[From Bill Powers (921214.1900 MST)]
Thomas Baines (921214) --
I am one of those bastards that you call on when your
national interests (as expressed by your President), or your
corporate interests (as expressed by your Board), or your
personal interests (as expressed by your complaint against your
fellow) get threatened or abused. As military officer,
economist/consultant, or lawyer, I get to deal with the trash
that others create. I will use whatever paradigm, model,
augury, or insight that helps me deal with that trash with the
very least cost to all concerned.
And I'm glad you are one of those bastards, because the world is
the way it is. I keep saying that I'm not against coping with
whatever we must cope with, by whatever means we have so far
developed. We need armed forces and police and laws. That's
because we have never developed anything better.
You must understand, however, that coping and revolutionizing
are two different activities. The copers of the world live in
the world, they are part of it, they accept it the way it is and
try to do their best with it. That's a full-time job. The
revolutionary theorist, on the other hand, is not part of the
same world except physically. The revolutionary theorist does
not accept the world the way it is. He doesn't take sides, at
least when wearing his official hat. He sees war, in this case,
as a problem for both sides, brought about by insufficient or
incorrect understanding of human nature on both sides. The very
steps taken by both sides to preserve themselves, as they see
it, are the steps that lead to war. When you push on a control
system, it pushes back. The pushing back is natural, as is the
pushing. It is human nature that leads to the escalation of
conflict, and when people understand the inevitability of
conflict when control systems clash, they will cease to be
surprised when their efforts bring on the very thing they wish
to avoid. They will understand that the pusher is as much
responsible for the resistance as the pushee. They will cease to
expect to get what they want by physical force.
That's a long way down the road. But we have to start down it
sometime. Now seems like a good time to me.
John Gabriel (921214.1135 CST) --
A real science of human behavior is the ultimate protection
Think on that. And Heinlen's remark that an armed society is
a polite society, also on Roy Chapman's rule "Never point a gun
at anything/one unless you are willing to take personal
responsibility for its' their destruction."
I'm afraid that despite his enormous story-telling skills, I
eventually came to regard Heinlein as being stuck in an adolescent fantasy.
What he called a polite society was simply
one in which everyone tried not to give offense in order to
avoid being killed: a society based on fear (mislabelled
"respect"). I think I would rather live in Dodge City 1992 than
in Dodge City 1872. My idea of a grown-up society is one in
which everyone respects the will of others because that's the
only social system that makes any sense. Not because they see a
gun pointed at them. That basis lasts only as long as it takes
for the other guy to turn his back.
As to Roy Chapman's rule, lots of people just love it because it
gives them the feeling that other people's lives are theirs to
spare or waste as they will. Why is being willing to take
responsibility a good enough excuse for shooting someone? As if
you could avoiud the responsibility by not acknowledging it.
Frankly, I would be afraid to suggest to someone with a private
arsenal that guns should be taken out of private hands. I would
be afraid he'd shoot me, and be willing to take responsibility
I can't tell if you've read Peterson and the Altmans. The thing
that makes them interesting to me is the way the society where
the carnivores can do real harm to each other, but don't
because if they do they will be too torn up to catch the next
moose, moves gradually towards the chicken run where nobody has
claws and teeth, and it's fatal to be crowded and at the bottom
of the pecking order.
I have read them, but not seriously. I eat meat, but not that of
my own species. I'm not sure we know why lions don't enter into
lethal contests very often. I might guess that it's because
fighting hurts, and lower animals are too stupid to think up
reasons to keep on doing things that hurt.
Let me say one thing that may
bring down a firestorm. Before the railroad and the telegraph
and good maps (Gauss's contribution) by and large wars had a
not unreasonable ecological function - they closed down
But it takes two incompetent governments to get into a war. The
government that wins is more competent at only one thing:
winning a war. That's not much guarantee of competence in
How to close down an incompetent government without
unacceptable cost in lives, misery, ....... Trade wars perhaps.
Better to be laid off than killed or badly mangled.
That's the problem as I see it: that there always seems to be an
acceptable cost in lives, misery, etc. "Sure, we'll get our hair
mussed, but we'll lose maybe ten million, twenty million TOPS."
(Prof. Buck Turgidson).
Completely agreed - how do we keep people from wanting to shoot >at each
other? No, I don't want to say that - don't believe in
But that's exactly the question. The way we approach it with
HPCT is by studying the hierarchical goal structure.
Why do people want to shoot at each other, and WHAT might make
them want to stop?
Now you're on the same track that I'm on. Only the problem isn't
to make them want to stop. It's what they're trying to
accomplish at a higher level by shooting. The basic strategy is
to find out what they want and figure out how they can get it by
a different means. Nobody (sane) has a highest-level goal of
propelling a bit of lead into another person's body. That's just
a means to an end. It's basically a very inefficient means,
because it gets other people mad and they tend to start shooting
back at you (whether they're the Good Guys or the Bad Guys).
Then everybody gets hung up on shooting and they forget what
they originally wanted, and like as not destroy any possibility
of getting it anyway. Look at Somalia. That's a polite society?
It's a process called "going up a level." You keep doing it
until you reach the level where something is still free enough
to change a goal. If someone wants money or power, you ask what
he wants it for. And then you arrange for him to get it without
the money and the power, or at least without unreasonable
amounts thereof. Whatever people want, they usually want it for
a higher reason that they've lost track of or never really
worked out. Or, on second thought, haven't really cared that
much about since they were teenagers.
Picking up loose end from yesterday:
Bill, I read, and I think I understand you. Put very simply,
you are saying that a human being can follow a random movement
of a cursor with a finger, and that this is explained by
Yes. This can also be put somewhat more generally. A human being
can control a visual (auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) perception by
means of producing a motor output with the muscles. This process
is explained by control theory. In fact, there is nothing else a
human being can do by way of behavior.
So the "tracking" experiment is simply a prototype of all human
behavior. If you've seen Demo 1, you will know that in place of
the cursor and target you can substitute all sorts of other
perceptions that are affected by the motor output: the pitch of
a sound, the shape of a geometrical or nongeometrical figure, a
rate of rotation of a triangle, a relationship of symmetry
between two shapes, and on and on. The same model predicts the
behavior (as shown in Demo 2) in each case. I have shown
demonstrations of controlling the names of presidents (from a
chronologically- sorted list) and controlling the answer to an arithmetic
problem (to make it be the right answer, one less
than the right answer, etc.). If you have the budget, you can
supply different ways for the muscles to affect the perceptions
-- cranks, levers, push-buttons, steering wheels, guns,
computers, nuclear bombs, whatever. Figure out what perception
the person is controlling, disturb it, and measure the
parameters of control. Basically all you need is some ingenuity.
You don't have to lay out the whole hierarchy in order to
demonstrate how the model works for a single control process at
any level you please. Pick any perception a person can affect
with muscles. Get the person to pick a reference level for it.
Get the person to control it in the presence of disturbances (in
a constant state, please, to accomodate the experimenter). Match
the model to it and thereby measure the parameters.
In this process you may want to bring in some more sophisticated
mathematics than we simple pioneers use. You may want to
investigate control in Hamming spaces, control of logical
propositions or computer programs, or control of tensors or
chaotic states. Who knows what will prove appropriate? But as
long as you remember that motor outputs are being used to
control perceptions relative to reference levels, you'll be
using the same model and not letting in some other less
competent model, like SR theory which is always sneaking in by
the back door.
Maybe when the person isn't cooperating in a control experiment
he or she will go back to behaving in some other way. But I'll
bet a considerably chunk of my life (and have done so) that when
you've found all the different control processes you can, there
won't be much left over.
Of course what's left over will be very interesting.
Best to the Gangs,