"irrelevant side effects"

Tom Bourbon [941004.0945]

[Hans Blom, 941003]

SUBJECTS: "IRRELEVANT SIDE EFFECTS"; KARL POPPER

. . .

Your tasks in this assignment were twofold:

1. to show that the term "irrelevant side effects of control" is, within
  the theory of B:CP, selfcontradictory.

The hints were: a. irrelevant side effects can be perceived (from the
above sentence); b. irrelevant side effects are not controlled (by
definition); c. B:CP (axiom).

. . .

Except for the few of you who reacted immediately -- a reflex? --

Nah.

-- most of
you took sufficient time to think, taking my implicit suggestion that
there might be more to this task than meets the eye (figuratively speak-
ing, of course, in this context).

So far as I can tell, Hans, there _wasn't_ more to it than met the eye.
Your first assignment asked us to do the impossible, nothing more. :wink:

I am happy that all of you took this "inside" perspective: "irrelevant to
the ECU doing the controlling that leads to the side effects." But several
of you went further and noticed that, maybe, this picture was too limited.

Too limited? For what? To whom? Certainly not to the individual ECU doing
the controlling, and that's all that matters here. All of your subsequent
arguments turn on the notion that there might be other control systems in
the vicinity, with reference signals (p*) different from the p* of the first
ECU (ECUa), but none of that would in any way change the fact that side
effects irrelevant to ECUa when it is alone could remain irrelevant when it
has neighbors.

Each ECU (ECUa, ECUb, . . ., ECUn) controls its own perceptual signal (p)
keeping it at its own p* and in the process creating side effects irrelevant
to itself. If all of the ECUs are at the same level in a hierarchy, or if
each is an independent autonomous controller, then what is a side effect for
ECUa might well affect ECUb, by disturbing an environmental variable that
affects ECUb's controlled perception. If that happens, the additional
disturbance combines with all other disturbances on the variable
"controlled" by ECUb, which simply goes on controlling by eliminating the
effect of the net disturbance to its p. Nothing new there. Sometimes
disturbances overwhelm a controller. Nothing new there. Each ECU controls
its own p; side effects that are irrelevant to one ECU might add to the net
disturbances on perceptions of other ECUs, which simply go on about their
business of controlling, unless they are overwhelmed. If the disturbances
created as side effects irrelevant to control by ECUa help overwhelm ECUb,
that still leaves those side effects irrelevant to ECUa.

If some of the ECUs are at different levels in a hierarchy, as in a few of
the examples you mentioned in your post, then the interactions I described
above would be repeated at each level.

Whether at one level, or in a hierarchy, it is conceivable for side effects
that are irrelevant to perceptual control by any of the ECUs to have
deleterious effects on the ECUs themselves, but that still leaves the side
effects irrelevant to the ECU's control of p relative to p*. As some people
tell the story, aeons ago, anaerobic life forms went along their way
metabolizing in an oxygen-free, or oxygen-poor, environment; they controlled
beautifully. One of the irrelevant side effects of their control was the
production of a "pollutant," oxygen, that gave rise to an incredible period
during which almost everything that was free to do so became oxidized. When
that process was finished, free oxygen began to accumulate in the
atmosphere -- an irrelevant side effect of control by anaerobic life, even
though the atmospheric oxygen then began to oxidize the anaerobic creatures
that created it (if this story is correct).

What's new? :wink:

Later,

Tom