Negative feedback too simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.12.21]

[From Matti Kolu (2014.01.25.1430 CET)]
....
But I did find the "too simple" statement interesting. The same
objection seems to occasionally be raised against PCT. It was also
what Edward Ihnatowicz thought about his life-like robots, which he
created after first having dabbled with control systems and analogue
computers. "Negative feedback" does at a first glance seem trivial.
People who come in contact with e.g. servo-mechanisms often tend to
note the life-like effects that arise so easily... just to go on and
ignore that observation, because the underlying circuitry isn't
complicated enough.

This is something that is worth taking seriously by those who are
interested in promulgating the perceptual control perspective. It
seems to me that the objection can be neutralized or countered before
it arises in the mind of the reader or the audience member.

It is true that the _idea_ of negative feedback control is very simple. and may seem "too simple", and that this may be an aspect of the failure of PCT to be taken more seriously by the mainstream, despite that many researchers have studied negative feedback and even control as aspects of the way living things do what they do. It is also true that "control" is often confused with "negative feedback". All control systems are negative feedback systems, but lots of negative feedback systems are not control systems. The hard step is from from saying "negative feedback, and even control systems, are used by living things" to saying "control of input is the basis of all that life does". It is like taking the ornamentation off a building and using it to replace the foundation, and vice-versa.

But it is not true that the manifestations of negative feedback control are simple. Even Bill Powers asserted more than once that it was seldom easy to intuit what would happen when more than two control systems interacted, which was why he relied so heavily on simulation. Mathematical analysis of interacting linear systems is not too hard if there is no transport lag, but when you add transport lags and nonlinearities, the problems of getting an exact solution become more than most of us could handle, if there is any exact solution at all. As with Newtonian orbits, the solution is relatively easy when there are two orbiting bodies or interacting control systems, but not when there are three or more. Chaotic solutions abound, and where there is chaos there is complexity. It seems that most (all?) evolving systems approach the edge of chaos (where divergence is polynomial rather than exponential), whether they start in chaos or in predictable conditions. (I illustrated this conceptually for a PCT hierarchy with the "Bomb in the Machine" in 1992-3 (<http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/ParisTutorial.pdf> pp25-6 or <http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/DFS93/DFS93_8.html>).

On the other hand, one can argue the absolute necessity of negative feedback for life on thermodynamic grounds, which washes the complexities of exact solutions under the bridge. Control systems reduce the variability of parts of the environment by bringing corresponding perceptions to and keeping them near reference values. This stabilization is the thermodynamic equivalent of cooling, and it happens at the expense of warming (increasing the variability of) other aspects of the environment. Internally, it protects life-relevant variables from excessive variation that would occur if the environmental variables were not stabilized. The external "thermodynamically warming" effects are what we call side-effects.

I don't know how one gets this across to people untrained in basic physics, and who have a coherent set of ideas about how the brain works. For the last week TVOntario has been presenting every evening a series of programs about the mind and brain. Some were very good because they were quite dramatic demonstrations of what you can learn to do, though of course "reorganization" was never mentioned. But some, especially the daily debates among experts, were pretty bad, often discussing difficult problems that are not problems at all when seen as issues of controlling input.

In a 1971 paper, J.G.Taylor discussed "axioms" of psychology, truths that are taken for granted, and how they need to be changed in light of the importance of feedback systems. But changing the axioms that underpin a science is a radical step, hard to do without destroying a whole structure of interrelated explanations and derivations. Lobachewski and Reimann could try out the idea of denying the axiom that through any point not on a particular line there is exactly one line that does not meet the original if both are infinitely extended, but it took Einstein to consider that the axiom might not apply to the space in which we live, and a lot longer than Einstein's lifetime that for the truth to become generally accepted.

PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our actions and respond to what we perceive, by turning it inside out, saying we command our actions and control what we perceive. That's an easy thing to say, but an easy counter-answer is "OK, but so what?". All sorts of people have analyzed tracking studies by assuming people to act like servomechanisms. PCT isn't novel in that. What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth of the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein's relativity theory when a star could be observed to have shifted during an eclipse when it could be seen very near the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary orbits very well (except for the precession of Mercury). Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and correctly predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely accepted, it should explain some equivalent totally unexpected phenomenon that is hard to explain using the other axiom even after the fact. Don't ask me what that phenomenon might be:-)

Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have simple consequences.

Martin

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

There’s one small part I would like to seek clarification about. It is the last part of the first sentence of your penultimate paragraph:… we command our actions and control what we perceive

What happens when ‘to’ or ‘that’ is substituted for the conjunction ‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply independence of command and control, which may not be your intent.

Kind regards

···

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.12.21]

[From Matti Kolu (2014.01.25.1430 CET)]

But I did find the “too simple” statement interesting. The same

objection seems to occasionally be raised against PCT. It was also

what Edward Ihnatowicz thought about his life-like robots, which he

created after first having dabbled with control systems and analogue

computers. “Negative feedback” does at a first glance seem trivial.

People who come in contact with e.g. servo-mechanisms often tend to

note the life-like effects that arise so easily… just to go on and

ignore that observation, because the underlying circuitry isn’t

complicated enough.

This is something that is worth taking seriously by those who are

interested in promulgating the perceptual control perspective. It

seems to me that the objection can be neutralized or countered before

it arises in the mind of the reader or the audience member.

It is true that the idea of negative feedback control is very simple. and may seem “too simple”, and that this may be an aspect of the failure of PCT to be taken more seriously by the mainstream, despite that many researchers have studied negative feedback and even control as aspects of the way living things do what they do. It is also true that “control” is often confused with “negative feedback”. All control systems are negative feedback systems, but lots of negative feedback systems are not control systems. The hard step is from from saying “negative feedback, and even control systems, are used by living things” to saying “control of input is the basis of all that life does”. It is like taking the ornamentation off a building and using it to replace the foundation, and vice-versa.

But it is not true that the manifestations of negative feedback control are simple. Even Bill Powers asserted more than once that it was seldom easy to intuit what would happen when more than two control systems interacted, which was why he relied so heavily on simulation. Mathematical analysis of interacting linear systems is not too hard if there is no transport lag, but when you add transport lags and nonlinearities, the problems of getting an exact solution become more than most of us could handle, if there is any exact solution at all. As with Newtonian orbits, the solution is relatively easy when there are two orbiting bodies or interacting control systems, but not when there are three or more. Chaotic solutions abound, and where there is chaos there is complexity. It seems that most (all?) evolving systems approach the edge of chaos (where divergence is polynomial rather than exponential), whether they start in chaos or in predictable conditions. (I illustrated this conceptually for a PCT hierarchy with the “Bomb in the Machine” in 1992-3 (<http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/ParisTutorial.pdf> pp25-6 or <http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/DFS93/DFS93_8.html>).

On the other hand, one can argue the absolute necessity of negative feedback for life on thermodynamic grounds, which washes the complexities of exact solutions under the bridge. Control systems reduce the variability of parts of the environment by bringing corresponding perceptions to and keeping them near reference values. This stabilization is the thermodynamic equivalent of cooling, and it happens at the expense of warming (increasing the variability of) other aspects of the environment. Internally, it protects life-relevant variables from excessive variation that would occur if the environmental variables were not stabilized. The external “thermodynamically warming” effects are what we call side-effects.

I don’t know how one gets this across to people untrained in basic physics, and who have a coherent set of ideas about how the brain works. For the last week TVOntario has been presenting every evening a series of programs about the mind and brain. Some were very good because they were quite dramatic demonstrations of what you can learn to do, though of course “reorganization” was never mentioned. But some, especially the daily debates among experts, were pretty bad, often discussing difficult problems that are not problems at all when seen as issues of controlling input.

In a 1971 paper, J.G.Taylor discussed “axioms” of psychology, truths that are taken for granted, and how they need to be changed in light of the importance of feedback systems. But changing the axioms that underpin a science is a radical step, hard to do without destroying a whole structure of interrelated explanations and derivations. Lobachewski and Reimann could try out the idea of denying the axiom that through any point not on a particular line there is exactly one line that does not meet the original if both are infinitely extended, but it took Einstein to consider that the axiom might not apply to the space in which we live, and a lot longer than Einstein’s lifetime that for the truth to become generally accepted.

PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our actions and respond to what we perceive, by turning it inside out, saying we command our actions and control what we perceive. That’s an easy thing to say, but an easy counter-answer is “OK, but so what?”. All sorts of people have analyzed tracking studies by assuming people to act like servomechanisms. PCT isn’t novel in that. What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth of the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein’s relativity theory when a star could be observed to have shifted during an eclipse when it could be seen very near the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary orbits very well (except for the precession of Mercury). Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and correctly predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely accepted, it should explain some equivalent totally unexpected phenomenon that is hard to explain using the other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what that phenomenon might be:-)

Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have simple consequences.

Martin

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.14.00]

Thanks.

“to” is a considerable improvement on what I wrote. If I could edit
my posting in retrospect, I would.
Thanks again.
Martin

···

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

        There's one small part I would like to seek clarification

about. It is the last part of the first sentence of your
penultimate paragraph:… we command our actions and control
what we perceive

      What happens when 'to' or 'that' is substituted for the

conjunction ‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply
independence of command and control, which may not be your
intent.

Kind regards

      On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Martin

Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net
wrote:

        [Martin

Taylor 2014.01.25.12.21]

        PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our

actions and respond to what we perceive, by turning it
inside out, saying we command our actions [and ]
to control what we perceive. That’s an easy thing to
say, but an easy counter-answer is “OK, but so what?”. All
sorts of people have analyzed tracking studies by assuming
people to act like servomechanisms. PCT isn’t novel in that.
What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth of
the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein’s
relativity theory when a star could be observed to have
shifted during an eclipse when it could be seen very near
the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein
predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary
orbits very well (except for the precession of Mercury).
Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and correctly
predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely
accepted, it should explain some equivalent totally
unexpected phenomenon that is hard to explain using the
other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what that
phenomenon might be:-)

        Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have

simple consequences.

            Martin

[From Fred Nickols (01.25.2014.1441 EST)]

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

Fred Nickols

···

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

        There's one small part I would like to seek clarification

about. It is the last part of the first sentence of your
penultimate paragraph:… we command our actions and control
what we perceive

      What happens when 'to' or 'that' is substituted for the

conjunction ‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply
independence of command and control, which may not be your
intent.

Kind regards

      On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Martin

Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net
wrote:

        [Martin

Taylor 2014.01.25.12.21]

        PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our

actions and respond to what we perceive, by turning it
inside out, saying we command our actions [and ]
to control what we perceive. That’s an easy thing to
say, but an easy counter-answer is “OK, but so what?”. All
sorts of people have analyzed tracking studies by assuming
people to act like servomechanisms. PCT isn’t novel in that.
What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth of
the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein’s
relativity theory when a star could be observed to have
shifted during an eclipse when it could be seen very near
the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein
predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary
orbits very well (except for the precession of Mercury).
Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and correctly
predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely
accepted, it should explain some equivalent totally
unexpected phenomenon that is hard to explain using the
other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what that
phenomenon might be:-)

        Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have

simple consequences.

            Martin

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.16.30]

Those are not exclusive. They are the same thing. Setting a

reference condition is to command the value of a perception. So the
answer is “Yes”. I thought it more dramatic and a better use of
everyday speech to use “command”. Eventually, a muscle fibre takes
on a certain tension, a tension that is perceived and comes to be
near its commanded reference value.
Yes. Both.
Martin’

···

[From Fred Nickols (01.25.2014.1441 EST)]

    Do we "command our actions" or do we set reference

conditions?

    I just took a sip of beer. Did I "command" all the behaviors

involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced
a gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

Fred Nickols

    Sent from my iPad
    On Jan 25, 2014, at 14:03, Martin Taylor <mmt-csg@MMTAYLOR.NET        >

wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.14.00]

      Thanks.

“to” is a considerable improvement on what I wrote. If I could
edit my posting in retrospect, I would.
Thanks again.
Martin

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

              There's one small part I would like to seek

clarification about. It is the last part of the first
sentence of your penultimate paragraph:… we command
our actions and control what we perceive

            What happens when 'to' or 'that' is substituted for the

conjunction ‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply
independence of command and control, which may not be
your intent.

Kind regards

            On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM,

Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net
wrote:

              [Martin

Taylor 2014.01.25.12.21]

              PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control

our actions and respond to what we perceive, by
turning it inside out, saying we command our actions [and ]
to control what we perceive. That’s an easy
thing to say, but an easy counter-answer is “OK, but
so what?”. All sorts of people have analyzed tracking
studies by assuming people to act like
servomechanisms. PCT isn’t novel in that. What is
novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth of
the implications of that shift. People believed
Einstein’s relativity theory when a star could be
observed to have shifted during an eclipse when it
could be seen very near the sun, and to have shifted
by exactly the amount Einstein predicted. Ptolemy and
Newton both predicted planetary orbits very well
(except for the precession of Mercury). Einstein
viewed spce and tiem differently, and correctly
predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely
accepted, it should explain some equivalent totally
unexpected phenomenon that is hard to explain using
the other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what
that phenomenon might be:-)

              Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does

not have simple consequences.

                  Martin

FN:

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference
conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the
behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a
gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

HB :

It’s hard for me to understand what you
meant with “command”. If you thought on how you can
“control” the exact “amount” of signal (impulses) sent to
the muscle, so to exactly do what you wanted, then my answer is NO. You can’t
“command” your muscle" to do exactly what you wanted to do.

I see it as difference between
“control of behavior” and “control of perception”.

By my oppinion you can control only
perception, so reducing “a gap”. That’s the only way you can determine
what effect happened with the muscle tension. Actions, behavior are consequences
of “reducing the gap”, just means of control. Even if you know for
the amount of the “error” you will never know how much muscle tension
it really produces, so to say that you “command” the muscle to do
exctla what you wanted to do. Go and try one sport that you haven’t done. You
can see the sport on video and try to imitate the movements. Control will be
awfull. Until you get right perceptions what impulses were sent to muscles and
correct the perceptual “error”, nothing important will happen.

I don’t know the way how could you know
for the exact amount of impulses send to the muscle, so to produce a certain
tension or command the muscle, to do exactly what you wanted to do. If we could
do exactly what we wanted to do, so to command muscels or actions then you
would have no problems go to a tennis field and “shoot” all balls to
a wanted point in the field. How unexact human movements are (trials and
errors) you can see it on your own eyes when walking, talking… Even when
you are talking are sure that tongue produce voices that you exactly wanted ?. By
my oppinion : better control of perception (focus), better movements.

By my oppinion all is perception. Beer is
perception and muscle tension is perception. If perception is wrong you will
not control anything, no matter how “exactly” you “command”
muscles to move to grab the bear. If you are drunk enough, you can try to grab
the bottle. The perception is quite affected (maybe you’ll see 2 bottles) and
comparing also. Whatever you are aware of is only perception. If I ever come to
America, we can try it together J.

But it could be that I didin’t understand
something right.

Best,

Boris

···

From: Control Systems Group
Network (CSGnet) [mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU] On Behalf Of Fred Nickols
Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014
8:46 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[From Fred Nickols (01.25.2014.1441 EST)]

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference
conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the
behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a
gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

Fred Nickols

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 25, 2014, at 14:03, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@MMTAYLOR.NET wrote:

[Martin Taylor
2014.01.25.14.00]

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

Thanks.

There’s one small part I
would like to seek clarification about. It is the last part of the first
sentence of your penultimate paragraph:… we command our actions and control
what we perceive

What happens when ‘to’ or ‘that’ is substituted for the conjunction
‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply independence of command and
control, which may not be your intent.

“to” is a considerable improvement on what I wrote. If I could edit
my posting in retrospect, I would.

Thanks again.

Martin

Kind regards

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net > wrote:

[Martin Taylor
2014.01.25.12.21]
PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our actions and respond to
what we perceive, by turning it inside out, saying we command our actions [and] to
control what we perceive. That’s an easy thing to say, but an easy
counter-answer is “OK, but so what?”. All sorts of people have
analyzed tracking studies by assuming people to act like servomechanisms. PCT
isn’t novel in that. What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth
of the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein’s relativity theory
when a star could be observed to have shifted during an eclipse when it could
be seen very near the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein
predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary orbits very well (except
for the precession of Mercury). Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and
correctly predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely accepted, it
should explain some equivalent totally unexpected phenomenon that is hard to
explain using the other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what that
phenomenon might be:-)

Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have simple
consequences.

Martin

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7032 - Release Date: 01/25/14

[From Fred Nickols (2014.01.26.0731 EST)]

Not to worry, Boris. I was simply questioning Martin’s use of the word “command” in an earlier post. I think you and I are on the same page. See Martin’s response to me.

Fred Nickols

···

From: Boris Hartman [mailto:boris.hartman@MASICOM.NET]
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014 6:24 AM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

FN:

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

HB :

It’s hard for me to understand what you meant with “command”. If you thought on how you can “control” the exact “amount” of signal (impulses) sent to the muscle, so to exactly do what you wanted, then my answer is NO. You can’t “command” your muscle" to do exactly what you wanted to do.

I see it as difference between “control of behavior” and “control of perception”.

By my oppinion you can control only perception, so reducing “a gap”. That’s the only way you can determine what effect happened with the muscle tension. Actions, behavior are consequences of “reducing the gap”, just means of control. Even if you know for the amount of the “error” you will never know how much muscle tension it really produces, so to say that you “command” the muscle to do exctla what you wanted to do. Go and try one sport that you haven’t done. You can see the sport on video and try to imitate the movements. Control will be awfull. Until you get right perceptions what impulses were sent to muscles and correct the perceptual “error”, nothing important will happen.

I don’t know the way how could you know for the exact amount of impulses send to the muscle, so to produce a certain tension or command the muscle, to do exactly what you wanted to do. If we could do exactly what we wanted to do, so to command muscels or actions then you would have no problems go to a tennis field and “shoot” all balls to a wanted point in the field. How unexact human movements are (trials and errors) you can see it on your own eyes when walking, talking… Even when you are talking are sure that tongue produce voices that you exactly wanted ?. By my oppinion : better control of perception (focus), better movements.

By my oppinion all is perception. Beer is perception and muscle tension is perception. If perception is wrong you will not control anything, no matter how “exactly” you “command” muscles to move to grab the bear. If you are drunk enough, you can try to grab the bottle. The perception is quite affected (maybe you’ll see 2 bottles) and comparing also. Whatever you are aware of is only perception. If I ever come to America, we can try it together J.

But it could be that I didin’t understand something right.

Best,

Boris


From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet) [mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU] On Behalf Of Fred Nickols
Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014 8:46 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[From Fred Nickols (01.25.2014.1441 EST)]

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

Fred Nickols

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 25, 2014, at 14:03, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@MMTAYLOR.NET wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.14.00]

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

Thanks.

There’s one small part I would like to seek clarification about. It is the last part of the first sentence of your penultimate paragraph:… we command our actions and control what we perceive

What happens when ‘to’ or ‘that’ is substituted for the conjunction ‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply independence of command and control, which may not be your intent.

“to” is a considerable improvement on what I wrote. If I could edit my posting in retrospect, I would.

Thanks again.

Martin

Kind regards

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.25.12.21]
PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our actions and respond to what we perceive, by turning it inside out, saying we command our actions [and] to control what we perceive. That’s an easy thing to say, but an easy counter-answer is “OK, but so what?”. All sorts of people have analyzed tracking studies by assuming people to act like servomechanisms. PCT isn’t novel in that. What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth of the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein’s relativity theory when a star could be observed to have shifted during an eclipse when it could be seen very near the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary orbits very well (except for the precession of Mercury). Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and correctly predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely accepted, it should explain some equivalent totally unexpected phenomenon that is hard to explain using the other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what that phenomenon might be:-)

Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have simple consequences.

Martin

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7032 - Release Date: 01/25/14

Hi Fred,

sorry to bother you J. I see now the extension
of the posts. I have so little time…so I read the shortest texts. And
there are misunderstings. But I’m glad that we are on “the same page”…J.

Best,

Boris

···

From: Control Systems Group
Network (CSGnet) [mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU] On Behalf Of Fred Nickols
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014
1:33 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[From Fred Nickols
(2014.01.26.0731 EST)]

Not to worry,
Boris. I was simply questioning Martin’s use of the word
“command” in an earlier post. I think you and I are on the
same page. See Martin’s response to me.

Fred Nickols

From:
Boris
Hartman [mailto:boris.hartman@MASICOM.NET]
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014
6:24 AM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

FN:

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference
conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the
behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a
gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

HB :

It’s hard for me to understand what you
meant with “command”. If you thought on how you can
“control” the exact “amount” of signal (impulses) sent to
the muscle, so to exactly do what you wanted, then my answer is NO. You can’t
“command” your muscle" to do exactly what you wanted to do.

I see it as difference between
“control of behavior” and “control of perception”.

By my oppinion you can control only
perception, so reducing “a gap”. That’s the only way you can
determine what effect happened with the muscle tension. Actions, behavior are
consequences of “reducing the gap”, just means of control. Even if
you know for the amount of the “error” you will never know how much
muscle tension it really produces, so to say that you “command” the
muscle to do exctla what you wanted to do. Go and try one sport that you
haven’t done. You can see the sport on video and try to imitate the movements.
Control will be awfull. Until you get right perceptions what impulses were sent
to muscles and correct the perceptual “error”, nothing important will
happen.

I don’t know the way how could you know
for the exact amount of impulses send to the muscle, so to produce a certain
tension or command the muscle, to do exactly what you wanted to do. If we could
do exactly what we wanted to do, so to command muscels or actions then you
would have no problems go to a tennis field and “shoot” all balls to
a wanted point in the field. How unexact human movements are (trials and
errors) you can see it on your own eyes when walking, talking… Even when
you are talking are sure that tongue produce voices that you exactly wanted ?.
By my oppinion : better control of perception (focus), better movements.

By my oppinion all is perception. Beer is
perception and muscle tension is perception. If perception is wrong you will
not control anything, no matter how “exactly” you “command”
muscles to move to grab the bear. If you are drunk enough, you can try to grab
the bottle. The perception is quite affected (maybe you’ll see 2 bottles) and
comparing also. Whatever you are aware of is only perception. If I ever come to
America, we can try it together J.

But it could be that I didin’t understand
something right.

Best,

Boris


From: Control Systems Group
Network (CSGnet) [mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU]
On Behalf Of Fred Nickols
Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014
8:46 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[From Fred Nickols (01.25.2014.1441 EST)]

Do we “command our actions” or do we set reference
conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I “command” all the
behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act in ways that reduced a
gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

Fred Nickols

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 25, 2014, at 14:03, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@MMTAYLOR.NET wrote:

[Martin Taylor
2014.01.25.14.00]

[John Kirkland 2014 01 26]

I appreciate you comments and observations Martin.

Thanks.

There’s one small part I
would like to seek clarification about. It is the last part of the first
sentence of your penultimate paragraph:… we command our actions and control
what we perceive

What happens when ‘to’ or ‘that’ is substituted for the conjunction
‘and’? If I might, the ‘and’ may imply independence of command and
control, which may not be your intent.

“to” is a considerable improvement on what I wrote. If I could edit
my posting in retrospect, I would.

Thanks again.

Martin

Kind regards

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net > wrote:

[Martin Taylor
2014.01.25.12.21]
PCT changes an axiom of psychology, that we control our actions and respond to
what we perceive, by turning it inside out, saying we command our actions [and] to
control what we perceive. That’s an easy thing to say, but an easy
counter-answer is “OK, but so what?”. All sorts of people have
analyzed tracking studies by assuming people to act like servomechanisms. PCT
isn’t novel in that. What is novel is the shift of the axiom, and the breadth
of the implications of that shift. People believed Einstein’s relativity theory
when a star could be observed to have shifted during an eclipse when it could
be seen very near the sun, and to have shifted by exactly the amount Einstein
predicted. Ptolemy and Newton both predicted planetary orbits very well (except
for the precession of Mercury). Einstein viewed spce and tiem differently, and
correctly predicted the orbit of Mercury. For PCT to be widely accepted, it
should explain some equivalent totally unexpected phenomenon that is hard to
explain using the other axiom even after the fact. Don’t ask me what that
phenomenon might be:-)

Negative feedback may be a simple idea, but it does not have simple
consequences.

Martin

No
virus found in this message.

Checked by AVG - www.avg.com

Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7032 - Release Date: 01/25/14

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Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7033 - Release Date: 01/25/14

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.26.09.03]

···

FN:

              Do we "command our actions" or do we set

reference
conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I
“command” all the
behaviors involved in that action or did I simply act
in ways that reduced a
gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

HB :

              It's hard for me

to understand what you
meant with “command”. If you thought on how you can
“control” the exact “amount” of signal (impulses) sent
to
the muscle, so to exactly do what you wanted, then my
answer is NO. You can’t
“command” your muscle" to do exactly what you wanted
to do.

      My

understanding of the words “Command” and “control” is that if
you command someone to do something, they may do it or
something like it, but if you control them it will happen as
you wish. Just like setting reference conditions (commanding)
and controlling perceptions (controlling).

      Martin

Knowing you Martin and your understanding
of PCT, I beleive that clarification of the terms they were used is O.K. J

Best,

Boris

···

From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU] On
Behalf Of
Martin
Taylor
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014
3:07 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[ Martin
Taylor 2014.01.26.09.03]

FN:

Do we “command our actions” or do we set
reference conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I
“command” all the behaviors involved in that action or did I simply
act in ways that reduced a gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

HB :

It’s hard for me to understand what you
meant with “command”. If you thought on how you can
“control” the exact “amount” of signal (impulses) sent to
the muscle, so to exactly do what you wanted, then my answer is NO. You can’t
“command” your muscle" to do exactly what you wanted to do.

My
understanding of the words “Command” and “control” is that
if you command someone to do something, they may do it or something like it,
but if you control them it will happen as you wish. Just like setting reference
conditions (commanding) and controlling perceptions (controlling).

Martin

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7033 - Release Date: 01/25/14

You guys are basically trying to establish the difference between the control of perception and the control of behavior. But behavior is the control of perception and so the control of behavior is the control of the control of perception. So what’s this all about?

The exchange of the terms command, communication, perception, behavior etc won’t clarify much of anything. After all, these terms are basically the same thing : we are looking at the behavior of a perceptual signal in the brain and figuring out how to communicate command statements to establish a negative feedback condition which stabilizes the behavior of the perceptual signal. Now when you command yourself to take a sip of the beer, you will have to eventually acquaint yourself with the inevitability of the ensuing conscious experience. You don’t just say: I’m going to take a sip of beer, and then drift into a realm of unconsciousness with no perception, and then, at a later time remember that you’ve sipped the beer. No, no, that sort of experience would make no sense. As soon as you engage in behavior, you will feel every single feeling you focus on and you will remember these feelings for at least a short while - until you’ve tried to focus on so many different things at once that your working memory is exhausted and you are forced to come to terms with the fact that your brain has limited conscious capacity. Here you will have encountered the need to group related variables together and establish hierarchical classes of controlled perceptions. Most people, however, do not max out their conscious capacity with the task of sipping a beer. When consciousness is discussed in the context of PCT, it is equated to the reorganizing process - the reorganization of existing control systems to do new things. How often is this reorganization necessary? How quickly (at what rate) could the process of reorganization theoretically take place. In many experiments, pct researchers have shown that higher classes of perceptions take more time to control. Since we now know to expect this, we should consider the reorganization process as something to be optimized. Optimizing the hierarchy is easy, once the task is defined, since Bill articulately identified what the perceptual classes are. What is not easy is to understand is the ease with which a human

can decide at one moment to take a sip of beer, and then at the next moment to do something totally different - like drive a car. We always discuss: how is it possible to sip the beer. We say: well, if only the difference between the perceptual variables (position of cup, position of mouth) and the reference variable (distance of cup to mouth) was zero, then it would happen. But then we remind ourselves, well the reference doesn’t NEED to be zero. I could, for example, splash the beer into my check. It would be no problem at all - all I need to do is set the reference (distance of cup to mouth) to the value of 2 inches to the left or right and I could easily get it done. But why stop there, what if I changed to reference to 10 miles away and threw my cup at the wall. Then, after realizing the 10 mile distance has not been realized, I retrieve all the broken shards and drive them to a suitable distance and then drive back to my original location. Could anyone prove that I’ve been mistaken? Could anyone tell me that my actions were incorrect - that I had not actually done the correct thing in the absolute sense of the word? Well let’s look at it this way. I may think that all I’ve done is to set my reference. I decided to set it to 10 miles away. And then I made absolutely sure that I carried out my task. I did not hesitate to do it, nor did I care about the cops in pursuit of me as I drove. I just drove 10 miles away and did the deed. Nobody is going to change my intention, NOBODY. Even if the cops take me to jail for drunk driving I’ll escape and find the shards of glass and take them to their time-invariant reference location - 10 miles away from where I was sitting at the bar. How do we understand this task without having me repeatedly stress the fact that my reference is defined and it is not changing no matter what environmental change occurs, whether we consider the emotional environment in my head, with thoughts swirling every which way, or the physical environment consisting of variables like the rate of approach of oncoming police vehicles. How could we reinterpret this entire situation as a single event, as a single control task.
So perception is maintained at a predefined reference condition, the difference between reference and perception converging to 0 at the end of the control behavior. The reference must always be zero. If you do not reduce it to zero, then you have not analyzed the task properly. In the situation above, we should imagine that a mess of events will result and the 10 mile distance will probably never be reached, especially since repeated, probably unsuccessful jail escapes are projected to occur. All because of a stupid decision - not a rash choice happening in a mere instant, but a stubbornly sustained intention with full blown control behavior at work.

Several concepts of conflict are essential to consider here. Why did the glass break against the wall and not pass through it, at least making the carrying of shards unecessary? Perhaps I should have stepped near a window before throwing the glass away. But why does gravity pull things down to earth - perhaps to prevent me from throwing them 10 miles away? Also, how do I lose these damn cops! They have brains and take hairpin turns with skill and precision - why couldn’t they just crash like they always do in the movies?!

Notice how conflict is all external here. We see walls and gravity. And we see humans too, cops. These cops are not necessarily aware of your intention, it just turns out that theirs seem to be in conflict with yours - the faster you attempt approach your destination, the more they want to take you to jail.

What is not present here is internal conflict. You are not changing your own mind. In fact, you are actively maintaining your intention. Whenever you think about pulling over, you immediately destroy the thought and keep barreling down the road.

Who here can identify that the controlled variable here is the actual purpose of my behavior? Who here realizes that this is a task of reducing the difference between the perception of my old reference of “glass to mouth” and the perception of my new reference as “glass 10 miles away” to 0.

···

On Sunday, January 26, 2014, Boris Hartman boris.hartman@masicom.net wrote:

Knowing you Martin and your understanding
of PCT, I beleive that clarification of the terms they were used is O.K. J

Best,

Boris


From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU] On
Behalf Of
Martin
Taylor
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014
3:07 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital Archive)

[ Martin
Taylor 2014.01.26.09.03]

FN:

Do we “command our actions” or do we set
reference conditions? I just took a sip of beer. Did I
“command” all the behaviors involved in that action or did I simply
act in ways that reduced a gap between a reference condition and my perceptions?

HB :

It’s hard for me to understand what you
meant with “command”. If you thought on how you can
“control” the exact “amount” of signal (impulses) sent to
the muscle, so to exactly do what you wanted, then my answer is NO. You can’t
“command” your muscle" to do exactly what you wanted to do.

My
understanding of the words “Command” and “control” is that
if you command someone to do something, they may do it or something like it,
but if you control them it will happen as you wish. Just like setting reference
conditions (commanding) and controlling perceptions (controlling).

Martin

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7033 - Release Date: 01/25/14

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.26.16.53]

Philip, Welcome to the discussion. It sounds as though you will

provoke some interesting threads. But there is one point of protocol
that makes discussion just a little easier. We like to head every
message with an ID stamp so we can refer back to it in months or
years to come. The format is as my stamp at the head of this
message: your name (however you want to identify yourself, short
being easier to write) followed by the time in international format
(yyyy.mm.dd.hh.mm). There are people from all continents on this
mailing list, and most of the world does not use the US way of
identifying the data, which is why we use the international format.

Now to your message.

[MT] That's an unusual take on PCT, isn't it? If you have read Bill

Powers’s main book (Behaviour, the control of perception), you know
that the issue isn’t that at all. Bill spends some time pointing out
a control systems (of any kind) can control only what it observes of
the “plant”. A thermostat, for example, is set so that it commands a
furnace to turn on if the temperature it senses is lower than its
set point. It controls the temperature it senses, not the output of
the furnace. If the furnace doesn’t turn on when commanded. the
thermostat can do nothing about it – nor can it control the
temperature it senses. It’s not controlling the furnace by sending
the switch-on signal (behaviour). The furnace does whatever it does
when the signal to switch on comes from the thermostat. And it’s not
controlling the switch-on signal because that’s just something that
happens when the temperature goes below the set point (reference
value).
[MT] The point is that any control system controls only a sensed
variable, that we call technically a “perception” or “perceptual
signal”. It is indeed possible to control the behaviour of a control
system, but it takes a separate system to do it. This second system
has some way of sensing and influencing the behaviour of the first
system, and controls what it senses by acting top change the
behaviour of the first system. Doing so may well (probably will)
interfere with the ability of the first system to control its sensed
variable, because if the second system is controlling the behaviour
of the first, the first can’t change its behaviour in a way
appropriate to influence its own sensed variable.
[MT] Hardly!!!
[MT] You use the terms in a variety of ways. It doesn’t help the
argument (though it may confuse the debating opposition sufficiently
for you to win a debate) to do that. The “behaviour” of a control
system is not the “behaviour” of its perceptual signal. An analyst
might “figure out” how to communicate command statements, but the
control system does not. It just produces output; that output is its
only “behaviour”. If the output is connected to its environment in a
particular functional way, the “behaviour” can be a “command”. The
functional connection is what needs to be defined, and in a control
hierarchy the functional relationship is that the output influences
either the reference values of one or more other control systems, or
the physical environment directly. Only if it does one of those
things is the output a “command”.
[MT] I do. But then I guess I’m peculiar. Remember that in PCT, the
word “perception” has a technical meaning that includes the everyday
meaning of the word – something of which you are conscious – but
also includes much of which you are not conscious, and perhaps of
which you are unable to become conscious without considerable
training of the kind skilled athletes and performers do.
[MT] Why not?
[MT] There’s the key: “that you focus on”. The word “feel” also is a
bit odd in this context. Is it equivalent to “perceive”, which
allows for unconscious feeling, or is it to be defined as referring
only to consciousness? And what is “focus” in this context? Usually
it means at least “being conscious of” and perhaps a bit more,
because one is usually at least marginally conscious of more than
what one is focussed on. When I take a sip of beer, I certainly
don’t focus on all the muscular tensions that are involved. I’m more
likely to focus on what my friend across the table is saying, and
not be conscious at all of sipping the beer or of any of its
required controlled perceptions – at least until I spill it because
I wasn’t focussing on it.
[MT] Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It remains a bit of a mystery,
rather outside of PCT, though various people have talked about
different possibilities for where conscious experience might tie
into PCT. Personally, I think consciousness relates to situations in
which control is poor or impossible. There’s a correlation between
these situations and the likelihood of reorganization, but it’s not
a tight correlation. But that’s just my personal guess today, and
something I think of tomorrow may change it. At present it simply
isn’t an aspect of PCT, because there’s no science associated with
it.
[MT] Reorganization builds new control systems as well as changing
the linkages of existing ones. The details of the reorganization
mechanism is an active area of research. Bill Powers developed an
algorithm based on his idea of how the e-coli bacterium approaches
an optimum environment, but though this could be simulated, the
physiological mechanism was always insecure or undefined. Also
undefined was the degree of modularity of the reorganizing process
within the control hierarchy. As for “how often” reorganization
happens, one way of looking at it, since it is considered to be a
probabilistic process, is that it is always happening. [MT] Microseconds to decades. Reorganization events probably happen
every time a neuron fires, but whether they have any overt effect
will depend totally on the physiological and functional context of
each event. An overt reorganization even may be as subtle as a
slight improvement in your accuracy in throwing a dart, or as large
as the conversion on the road to Damascus. It’s rather like the size
of the sandpile avalanche that is sometimes used to illustrate
fractal phenomena.
[MT] How do you get from “Bill defined what the perceptual classes
are” (he didn’t, by the way) to “Optimizing the hierarchy is easy”?
[MT] This is something with which I can agree. It hasn’t been well
dealt with in my 20+ years of discussing and reading about PCT. It’s
a good research topic, or should be.
[MT] No, and most of the time, most reference values are not,
because they are continually changing as a consequence of control at
higher levels. To take a trivial example, a disturbance at level 3
is opposed by an output of the level 3 controller. That output
influences several level 2 reference values, which changes the error
values and thus the outputs of those level 2 controllers. Those
level 2 outputs affect the reference values of level 1 control
units. Their changing output affect things in the physical
environment, which is what actually implements the “opposing” of the
level 3 disturbance. As the level 3 error is reduced by this
opposition, its output changes, changing the level 2 reference
values, and so forth, all of this happening simultaneously
throughout the hierarchy. So no, a reference does not need to be
zero, and most are not.
[MT] Why not? Suppose you had a higher-level control unit that
controlled a perception that your wife was happy with you, and she
said “If you don’t throw those shards in the trash here and now, I’m
going to be very angry”. Would that not perhaps alter your reference
value for where the shards should go? Or would you cease controlling
the perception of your wife being happy with you?
[MT] How would we not? Isn’t that exactly the way you define it?
[MT] No. Reference values are hardly ever zero. See above. I think
you are actually talking about the error value, which tends to zero
if control is good.
[MT] Not as you defined it, because you refer always only to a
single control system, the one with a reference value to put the
shards 10 miles away. Internal conflict occurs only when you have
two control systems in teh same body that can’t both bring their
error values to zero. That’s why I brought in the “happy wife”
control unit.
[MT] Only you.
[MT] However, the Test for the Controlled Variable is applicable in
the case of a strongly maintained intention, even if the reference
value changes over time. Check out some of Rick Marken’s demos for
explanations, if your version of Java in your browser permits it.
It might be difficult to use the
TCV to find such an esoteric purpose as you describe, but the
disturbances you also describe would be appropriate ones to use if
the analyst had guessed an intention correlated with the actual one.
Martin

···

On 2014/01/26 3:37 PM, PHILIP JERAIR
YERANOSIAN wrote:

  You guys are basically trying to establish the

difference between the control of perception and the control of
behavior.

  But behavior is the control of perception and so the

control of behavior is the control of the control of perception.
So what’s this all about?

    The exchange of the terms command, communication, perception,

behavior etc won’t clarify much of anything. After all, these
terms are basically the same thing :

    we are looking at the behavior of a perceptual signal in the

brain and figuring out how to communicate command statements to
establish a negative feedback condition which stabilizes the
behavior of the perceptual signal.

    Now when you command yourself to take a sip of the beer, you

will have to eventually acquaint yourself with the
inevitability of the ensuing conscious experience. You don’t
just say: I’m going to take a sip of beer, and then drift into a
realm of unconsciousness with no perception, and then, at a
later time remember that you’ve sipped the beer.

No, no, that sort of experience would make no sense.

    As soon as you engage in behavior, you will feel every

single feeling you focus on

    ...When consciousness is discussed in the context of PCT, it

is equated to the reorganizing process

    - the reorganization of existing control systems to do new

things. How often is this reorganization necessary?

    How quickly (at what rate) could the process of

reorganization theoretically take place.

    In many experiments, pct researchers have shown that higher

classes of perceptions take more time to control. Since we
now know to expect this, we should consider the reorganization
process as something to be optimized. Optimizing the hierarchy
is easy, once the task is defined, since Bill articulately
identified what the perceptual classes are.

    What is not easy is to understand is the ease with which a

human

  can decide at one moment to take a sip of beer, and then at the

next moment to do something totally different - like drive a car.

  We always discuss: how is it possible to sip the

beer. We say: well, if only the difference between the perceptual
variables (position of cup, position of mouth) and the reference
variable (distance of cup to mouth) was zero, then it
would happen. But then we remind ourselves, well the reference
doesn’t NEED to be zero.

  I could, for example, splash the beer into my check.

It would be no problem at all - all I need to do is set the
reference (distance of cup to mouth) to the value of 2 inches to
the left or right and I could easily get it done. But why stop
there, what if I changed to reference to 10 miles away and threw
my cup at the wall. Then, after realizing the 10 mile distance has
not been realized, I retrieve all the broken shards and drive them
to a suitable distance and then drive back to my original
location. Could anyone prove that I’ve been mistaken? Could anyone
tell me that my actions were incorrect - that I had not actually
done the correct thing in the absolute sense of the word? Well
let’s look at it this way. I may think that all I’ve done is
to set my reference. I decided to set it to 10 miles away. And
then I made absolutely sure that I carried out my task. I did not
hesitate to do it, nor did I care about the cops in pursuit of me
as I drove. I just drove 10 miles away and did the deed. Nobody is
going to change my intention, NOBODY.

  Even if the cops take me to jail for drunk

driving I’ll escape and find the shards of glass and take them to
their time-invariant reference location - 10 miles away from where
I was sitting at the bar. How do we understand this task without
having me repeatedly stress the fact that my reference is defined
and it is not changing no matter what environmental change occurs,
whether we consider the emotional environment in my head, with
thoughts swirling every which way, or the physical environment
consisting of variables like the rate of approach of oncoming
police vehicles. How could we reinterpret this entire situation as
a single event, as a single control task.

    So perception is maintained at a predefined reference condition,

the difference between reference and perception converging to 0
at the end of the control behavior. The reference must always be
zero.

What is not present here is internal conflict.

    You are not changing your own mind. In fact, you are actively

maintaining your intention. Whenever you think about pulling
over, you immediately destroy the thought and keep barreling
down the road.

    Who here can identify that the controlled variable here is

the actual purpose of my behavior? Who here realizes that this
is a task of reducing the difference between the perception
of my old reference of “glass to mouth” and the perception of my
new reference as “glass 10 miles away” to 0.

http://www.mindreadings.com

            On Sunday, January 26, 2014, Boris Hartman <boris.hartman@masicom.net                >

wrote:

                        Knowing

you Martin and your understanding
of PCT, I beleive that clarification of the
terms they were used is O.K. J

Best,

Boris


From:
Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU ]
** On
Behalf Of** Martin Taylor
Sent:
Sunday, January 26, 2014
3:07 PM
To:
CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject:
Re: Negative feedback too
simple (was Re: W. Ross Ashby: Digital
Archive)

                        [Martin Taylor

2014.01.26.09.03]

FN:

                            Do we "command

our actions" or do we set
reference conditions? I just took a sip
of beer. Did I
“command” all the behaviors involved in
that action or did I simply
act in ways that reduced a gap between a
reference condition and my perceptions?

                            HB

:

                            It's

hard for me to understand what you
meant with “command”. If you thought on
how you can
“control” the exact “amount” of signal
(impulses) sent to
the muscle, so to exactly do what you
wanted, then my answer is NO. You can’t
“command” your muscle" to do exactly
what you wanted to do.

                        My

understanding
of the words “Command” and “control” is that
if you command someone to do something, they
may do it or something like it,
but if you control them it will happen as
you wish. Just like setting reference
conditions (commanding) and controlling
perceptions (controlling).

                        Martin
                No virus found in this

message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4259 / Virus Database: 3681/7033 -
Release Date: 01/25/14

[Philip 2014.01.26.16.55]
I accidentally sent this to myself earlier instead of CSG. Pretend I said this after where I left off and see if anything is clarified

Control of the reference perception occurs independently of whether or not the external reality will ultimately be matched to the reference. In other words, there is no automatic mechanism which error checks the universe and guides you against rash decisions based off perceptions or references which you don’t have yourself. You will not be prevented from changing your intention because of some universal constant or invariant. The laws of thermodynamics will not prevent you from becoming conscious and then literally controlling the perception you are controlling, thus controlling your behavior in its entirety.

Once consciousness is realized, you can make the purpose of your behavior whatever you want it to be, because the control loop is totally internal. The loop is closed inside the brain. It doesn’t depend at all on environmental conditions or evolutionary history or anything. That’s what makes you able to maintain a conscious awareness of the task at hand irrespective of anything else which has happened or will happen in the entire universe.

Anything can be a perceptual variable, even the reference perception itself. Consciousness is the controlled perception of the purpose of behavior (i.e. the reference value). Powers defined consciousness as the perception and awareness of the perception. But that is a redundant definition. We should realize that control over the reference condition is the proper definition.

I arrived at this conclusion over 6 months ago. Since then I had to strengthen the mathematical basis of PCT in order to incorporate the consciousness aspect to its full potential.

We should discuss this topic more. For now, l will finish formally writing my thoughts. Then I’ll show you how rediculously awesome yet how absolutely ignorant we are.

···

On Sunday, January 26, 2014, PHILIP JERAIR YERANOSIAN pyeranos@ucla.edu wrote:

You guys are basically trying to establish the difference between the control of perception and the control of behavior. But behavior is the control of perception and so the control of behavior is the control of the control of perception. So what’s this all about?
The exchange of the terms command, communication, perception, behavior etc won’t clarify much of anything. After all, these terms are basically the same thing : we are looking at the behavior of a perceptual signal in the brain and figuring out how to communicate command statements to establish a negative feedback condition which stabilizes the behavior of the perceptual signal. Now when you command yourself to take a sip of the beer, you will have to eventually acquaint yourself with the inevitability of the ensuing conscious experience. You don’t just say: I’m going to take a sip of beer, and then drift into a realm of unconsciousness with no perception, and then, at a later time remember that you’ve sipped the beer. No, no, that sort of experience would make no sense. As soon as you engage in behavior, you will feel every single feeling you focus on and you will remember these feelings for at least a short while - until you’ve tried to focus on so many different things at once that your working memory is exhausted and you are forced to come to terms with the fact that your brain has limited conscious capacity. Here you will have encountered the need to group related variables together and establish hierarchical classes of controlled perceptions. Most people, however, do not max out their conscious capacity with the task of sipping a beer. When consciousness is discussed in the context of PCT, it is equated to the reorganizing process - the reorganization of existing control systems to do new things. How often is this reorganization necessary? How quickly (at what rate) could the process of reorganization theoretically take place. In many experiments, pct researchers have shown that higher classes of perceptions take more time to control. Since we now know to expect this, we should consider the reorganization process as something to be optimized. Optimizing the hierarchy is easy, once the task is defined, since Bill articulately identified what the perceptual classes are. What is not easy is to understand is the ease with which a human

can decide at one moment to take a sip of beer, and then at the next moment to do something totally different - like drive a car. We always discuss: how is it possible to sip the beer. We say: well, if only the difference between the perceptual variables (position of cup, position of mouth) and the reference variable (distance of cup to mouth) was zero, then it would happen. But then we remind ourselves, well the reference doesn’t NEED to be zero. I could, for example, splash the beer into my check. It would be no problem at all - all I need to do is set the reference (distance of cup to mouth) to the value of 2 inches to the left or right and I could easily get it done. But why stop there, what if I changed to reference to 10 miles away and threw my cup at the wall. Then, after realizing the 10 mile distance has not been realized, I retrieve all the broken shards and drive them to a suitable distance and then drive back to my original location. Could anyone prove that I’ve been mistaken? Could anyone tell me that my actions were incorrect - that I had not actually done the correct thing in the absolute sense of the word? Well let’s look at it this way. I may think that all I’ve done is to set my reference. I decided to set it to 10 miles away. And then I made absolutely sure that I carried out my task. I did not hesitate to do it, nor did I care about the cops in pursuit of me as I drove. I just drove 10 miles away and did the deed. Nobody is going to change my intention, NOBODY. Even if the cops take me to jail for drunk driving I’ll escape and find the shards of glass and take them to their time-invariant reference location - 10 miles away from where I was sitting at the bar. How do we understand this task without having me repeatedly stress the fact that my reference is defined and it is not changing no matter what environmental change occurs, whether we consider the emotional environment in my head, with thoughts swirling every which way, or the physical environment consisting of variables like the rate of approach of oncoming police vehicles. How could we reinterpret this entire situation as a single event, as a single control task.
So perception is maintained at a predefined reference condition, the difference between reference and perception converging to 0 at the end of the control behavior. The reference must always be zero. If you do not reduce it to zero, then you

Oh boy! I can't hardly wait.

···

On 1/26/14, PHILIP JERAIR YERANOSIAN <pyeranos@ucla.edu> wrote:

[Philip 2014.01.26.16.55]
I accidentally sent this to myself earlier instead of CSG. Pretend I said
this after where I left off and see if anything is clarified

Control of the reference perception occurs independently of whether or not
the external reality will ultimately be matched to the reference. In other
words, there is no automatic mechanism which error checks the universe and
guides you against rash decisions based off perceptions or references which
you don't have yourself. You will not be prevented from changing your
intention because of some universal constant or invariant. The laws of
thermodynamics will not prevent you from becoming conscious and then
literally controlling the perception you are controlling, thus controlling
your behavior in its entirety.

Once consciousness is realized, you can make the purpose of your behavior
whatever you want it to be, because the control loop is totally internal.
The loop is closed inside the brain. It doesn't depend at all on
environmental conditions or evolutionary history or anything. That's what
makes you able to maintain a conscious awareness of the task at hand
irrespective of anything else which has happened or will happen in the
entire universe.

Anything can be a perceptual variable, even the reference perception
itself. Consciousness is the controlled perception of the purpose of
behavior (i.e. the reference value). Powers defined consciousness as the
perception and awareness of the perception. But that is a redundant
definition. We should realize that control over the reference condition is
the proper definition.

I arrived at this conclusion over 6 months ago. Since then I had to
strengthen the mathematical basis of PCT in order to incorporate the
consciousness aspect to its full potential.

We should discuss this topic more. For now, l will finish formally writing
my thoughts. Then I'll show you how rediculously awesome yet how absolutely
ignorant we are.

On Sunday, January 26, 2014, PHILIP JERAIR YERANOSIAN <pyeranos@ucla.edu> > wrote:

You guys are basically trying to establish the difference between the
control of perception and the control of behavior. But behavior is the
control of perception and so the control of behavior is the control of the
control of perception. So what's this all about?
The exchange of the terms command, communication, perception, behavior etc
won't clarify much of anything. After all, these terms are basically the
same thing : we are looking at the behavior of a perceptual signal in the
brain and figuring out how to communicate command statements to establish a
negative feedback condition which stabilizes the behavior of the perceptual
signal. Now when you command yourself to take a sip of the beer, you will
have to eventually acquaint yourself with the inevitability of the
ensuing conscious experience. You don't just say: I'm going to take a sip
of beer, and then drift into a realm of unconsciousness with no perception,
and then, at a later time remember that you've sipped the beer. No, no,
that sort of experience would make no sense. As soon as you engage in
behavior, you will feel every single feeling you focus on and you will
remember these feelings for at least a short while - until you've tried
to focus on so many different things at once that your working memory is
exhausted and you are forced to come to terms with the fact that your brain
has limited conscious capacity. Here you will have encountered the need to
group related variables together and establish hierarchical classes of
controlled perceptions. Most people, however, do not max out their
conscious capacity with the task of sipping a beer. When consciousness is
discussed in the context of PCT, it is equated to the reorganizing process
- the reorganization of existing control systems to do new things. How
often is this reorganization necessary? How quickly (at what rate) could
the process of reorganization theoretically take place. In many
experiments, pct researchers have shown that higher classes of perceptions
take more time to control. Since we now know to expect this, we
should consider the reorganization process as something to be optimized.
Optimizing the hierarchy is easy, once the task is defined, since Bill
articulately identified what the perceptual classes are. What is not easy
is to understand is the ease with which a human
can decide at one moment to take a sip of beer, and then at the next moment
to do something totally different - like drive a car. We always discuss:
how is it possible to sip the beer. We say: well, if only the difference
between the perceptual variables (position of cup, position of mouth) and
the reference variable (distance of cup to mouth) was zero, then it
would happen. But then we remind ourselves, well the reference doesn't NEED
to be zero. I could, for example, splash the beer into my check. It would
be no problem at all - all I need to do is set the reference (distance of
cup to mouth) to the value of 2 inches to the left or right and I could
easily get it done. But why stop there, what if I changed to reference to
10 miles away and threw my cup at the wall. Then, after realizing the 10
mile distance has not been realized, I retrieve all the broken shards and
drive them to a suitable distance and then drive back to my original
location. Could anyone prove that I've been mistaken? Could anyone tell me
that my actions were incorrect - that I had not actually done
the correct thing in the absolute sense of the word? Well let's look at it
this way. I may think that all I've done is to set my reference. I decided
to set it to 10 miles away. And then I made absolutely sure that I carried
out my task. I did not hesitate to do it, nor did I care about the cops in
pursuit of me as I drove. I just drove 10 miles away and did the deed.
Nobody is going to change my intention, NOBODY. Even if the cops take me to
jail for drunk driving I'll escape and find the shards of glass and take
them to their time-invariant reference location - 10 miles away from where
I was sitting at the bar. How do we understand this task without having me
repeatedly stress the fact that my reference is defined and it is not
changing no matter what environmental change occurs, whether we consider
the emotional environment in my head, with thoughts swirling every which
way, or the physical environment consisting of variables like the rate of
approach of oncoming police vehicles. How could we reinterpret this entire
situation as a single event, as a single control task.
So perception is maintained at a predefined reference condition, the
difference between reference and perception converging to 0 at the end of
the control behavior. The reference must always be zero. If you do not
reduce it to zero, then you

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.27.22.51]

  [Philip 2014.01.26.16.55]

  I accidentally sent this to myself earlier instead of CSG. Pretend

I said this after where I left off and see if anything is
clarified

  Control of the reference perception occurs independently of

whether or not the external reality will ultimately be matched to
the reference.

[MT] I'm not clear what you mean be "reference perception". In the

HPCT structure, each individual elementary control unit has a
“perception” that is in the feedback loop and a “reference” that is
not. When you use the words as though “reference” were a kind of
“perception” you are outside the structure of PCT defined by Powers.
The word pair may mean something in some other theory, but it means
nothing to me.

  In other words, there is no automatic mechanism which

error checks the universe and guides you against rash decisions
based off perceptions or references which you don’t
have yourself.

[MT] If you are saying that all you can know of the world is what

you get from your senses and your analysis of those data over your
lifetime, I have to agree. But I don’t know if that is what you
meant, and I have no idea to what “perceptions and references you
don’t have yourself” could refer. Are you talking about control
systems in other living things?

  You will not be prevented from changing your intention

because of some universal constant or invariant. The laws of
thermodynamics will not prevent you from becoming conscious and
then literally controlling the perception you are controlling,
thus controlling your behavior in its entirety.

[MT] According to PCT, "literally controlling the perception you are

controlling" is what life is. It has nothing to do with
consciousness, and we don’t even know where in the world of biology
consciousness even exists, though perceptual control exists
everywhere there is life. PCT is, after all, a necessary consequence
of the laws of thermodynamics as they are currently understood.

    Once consciousness is realized, you can make the purpose of

your behavior whatever you want it to be, because the control
loop is totally internal.

[MT] This sounds like an article of faith, as stated. How would you

go about testing it? You may be right, but then again you may not.
If I were to say that you are wrong, what evidence could you produce
to contradict me?

    The loop is closed inside the brain. It doesn't depend at all

on environmental conditions or evolutionary history or anything.
That’s what makes you able to maintain a conscious awareness of
the task at hand irrespective of anything else which has
happened or will happen in the entire universe.

[MT] Two questions: (1) how do you demonstrate that you are right?

and (2) If you are right, what does it have to do with PCT? The
point of question 2 is not to limit the scope of PCT, but to ask
whether you have a modelable of integrating consciousness into the
PCT structure.

    Anything can be a perceptual variable, even the reference

perception itself.

[MT] Again, what do you mean by "the reference perception". Do you

mean the current value of the reference input? If so, when you are
discussing PCT in this group of people familiar with a particular
set of labels for the individual signals, it would ease the
discussion if you were to use those conventional labels in
preference to idiosyncratic ones with which the readers are
unfamiliar.

    Consciousness is the controlled perception of the purpose of

behavior (i.e. the reference value).

[MT] ??? At a loss to even guess at what you mean by this ???
    Powers defined consciousness as the perception and awareness

of the perception.

[MT] Could you provide an article and page reference for this?

[MT] "Awareness" seems to entail being conscious of something, for

sure, but I don’t remember Powers ever defining “consciousness”.
Earlier you said it had been defined as the process of
reorganization, which doesn’t seem much like the definition here.

    But that is a redundant definition. We should realize that

control over the reference condition is the proper definition.

[MT] According to PCT, there is no control of output, and hence no

control of reference values at the level below. Output is what it
needs to be to bring and keep the controlled variable (the
perception) near its reference value, a value supplied by the output
of a higher system unless the control unit of concern is at the top
of the hierarchy – in which case the reference value is taken to be
a fixed zero because there is no corresponding input signal.

  I arrived at this conclusion over 6 months ago. Since then I had

to strengthen the mathematical basis of PCT in order to
incorporate the consciousness aspect to its full potential.

[MT] Please give us links to notes, publications, drafts, or other

material that describes this strengthened mathematical basis of PCT.
At the moment, the best mathematical analyses we know are those
provided by Richard Kennaway. It would be nice to supplement these
with analyses done from a different viewpoint. And it would be even
nicer to have a mathematical foundation for consciousness.

    We should discuss this topic more. For now, l

will finish formally writing my thoughts. Then I’ll show you how
rediculously awesome yet how absolutely ignorant we are.

[MT] I don't think that needs much showing! It is well known to

anyone old enough to have learned that for every new thing learned,
a door opens to a further world as yet unknown. I think that happens
around age 18 or so.

[MT] I think one problem we have is communication. You are using a

terminology that includes some of the words used in much discussion
of PCT, but you seem to be using them to refer to different
concepts, and that makes it hard to respond seriously and
competently to what you write. Either you should try to guide us in
learning how you use the words or you could try using them in ways
that are standard in PCT discussions and writings. I would be
fascinated to understand how you tie consciousness into PCT, as you
obviously think of it as an integral factor for control of something
or other, whereas most PCT analysis ignores entirely the question of
consciousness.

Martin

Tim Coomb 2014.01.27.09.15

Hi Martin,

In your reply to Philip you said this:

[MT] “Awareness” seems to entail being conscious of something, for sure, but I don’t remember Powers ever defining “consciousness”. Earlier you said it had been defined as the process of reorganization, which doesn’t seem much like the definition here.

On page 202 of B:CoP Powers has a working definition of consciousness:

'Consciousness consists of perception (presence of neural currents in a perceptual pathway) and awareness (reception by the reorganising system of duplicates of those signals, which are all alike wherever they come from)…

Hope that jogs your memory.

Cheers

Tim

···

On 27 January 2014 04:24, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.27.22.51]

  [Philip 2014.01.26.16.55]

  I accidentally sent this to myself earlier instead of CSG. Pretend

I said this after where I left off and see if anything is
clarified

  Control of the reference perception occurs independently of

whether or not the external reality will ultimately be matched to
the reference.

[MT] I'm not clear what you mean be "reference perception". In the

HPCT structure, each individual elementary control unit has a
“perception” that is in the feedback loop and a “reference” that is
not. When you use the words as though “reference” were a kind of
“perception” you are outside the structure of PCT defined by Powers.
The word pair may mean something in some other theory, but it means
nothing to me.

  In other words, there is no automatic mechanism which

error checks the universe and guides you against rash decisions
based off perceptions or references which you don’t
have yourself.

[MT] If you are saying that all you can know of the world is what

you get from your senses and your analysis of those data over your
lifetime, I have to agree. But I don’t know if that is what you
meant, and I have no idea to what “perceptions and references you
don’t have yourself” could refer. Are you talking about control
systems in other living things?

  You will not be prevented from changing your intention

because of some universal constant or invariant. The laws of
thermodynamics will not prevent you from becoming conscious and
then literally controlling the perception you are controlling,
thus controlling your behavior in its entirety.

[MT] According to PCT, "literally controlling the perception you are

controlling" is what life is. It has nothing to do with
consciousness, and we don’t even know where in the world of biology
consciousness even exists, though perceptual control exists
everywhere there is life. PCT is, after all, a necessary consequence
of the laws of thermodynamics as they are currently understood.

    Once consciousness is realized, you can make the purpose of

your behavior whatever you want it to be, because the control
loop is totally internal.

[MT] This sounds like an article of faith, as stated. How would you

go about testing it? You may be right, but then again you may not.
If I were to say that you are wrong, what evidence could you produce
to contradict me?

    The loop is closed inside the brain. It doesn't depend at all

on environmental conditions or evolutionary history or anything.
That’s what makes you able to maintain a conscious awareness of
the task at hand irrespective of anything else which has
happened or will happen in the entire universe.

[MT] Two questions: (1) how do you demonstrate that you are right?

and (2) If you are right, what does it have to do with PCT? The
point of question 2 is not to limit the scope of PCT, but to ask
whether you have a modelable of integrating consciousness into the
PCT structure.

    Anything can be a perceptual variable, even the reference

perception itself.

[MT] Again, what do you mean by "the reference perception". Do you

mean the current value of the reference input? If so, when you are
discussing PCT in this group of people familiar with a particular
set of labels for the individual signals, it would ease the
discussion if you were to use those conventional labels in
preference to idiosyncratic ones with which the readers are
unfamiliar.

    Consciousness is the controlled perception of the purpose of

behavior (i.e. the reference value).

[MT] ??? At a loss to even guess at what you mean by this ???

    Powers defined consciousness as the perception and awareness

of the perception.

[MT] Could you provide an article and page reference for this?

[MT] "Awareness" seems to entail being conscious of something, for

sure, but I don’t remember Powers ever defining “consciousness”.
Earlier you said it had been defined as the process of
reorganization, which doesn’t seem much like the definition here.

    But that is a redundant definition. We should realize that

control over the reference condition is the proper definition.

[MT] According to PCT, there is no control of output, and hence no

control of reference values at the level below. Output is what it
needs to be to bring and keep the controlled variable (the
perception) near its reference value, a value supplied by the output
of a higher system unless the control unit of concern is at the top
of the hierarchy – in which case the reference value is taken to be
a fixed zero because there is no corresponding input signal.

  I arrived at this conclusion over 6 months ago. Since then I had

to strengthen the mathematical basis of PCT in order to
incorporate the consciousness aspect to its full potential.

[MT] Please give us links to notes, publications, drafts, or other

material that describes this strengthened mathematical basis of PCT.
At the moment, the best mathematical analyses we know are those
provided by Richard Kennaway. It would be nice to supplement these
with analyses done from a different viewpoint. And it would be even
nicer to have a mathematical foundation for consciousness.

    We should discuss this topic more. For now, l

will finish formally writing my thoughts. Then I’ll show you how
rediculously awesome yet how absolutely ignorant we are.

[MT] I don't think that needs much showing! It is well known to

anyone old enough to have learned that for every new thing learned,
a door opens to a further world as yet unknown. I think that happens
around age 18 or so.

[MT] I think one problem we have is communication. You are using a

terminology that includes some of the words used in much discussion
of PCT, but you seem to be using them to refer to different
concepts, and that makes it hard to respond seriously and
competently to what you write. Either you should try to guide us in
learning how you use the words or you could try using them in ways
that are standard in PCT discussions and writings. I would be
fascinated to understand how you tie consciousness into PCT, as you
obviously think of it as an integral factor for control of something
or other, whereas most PCT analysis ignores entirely the question of
consciousness.

Martin

[Philip 2014.01.28.1.20]

Wow,very interesting replies, Martin. I couldn’t be happier with the points you raise. It’s clear that I seem to have invented a type of PCT which is unique from Bill’s. Also, this is the first time I’m telling anybody in the PCT circle anything about my ideas (except for the one time I met Rick Marken about 8 or 9 months ago, right before Bill pased). It’s extremely unfortunate that I never got a chance to speak to Bill, but it’s extremely fortunate that you are all here to carry his torch.

You might be wondering why I’m a completely unknown person in the PCT realm. Generally, in science and math, people don’t purposefully proceed in isolation as I have; they usually work in groups and look for constant feedback in their writings and publishings. You might be wondering why I’m showing up here, all of a sudden, unannounced. The truth is, I’m not completely unannounced. Rick has known me (a little bit) for a while now, but he has never seen any of my actual work. There’s a solid reason I’ve waited this long to tell anybody anything…it’s literally almost impossibly difficult to answer the question of “what is consciousness”, giving an exquisitely appealing reasoning for exactly “why” the conscious experience should occur. I won’t tell you the details of my life story and of what I have subjected myself to for years in order to become intuitively familiar with this question, simply because its too energetic a message to convey at the moment, and because I have still been (until very recently) drowning in the midst of the energetic effects; I will tell you immediately that my emotions are just now stabilizing from long, ungodly episodes of fear and frustration. I have been working tirelessly on the central problem of consciousness in absolute isolation from the entire PCT crowd for quite some time now, and I believe I finally have enough understanding to proceed with unlimited patience, and no fear of failure.

Let’s begin…from the end.

*** [MT] I think one problem we have is communication. You are using a
terminology that includes some of the words used in much discussion
of PCT, but you seem to be using them to refer to different
concepts, and that makes it hard to respond seriously and
competently to what you write. Either you should try to guide us in
learning how you use the words or you could try using them in ways
that are standard in PCT discussions and writings. I would be
fascinated to understand how you tie consciousness into PCT, as you
obviously think of it as an integral factor for control of something
or other, whereas most PCT analysis ignores entirely the question of
consciousness.***

Don’t worry, you have given me the most competent response I could have ever hoped for. So,

First off, the only PCT literature I have read is Bill’s original, B:CoP, as well as Rick Marken’s More Mind Readings (which was my only initial source of information about the existence of Bill’s work). I must admit, I am not at all familiar with Bill’s most recent works, but I am pretty sure I’m intuitively familiar with everything he was relating to, because I originally developed the biology-oriented applications of PCT before I came across the actual existence of PCT and learned it was originally geared toward psychology-oriented applications. I have a lot of background information about ALL the subjects, more than anyone would probably like to admit a person of my inclination would have. I’ve spent most of my time reading books that most people don’t even know exist. Most of the important ones were written between the 40’s and the 80’s.

As an aside: It surprises me how much information was known during the time Bill invented his theory and it also surprises me how little cross-polination has occured between Bill’s ideas and some of the seriously groundbreaking mathematical treatises which were available at the time. If I were to suggest the first point of unification of these theories, I would direct you towards the mathematical theories of communication as developed by Shannon in the 50’s. Truly excellent work. The tipping point which allowed me to eventually arrive at my definition of consciousness a few months later was Shannon’s definition of the information-channel capacity. I will try to show how you could seamlessly blend perceptual control theory with information theory. If this has already been done, please let me know so I can take a look at the work. But I don’t think anybody has tried to as of yet.

From now on, I will be sure to be more mindful of the fact that I have invented a lot of new concepts and word pairings that literally make no sense to you guys, yet. But rest assured, there is a ton of method to the madness. It took me many months, sometimes years, of sifting through all the possible phrase-permutations to arrive at these specific word pairings, but I will be glad to throw any of them out the window as soon as I find better ones.

···
Martin

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.27.17.36]

Tim Coomb 2014.01.27.09.15
Hi Martin,
In your reply to Philip you said this:
[MT] "Awareness" seems to entail being conscious of something, for sure, but I don't remember Powers ever defining "consciousness". Earlier you said it had been defined as the process of reorganization, which doesn't seem much like the definition here.
On page 202 of B:CoP Powers has a working definition of consciousness:
'Consciousness consists of perception (presence of neural currents in a perceptual pathway) and awareness (reception by the reorganising system of duplicates of those signals, which are all alike wherever they come from)...
Hope that jogs your memory.

That's not a definition in the sense I was hoping for. Philip said: " Consciousness is the controlled perception of the purpose of behavior (i.e. the reference value). Powers defined consciousness as the perception and awareness of the perception. But that is a redundant definition. We should realize that control over the reference condition is the proper definition." Earlier Philip had said:"When consciousness is discussed in the context of PCT, it is equated to the reorganizing process - the reorganization of existing control systems to do new things."

If the sentence you quote from Powers is the sum total of Bill's definitions of consciousness, then we have no definition other than the everyday one: "Consciousness is what you are aware of." In fact, the Powers quote doesn't even purport to be a definition so much as a speculation about what is happening when one is conscious of something. One is conscious of those perceptual signals that are received by the reorganizing system.

Now, the reorganizing system as I understand it is still very ill-defined and speculative. Even if we accept HPCT as holy writ (something Bill always urged us NOT to do), all we can be sure of about the reorganizing system is that it must be able to modify the perceptual control hierarchy in such a way that the actions that serve to control the perceptions in the hierarchy also enable the intrinsic variables to stay within viable limits. Reorganization might influence the nature of perceptual functions and the elaboration of output connections to lower-level reference inputs, but nothing about the requirement to keep intrinsic variables within viable limits suggests that perceptual signals are necessarily received by the reorganizing system. I don't remember Bill ever suggesting it in our conversations about reorganization over the last 20 years (and remember that B:CP was written 40 years ago, before Bill had ANY clear idea of how reorganization might work). His simulations of reorganization don't require perceptual signals to be fed to the reorganizing system. Error signals, yes, but not perceptual signals.

So I would discount that quoted sentence entirely.

Martin

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.27.17.58]

[Philip 2014.01.28.1.20]

      As an aside: It surprises me how much information was known

during the time Bill invented his theory and it also surprises
me how little cross-polination has occured between Bill’s
ideas and some of the seriously groundbreaking mathematical
treatises which were available at the time. If I were to
suggest the first point of unification of these theories, I
would direct you towards the mathematical theories of
communication as developed by Shannon in the 50’s. Truly
excellent work. The tipping point which allowed me to
eventually arrive at my definition of consciousness a few
months later was Shannon’s definition of the
information-channel capacity. I will try to show how you
could seamlessly blend perceptual control theory with
information theory. If this has already been done, please let
me know so I can take a look at the work. But I don’t think
anybody has tried to as of yet.

How long have you been reading CSGnet? If it is more than a few

months, you may have seen some of my attempts at tutorials on the
application of information theory (Shannon, not later variants) to
control. It’s simply not true that nobody has tried it yet. Richard
Kennaway says that he has looked into it, but (a few years ago) had
not come up with formal solutions in information-theoretic terms.


          [MT] Please give us links to notes, publications, drafts,

or other material that describes this strengthened
mathematical basis of PCT. At the moment, the best
mathematical analyses we know are those provided by
Richard Kennaway. It would be nice to supplement these
with analyses done from a different viewpoint. And it
would be even nicer to have a mathematical foundation for
consciousness.

       ***
      I can provide you with strong mathematical proofs as soon

as I complete my required study of the entire field of
mathematics. I am moving very fast, and will finish soon (but
math books are very hard to read, and we’re talking about pure
math here - were also talking about pure autodidaction, since
my old professors don’t seem to care much enough about PCT to
get involved with my work). But there’s good news: I have
already arrived at the basic solution strategy for every
single currently unsolved math problem in existence (including
the difficult ones which have eluded us since the time of the
ancients, as well as the modern day problems of quantum
mechanics).

I hadn't realized that we had the greatest mathematician of all

times among us. This is indeed a great honour. Resolving the Riemann
Zeta problem will at least get you a Fields medal. Congratulations
in advance.

      ***              Consciousness is the controlled perception of the

purpose of behavior (i.e. the reference value)
[MT] ??? At a loss to even guess at what you mean by this
???***

      This made me laugh.  I always wondered how the PCT crowd

would react when I tried to give them my exact definition of
consciousness.

When will you do that? The words quoted above say nothing. Perhaps

they mean something to you, but they don’t to me. “The controlled
perception of the purpose of behaviour” uses words that have
specific referents in PCT, but that cannot sensibly be put together
in that way. It makes as much sense to me as “The door to the
skylight of the basement floor”.

      This definition of is something which I developed in order

to explain how it would be possible to control the purpose of
your behavior.

But what does that mean? "To control the purpose of your behaviour"

is word salad. I’ve tried to figure out what it could possibly mean,
but the nearest I can come to it is time multiplexing across control
systems that would otherwise be in conflict. You have to shift from
controlling one variable to controlling another because you have
only one pair of hands and can’t be in two places at once. But that
seems too obvious and mundane to require months of deep thought, so
you must mean something different and obscure.

      Now, I notice my definition has provoked genuine surprise

and uncertainty.

No. Bewilderment and a request for translation or elaboration so

that it might come to mean something – anything. If it is
translated into an intelligible form, then it might provoke surprise
and/or uncertainty. Or it might not.

      I thought this definition of consciousness would be

self-explanatory and would immediately make sense, because I
noticed that such a combination of phrasing had never even
been considered by Powers, even though it is generally of the
same form as the basic mantra of PCT, and so I thought it
would have an intuitive appeal.

Yes, you can make parallel mantras. PCT has two mantras "All

behaviour is the control of perception" and “You can’t tell what
someone is doing by looking at what they are doing”. Yours seems to
parallel neither of these, and I don’t see the metaphoric parallels
either, so it remains mysterious.

      According to PCT, all behavior is the control of a

perceptual variable.

So far, so good.
      In essence, the first thing I have done is to equate

consciousness with behavior (referring to the general term
“consciouness” as “conscious behavior”).

What justifies this equivalence? It seems to me to be arbitrary and

indefensible. Arbitrary because it is by fiat, and indefensible
because it would require every action we produce to be present in
consciousness, which is clearly not the case.

      Then I equated the purpose of behavior with the reference

variable, just as I had seen had been done before.

That's fair enough by itself. The current value of the reference

variable is often described as the current purpose of that
particular elementary control unit.

      I then had to contend with the issue of how one could go

about controlling this variable.

That would be a definite departure from Bill's HPCT, which is fine.

Bill never expected HPCT to be the full story. Personally, I have
preferred to see how far we can go without deviating from HPCT,
though I think of many ways in which it will probably need to be
changed to explain all that we and other living things do. So if you
want to create a structure in which one control system’s controlled
perception is the reference value of another, that creates no
problem for me. However, I think it would create a problem for the
behaving structure of control systems.

Consider the example Bill uses, of steering a car. At one level the

driver is controlling a perception of where in the lane the car is
at the moment. If it is further left than its reference value, that
control system produces output that influences the reference value
for the angle of the steering wheel. What would happen if there was
another control system that actually perceived the reference value
for the steering wheel angle and controlled its perception of that
reference value? The control system that is controlling the
perception of the position of the car in its lane can’t control that
reference value, because it is already controlling the lane position
perception, so it must be quite another control system controlling
the wheel-angle reference value. The control system that controls
the perception of where the car is in its lane could no longer
influence the angle of the steering wheel because it is being
controlled by the other control system, and the car would probably
go off the road.

In HPCT, no reference value is controlled, and I find it hard to

envisage a viable construction in which it would be useful for
reference values to be controlled. But you have envisaged such a
structure. Maybe it would be helpful if you were to show a sketch of
how such a structure would work without getting itself tied in
knots. Better yet, make a simulation in some platform-independent
code, to show that it would actually work.

      PCT essentially points out that the most any control system

can do to control some variable is to control a perception of
that variable.

Not "the most any control system can do" -- it's what a control

system does, and the only thing it does.

      This is absolutely basic.  So I figured the next question

should be, what is it which allows you to actually have a
perception of something.

In the eye, rods and cones, then retinal ganglia and other neural

structures that produce signals in the optic nerve, and so on and so
forth. At every stage, the patterns derived (at least in part) from
the patterns of photons impinging on the retina are “perceptions” in
PCT. Some of these are controlled. Most are not.

      This is a tough question, but I learned it becomes easier

to ask the more specific question, what is it which allows you
to have a controlled perception of something. That’s
when I incorporated information theory and Shanon’s
information channel capacity into the consideration and the
solution eventually became apparent, once we merge the concept
of perception and communication (I will provide you with this
explanation soon).

The sooner the better. At the moment, my information analysis is not

in closed form. Yes, channel capacity is important. So is the
disturbance information rate, the reference information rate, the
loop delay, the information loss rate over storage time (e.g. the
leak – “slowing”-- rate in the Powers leaky integrator output
stage), and a few other small details. In open form, one can at
least say that the quality of control is limited by the disturbance
information rate and the loop transport lag, but that’s a very loose
kind of bound. It would be nice to have a formulation in which all
the relevant aspects are taken into account, even for one elementary
control loop.

      ***              [MT] According to PCT, there is no control of output,

and hence no control of reference values at the level
below. Output is what it needs to be to bring and keep the
controlled variable (the perception) near its reference
value, a value supplied by the output of a higher system
unless the control unit of concern is at the top of the
hierarchy – in which case the reference value is taken to
be a fixed zero because there is no corresponding input
signal.***

      Basically, this is the model of behavior without consciousness

involved. In More Mind Readings, Rick explicitly points out
that control systems can be modeled without any incorporation
of consciousness into the system. This is true. But
remember, consciousness has never been properly defined.

Quite true. And unless you can make your definition both

intelligible and conforming to experience, it remains true so fa as
I am concerned.

      ***
          [MT] "Awareness" seems to entail being conscious of

something, for sure, but I don’t remember Powers ever
defining “consciousness”. Earlier you said it had been
defined as the process of reorganization, which doesn’t
seem much like the definition here.***
*** [Me] Powers defined consciousness as the perception and
awareness of the perception.
[MT] Could you provide an article and page reference for
this?***
In the 1973 edition of B:CoP, this definition is given as
the working definition of consciousness on pg 200:

        Consciousness consists of perceptions (presence of nural

currents in a perceptual pathway) and awareness
(reception by the reorganizing system of duplicates of those
signals).

        Now here's what I say: what if we imagine turning the

reference variable into the variable being controlled by
imagining a separate perceptual control loop (completely
internal to the organism) which receives duplicates of
REFERENCE signals as the perceptual signal then controls
these with a new set of references. Wouldn’t this give you
a picture of consciousness as the voice in your head saying
“now I see I’m doing this one thing, and now I’m going to
try to do this other thing…”. It also gives you a reason
for “why” the conscious experience occurs. This is one way
to look at it. But now that I think more of it, based off
what I was rereading today from Wiener’s cybernetics, this
explanation can also be summed up by considering what Wiener
refers to as “the best characteristic frequency of
filtration”. I will look into this.

I don't think you have the mechanism quite right, if what you want

to achieve is time multiplexing. What you have to do is influence
the loop gains in such a way that the control unit with purpose you
want to give up gets a low or zero loop gain and the control unit
with the purpose you want to start pursuing begins to have an
appreciable (negative) loop gain. For dynamical reasons, the switch
can’t be instant, but it can be fast relative to the time scale of
our shifts of consciousness. And for what it’s worth, I have long
ago proposed on CSGnet that it is this shifting of control that is a
large part of consciousness (another part of my proposal is related
to states of poor control). But this is quite different again from
your two previous definitions of consciousness.

…Powers’ model is totally linear.

No it isn't. Powers has often used linear structures in his

simulations, but he has also used nonlinear ones. Powers and Marken
have at least one paper (apparently unpublished, but I’m sure Rick
would send it to you) about logarithmic perceptual functions and the
behavioral illusion. Furthermore, since the HPCT perceptual
structure is exactly a multi-level perceptron, it cannot work if the
perceptual functions are linear. Linear loops are, however, easier
to analyze, and quite often a linear approximation works quite well,
at least for small excursion. So the units are quite often described
in linear terms without any caveats, so it is easy to assume that
linearity is an element of the theory.

      ***              [MT] Two questions: (1) how do you demonstrate that you

are right? and (2) If you are right, what does it have to
do with PCT? The point of question 2 is not to limit the
scope of PCT, but to ask whether you have a modelable of
integrating consciousness into the PCT structure.***

      Take a person, stick him in the MRI.  Run the experiment

I’m developing.

When you describe it, we will know whether you have answered the

question.

      ...This stuff [MT: esoteric mathematics] is important

because if we are ever to differentiate between the terms
“sensation” and “perception”, we need to understand more about
the mathematics of the Fourier and Laplace Transform.

Which both apply to linear systems. The form of the underlying

maths, though, is exactly what the perceptron structure does. All
the transforms do is rotate the data from one basis space into
another. Doing that with nonlinear scaling allows the multiple
levels of perception to deal with different kinds of structures in
the environment. So yes, understanding the maths of the Fourier
transform helps in understanding how that happens. Different
rotations, such as short-time Fourier transforms, do different
things. But it is indeed good to understand that they are all
squashed rotations.

*** [MT] I’m not clear what you mean be “reference
perception”. In the HPCT structure, each individual
elementary control unit has a “perception” that is in the
feedback loop and a “reference” that is not. When you use
the words as though “reference” were a kind of
“perception” you are outside the structure of PCT defined
by Powers. The word pair may mean something in some other
theory, but it means nothing to me.
***

      One last thing to say: it's very interesting how you use

the term “elementary” in this context.

Why? An "elementary control unit" in PCT is a precisely defined

entity. It has nothing to do with classes of functions. It is a
structure with a scalar perceptual signal derived from variables in
the environment of the unite that is compared with a scalar
reference value to create a scalar error value that is transformed
by an output function into a scalar output value that is distributed
into the environment of the unit. An “elementary control loop” also
includes the paths the output takes until its effects reach the
process that creates the scalar perceptual signal. The perceptual
signal is part of the loop, the reference signal is not. You didn’t
explain what you meant by “reference perception”.

      May I point out that there are three major classes of

geometric analysis having to do with “elementary”, “real”, and
“complex” functions. I’m sure we’ll be able to understand how
loops connect with things that are outside the loop once we
finally understand the concept of imaginary numbers and the
square root of -1 (relating to transformations in the complex
plane). This is not pure unadulterated speculation. Thoth’s
“sacred geometry” is powerful, and I’ve connected knowledge
which is at least over 12,000 years old with the very current,
only recently invented, realm of pure mathematics. If you
want to shove PCT down the entire world’s throat (as I do) and
also be a hero about it, you’d probably want to look more into
the claim that control systems of level 10-12 have to do with
humans performing mathematics. Literally controlling the
shapes we draw on the paper. But first, we need to have a
very good understanding of the number 9.

That is all I have to say about that.

That's fine. An air of mystery is fun, however scientifically

unhelpful. Incidentally, was Thoth concerned with the megalithic
construction at Gobekli Tepe? That was 12,000 years ago, but the
Egyptian civilization most associated with Thoth wasn’t recording
anything until some 6000 years later.

By the way, I don't want to shove anything down anyone's throat, but

I would like to find a way to make it easy for people to understand
how control systems work and why it matters for psychology. Even on
CSGnet, a lot of occasional contributors don’t seem to understand
control very well, and these are people who already want to
understand and possibly to use or to develop PCT.

Leaving that aside, when you have finished inventing all that you

are in process of inventing, and have demonstrated peer-reviewed
solutions to all of Hilbert’s problems, it will be interesting to
see how all this new math is applied to the very practical question
of structure of PCT might best correspond to how different organisms
actually work. Is the appropriate PCT structure the same in all
organisms (apart from the sheer number of controlled perceptions),
or is the structure different across different branches of the
evolutionary tree? Do all living things have consciousness?

Martin

Tim Coomb 2014.01.28.16.04

Thanks Martin. As someone only recently starting to understand PCT could you explain what you mean by the term ‘perceptual function’ you use in the third paragraph. If we take figure 2-3 on page 28 of LCSIII are you just referring to the input function or do you mean something wider.

Thanks

Tim

···

On 27 January 2014 22:57, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2014.01.27.17.36]

Tim Coomb 2014.01.27.09.15

Hi Martin,

In your reply to Philip you said this:

[MT] “Awareness” seems to entail being conscious of something, for sure, but I don’t remember Powers ever defining “consciousness”. Earlier you said it had been defined as the process of reorganization, which doesn’t seem much like the definition here.

On page 202 of B:CoP Powers has a working definition of consciousness:

'Consciousness consists of perception (presence of neural currents in a perceptual pathway) and awareness (reception by the reorganising system of duplicates of those signals, which are all alike wherever they come from)…

Hope that jogs your memory.

That’s not a definition in the sense I was hoping for. Philip said: " Consciousness is the controlled perception of the purpose of behavior (i.e. the reference value). Powers defined consciousness as the perception and awareness of the perception. But that is a redundant definition. We should realize that control over the reference condition is the proper definition." Earlier Philip had said:“When consciousness is discussed in the context of PCT, it is equated to the reorganizing process - the reorganization of existing control systems to do new things.”

If the sentence you quote from Powers is the sum total of Bill’s definitions of consciousness, then we have no definition other than the everyday one: “Consciousness is what you are aware of.” In fact, the Powers quote doesn’t even purport to be a definition so much as a speculation about what is happening when one is conscious of something. One is conscious of those perceptual signals that are received by the reorganizing system.

Now, the reorganizing system as I understand it is still very ill-defined and speculative. Even if we accept HPCT as holy writ (something Bill always urged us NOT to do), all we can be sure of about the reorganizing system is that it must be able to modify the perceptual control hierarchy in such a way that the actions that serve to control the perceptions in the hierarchy also enable the intrinsic variables to stay within viable limits. Reorganization might influence the nature of perceptual functions and the elaboration of output connections to lower-level reference inputs, but nothing about the requirement to keep intrinsic variables within viable limits suggests that perceptual signals are necessarily received by the reorganizing system. I don’t remember Bill ever suggesting it in our conversations about reorganization over the last 20 years (and remember that B:CP was written 40 years ago, before Bill had ANY clear idea of how reorganization might work). His simulations of reorganization don’t require perceptual signals to be fed to the reorganizing system. Error signals, yes, but not perceptual signals.

So I would discount that quoted sentence entirely.

Martin