a cursor, we are actually doing “Fristonian” real-time computation of output, imagining – predicting –

<

HB : How did you came to that conclussion ??? And in PCT we are doing everything with “reflexes” no real-time computations, no imaging, no predicting… ??? “Refleex circuit” or “open loop” which is generally shown in all kind of books is of course wrong and that’s what PCT is criticizing. All thise processes you mentioned are implicitly inherent to organisms functions as PCT explain it. Rick or who ever you thought with doing “tracking the cursor” is not doing “Fristonian real time computations” because we don’t know what that exactly mean, but Rick is trying to do PCT “computations” although he is really doing RCT "Rick Control Theory) computations. “Conscious control” is better explained (by my oppinion) with PCT than with Friston’s theory. Although there could be some points in hierarchy where Fristons hierarchy is better explained. Â

MT : …what the results of doing this/i> as opposed to that might be, and ignoring changes in the disturbance while we follow the plan we concocted.

HB : Might be ??? I’m trying but I can’t understand what you are talking about ignoring in PCT hierarchy with term “plan” ???

MT : That’s much slower than simply moving the perception in the right direction without further computation,

HB : Where exactly do you see from Bills literature that “perception is not simply moved in the right direction” without further computations ??? It seems that you are all the time describing RCT not PCT. The basic functioning of nervous system and thus hierarchy is aproximatelly described in definition of comparator :

Bill P (B:CP) :

COMPARATOR : The portion of control system that computes the magnitude and direction of mismatch between perceptual and reference signal.

HB : Comparator has “computational” basis for functioning not perfect “functional relationship” as most of members  thought on CSGnet (speccially including Rick and his RCT). So the whole nervous system works as “computational machine” including plans. At least in PCT.

It would be much easier to talk about PCT if all CSGet members including Powers ladies would accept Bills definitions (B:CP) and diagram LCS III for basic representatives of PCT. It could be also better basis for improving PCT. But nobody listen and it seems that nobody care about what Bill Powers wrote about PCT. That goes for Powers ladies too. The main point of dicussions on CSGnet seems to be promotions of members philosophy (at least if I emphasize the main protagonists of phylosophing on CSGnet). Â

But since most of members of CSGnet don’t want to accept what I’m proposing you have troubles with understanding PCT and this is neverending story. This is specially meant for Rick, Bruce N., Warren, Powers ladies, etc. It’s inevitably. If you want to understand PCT you have to accept definitions of PCT “circuit” and diagram LCS III so that we can finaly go to the highway of improving PCT into the top theory about how organisms function.

William T. Powers at all (50th Anniversary, 2011) : Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) provides a general theory of functioning for organisms

HB : As I wrote many times before. Real-time experiments with slowy obtained results will show exactly that definitons of control loop and diagram LCS III show exactly right how organisms function.

Too fast experiments like “tracking task”, “Rubber-band” etc. could show nothing or can be misleading about PCT. Like Ricks wrong unerstanding of “paralaxes” and “behavior is control” and

  • “preople control people all the time”,

  • everything in the loop happens in the same time,

  • There is some “cannonical principle”,

  • there is some “extrasensory perception”,

  • "people running after helicopters"in “stimuls-respons” way,

  • control loops functioning as separate units in 2-dimenssional space etc.

All these neboulouses which also misleaded you Martin were not necessary if you all would except the main point of PCT which is expressed in diagram LCS III and definitions of control loop (BC:P). because they can be proved with real life experiments not laboratory. And that could be the basis for further discussions and what is most important about improvements to PCT. My proposal is the only proposal on CSGnet which is using pure Bill Powers terminology and his literature and is expressing the real basis of PCT. When Powers ladies will recognize that this is the only way that CSGnet discussions unify and move form “rotating on one place” and get on the road to popularity. Because it will be clear what PCT is. As it is now, PCT theory is vulnerable for any “mish-mash” theory like Rick and Bruce N. are proving most of the time when they wrote about PCT. They have their bright moments. And here I could include also Fristons theory.

Â

MT : …but it’s what we have to do when we are confronted with a nnew problem that requires effective control of sequence that is not (yet) reorganized into the hierarchy.

HB : What this could mean ?

MT : Friston and PCT use the same hierarchic structure of control, but with a slightly different set of connections between levels on the perceptual side of the hierarchy.

HB : Slight different connections between levels “on the perceptual side of the hierachy” doesn’t expalin the main problem of organisms functioning. It’s partial solution as we have to understand that Friston is limited by his neurophysiological knowledge.

Well I’ve been proposing to change PCT diagram p. 191 (BC:P) for a decade and nothing happened. O.K. I agree that Friston’s “circuit” could be in some places better aproximation to biological facts than PCT, but right explanation of diagram could be much better explanation than Friston could ever thought of. Right explanation of diagram p. 191 (BC:P) could even improve Fristons explanation.

So the main problem I see with emphasizing Fristons “circuit” to be better as PCT in how will you prove that ? Just mathematical solution will not be enough specially if nobody understands what it is about.

I strongly beleive that I made right decission by proposing the “arrow” to Bills diagram p. 191 (B:CP, 2005) because it’s the basic stone PCT and Friston should use to make clear understanding how hierarchy and organisms function. The main problem Bill Powers and Friston had is not whole understanding about how organisms function because they both directed their theories to much narrow (mostly into nervous system) alias neurophsiology. That’s not enough to explainin whole organisms functioning. Human organism is so complicated “biological machine” which was produced for at least 4,5 bilion years. So there is a lot of work for both theories to be done. And of course for RCT, BNCT, MCT, FCT, WCT etc.

And for all members of CSGnet or IAPCT or whatever forums there are for talking about PCT, it does not help any promotion of any theory if understanding the basics of PCT is not achieved.

And the main question is : would you want to understand what Bill Powers really meant with his PCT theory ? There are so many different “oppinions” which I call “XY Control Theory” that confussion can’f be bigger. I understand that you follow (as genetical creatures) the basic principles of reorganization seeking for right solutions but wouldn’t it be better if we make common platform for understanding PCT and then try to make “reorganization” variations on the same Theme, and all other necessary improvements on scientific basis not phylosophical.

Boris

···

From: Martin Taylor (mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2019 4:25 PM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: Free Energy & PCT

[Martin Taylor 2019.10.23.09.43]

On 2019/10/23 9:19 AM, Fred Nickols (fwnickols@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

A Brit named Karl Friston has a theory he calls “free energy.” Here’s a snippet that caught my attention in a post on another list:

“The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe tends toward entropy, toward dissolution; but living things fiercely resist it. We wake up every morning nearly the same person we were the day before, with clear separations between our cells and organs, and between us and the world without. How? Friston’s free energy principle says that all life, at every scale of organization—from single cells too the human brain, with its billions of neurons—is driven by the samme universal imperative, which can be reduced to a mathematical function. To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs. Or, in Fristonian terms, it is to minimize free energy.”

Sounds a bit like PCT. Here’s a link to the much longer piece.

https://www.wired.com/story/karl-friston-free-energy-principle-artificial-intelligence/?fbclid=IwAR2_6frrq-6KksGVn-Xrpfdrv6DHgSid20m2SHqdZiE6itPoF9H9UURkOL0

Yes, it’s not only very like PCT, but is actually implied by PCT. In other words, if PCT is correct, then so is Friston’s argument, but the reverse is not necessarily true. It’s a bit like the false syllogism: All men are mortal/ Fido is mortal/ Therefore Fido is a man.
I first came across Friston because Warren and Rick were arguing with him some years ago on a blog whose URL I forget. So far as I can tell, the key difference between PCT and Friston’s work is the implication he and his many followers draw from the idea in the quoted paragraph. In that paragraph, I would disagree strongly with the second-last sentence, for which I would substitute something along the lines of “To be alive is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between what you want to perceive and what your sensory inputs tell you is 'out there’.”
“Fristonians” think reduction of free energy implies the necessity for computing output in real time in order to make perception become what it was predicted to be, whereas PCT says that you act in a direction that prior experience, in the form of reorganization, says would push the perception in a direction towards its reference value. For PCT, no on-line real-time computation is necessary.
Of course, in conscious control when we are thinking “how can we do this” rather than just tracking a cursor, we are actually doing “Fristonian” real-time computation of output, imagining – predicting – what the results of doing this as opposed to that might be, and ignoring changes in the disturbance while we follow the plan we concocted. That’s much slower than simply moving the perception in the right direction without further computation, but it’s what we have to do when we are confronted with a new problem that requires effective control of sequence that is not (yet) reorganized into the hierarchy.
Friston and PCT use the same hierarchic structure of control, but with a slightly different set of connections between levels on the perceptual side of the hierarchy. I have argued on CSGnet in couple of different threads over the last two or three years that the Friston circuit, which performs mathematically identically to the Powers circuit but is more flexible in operation, is likely to be the better approximation to the biological facts.
Friston has many followers, and it is possible that one of the ways we might propagate PCT is to persuade some of them that they are right to follow Friston’s free-energy principle and determine what it necessarily implies, but that the PCT concept of bringing perceptions closer to their reference values with little or no on-line computation is more parsimonious both as theory and in practical demand on neural resources than analyzing failures of prediction into patterns of output in real time.

Martin

I tried posting this to IAPCT but couldn’t send an email. How do you post to IAPCT?

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“My Objective is to Help You Achieve Yours”

www.nickols.us