[Norman Hovda (2000.06.08.1000 MST)]
[Martin Taylor 2000.06.02]
Sorry to be so long in responding, but as I mentioned before, I'm
busy preparing for a meeting out of town (Quebec, actually) the next
No problem. Bon voyage and at your leisure.
>[From Norman Hovda (2000.05.30.1200 MST)]
> > [Martin Taylor 2000.05.25 09:39]
> > You can't control other control systems, but you can set up an
> > environment for them in which they reorganize. How they reorganize is
> > unpredictable, but the "winter leaf" effect ensures an effective
> > coercer that undesired reorganizations in the coercee change further,
> > whereas desired ones stick around.
>"winter leaf" effect?
It's a term we've used for some years to describe how reorganization
brings the hierarchy to a more-or-less stable state. I don't know
whether you live in a part of the world where leaves fall off the
trees in the autumn and swirl around in the wind, but if you do, you
know that they are mostly swept away from open areas and wind up in
big piles in relatively sheltered areas. So long as a leaf is
somewhere that allows wind from the prevailing direction to move it
around, it will move. Likewise with reorganization. So long as the
hierarchy is in a state that does not allow it to maintain good
control it will continue to reorganize, but when it does achieve
control, reorganization slows or stops (according to "classical" PCT).
If a wind comes from an unaccustomed direction, a drifted pile of
leaves may be scattered into new places, but some piles are protected
from winds in most directions. Likewise with reorganization; if the
organism has been in a very stable environment, it may be able to
control well only in that environment, and if something happens to
change its environmental feedback paths, it may lose control of one
or more perceptions. It will start again to reorganize into some new
configuration. A hierarchy that has had to control in a variety of
environments has probably reorganized into a robust configuration
that can control despite a range of novel environmental changes.
Both the initial loss of control in one loop, and the process of
reorganization that may result, can cause loss of control in other
loops that depend on the initially faulty one. That can cascade into
a major loss of control in a large part of the hierarchy (I attribute
temper-tantrums to this effect). This leads to another term "The Bomb
in the Machine," that may not be familiar to you--it's been a few
years since i talked about it on CSGnet. I argued then that
reorganization necessarily leads the hierarchy into a state of
self-organized criticality in which minor environmental changes may
cause large reorganizations or none at all. Bruce Gregory tells me he
is contemplating talking about this at the Boston meeting. I hope he
does, and I wish I could be there to hear him.
Fascinating and thanks for giving time to explain.
I've used the expression "path of least resistance" as a label for such a
process as you seem to be describing above. Would that phrase be
appropriate to what you have in mind?
>Yes... I think I'm beginning to better appreciate the comprehensive,
>automatic and involuntary nature of these PCT model dynamics better.
>It seems perhaps my personal bias, prejudice, resistance unawares to
>the PCT model may be associated with the notion that we living
>systems have the capability to intervene, manipulate, or modify these
>living control systems at will.
The concept of "will" is a bit strange here, since it is recursive
within PCT. The "will" to change something is a reflection of a
difference between a perception and a reference level for that
perception. This imples that the thing to be changed is perceived,
and that for some purpose higher in the hierarchy the state of that
Outstanding. I don't recall reading any PCT material that fits "will" into
that error spot but seems appropriate to this untrained eye. Is there any
theoretical consensus about this "reflection"?
To have the "will" to change something within oneself implies that
one is perceiving that aspect of oneself. There's no problem with
that, but what it does, conceptually, is to push the source of the
"will" into some other part of the hierarchy--and eventually into the
evolved reference levels for the intrinsic variables of the organism
(basically the body chemistry variables that sustain life).
Possibly the selfish gene? KK's twelveth level? The transcendental
Might it be possible that the 'source of the "will"' results, emerges or is
determined from the cummulative effects generated throughout the
_whole_ of the hierarchy rather just some part of the hierarchy?
>I'm also thinking of a lag times from when AB contract is initially
>executed to when C, D,...X, Y, Z.actually perceive various side effects
>and actually take action to counter the disturbances.
That's a very important consideration in the dynamics of any control
system, and more so when dealing with the interactions of many
control systems. If the effect of the A-B contract were immediately
discernable by C...Z and their counter-action could have immediate
effect, much of the analysis would be different. C...Z would, for
example, find no benefit in contracting together to oppose the
execution of whole classes of contract (i.e. no need to generate
enforceable regulations and laws). But the time lags mean that the
best they can do is to detect the _imagined future_ effects of a
contract, and act to oppose the imagined disturbances to ther
Being in the options and futures business, perceptions around
"_imagined future_ effects" is the game indeed. For example, taken in
the aggregate, sellers "oppose the imagined [bullish] disturbances" by
raising the offer price.
It's much the same as aiming a hose. You can't do anything about
where a water drop lands that has left the hose, but you can imagine
that a future water drop will land near that one unless you move the
hose. It looks as if you are controlling the aim of a flexible rod,
but you are actually only influencing where all new drops will go,
based on your perception of a drop you can no longer influence.
Xlent description of distributions of price through time. Moving the hose,
in the case of a streaming ticker of market prices, is a function of
buyers and sellers changing their respective reference levels for a price
>I introduced "deliberate consideration" on the part of AB attempting to
>create fewer, if any, substantive side effects that may result in less, if
>any, effective opposition from C, D,...X, Y, Z in that they then
>effectively control for their perceptions of AB's contract.
A and B are, in principle, able to incorporate control of their
perceptions of effects on C...Z in their constrution of the contract.
The less disturbance they create to C...Z, the less opposition they
should find. A contract to build a chemical plant can include
technology to eliminate noxious emissions, or not. One kind of
contract is less likely to induce opposition than the other. But
C...Z may have long ago formed a "government" that issued regulations
prohibiting the construction of polluting chemical plants, in which
case the opposition comes at the stage of the formation of any
contract that proposes to make construction cheaper by not
eliminating the emissions. Either way, the "free market" price of the
contract is skewed by the opposition of C...Z.
Yup. I'm in the corner. Irrefutable it seems. I suppose my frustration
comes about by the unintended side effects of good intentions which
eventually come to be perceived as unpleasant by _my_ reference level
>More reactive idealism here on my part... attempting to claim
>that a fair minded review of the cost benefit trade-offs between the two
>approaches would fall in favor of free trade. IOW, productive business
>practice IMO seeks to minimize unwanted, unintended side-effect and
>maximize "abilities of other people to control perceptions important to
Yes, I agree with that (apart from the presumption that one can
control side-effects, which by their definition are unperceived), but
I'd like to go a bit deeper and ask why this is the case. Is it not
because contracts that don't minimize influences on other people's
perceptions are contracts likely to be opposed? A and B, imagining
that future opposition, may control for avoiding it in the design of
the contract. In the long run, that is indeed likely to be the most
productive business practice. But "in the long run" is the key phrase
here. Many business operations look to the shorter term--the
quarterly profit report to shareholders, for example--rather than to
the effects on their businesses a generation down the road.
No doubt about the level of risks associated with any venture into the
future. The contextual timeframe is a major factor in evaluating the many
known trade-offs that _may_ impact outcomes.
Governments are not immune to this short-term approach (the operative
phrase might be "hit-and-run" rather than "long run"), as we see very
strongly in Ontario at present with a government that is destroying
much of the regulatory framework that inhibits business from damaging
the environment and the little first-class farmland that we have in
Canada. The present CEO, Prime Minister, or President may be long
gone before the damage they do to their business or country by not
taking into account the perceptions of people "outside the contract"
(such as yet-unborn children) becomes self-evident.
Short term (buy and deliver concentrated benefits now) v. long term (pay
diffused costs later) = politics. IMO the more disconnected people are
from the negative feedback loop, the more distorted the feedback of their
actions, the more likely the timeframe involved will be shorter.
> > "PCT-unstable" means "If PCT is correct, the item in question cannot
> > survive for indefinite periods of time."
>Digression... What does or could "survive for indefinite periods of time"
>in this world of time and space? We'd have to specify some contextual
Not a digression. No, one should not have to specify a timeframe.
It's a question like that of dynamic stability. A pencil balanced on
its point will stay there indefinitely if it isn't moved, but the
slightest nudge (by an errant air molecule, for example) will set it
moving off top dead centre, and it will accelerate away from that
position until it is lying on the ground. There it will sit, and no
matter how it is buffeted, it will return to the "lying down"
position forever (or at least until it rots away).
Yes but I took your comment '"PCT-unstable" means "If PCT is correct,
the item in question cannot survive for indefinite periods of time."' and
asked my Q thinking your "item in question" was referring to a _living
control system_ .
Likewise, a PCT-stable structure may be altered by events, but over
time it will return to the same structure. A PCT-unstable structure,
on the other hand, may sustain itself over the short term, but a
small event is likely to cause an unrecoverable deviation. The
structure moves to a different form. That is really what Rick is on
about in his "bad actor" postings, though he frames his argument
Oscillating systems can be stable in this sense. It is the
oscillation cycle that returns after a disturbing event. The
oscillation cycle itself is the stable structure, not the position of
the oscillating entity within the cycle. Many dynamic systems have
stable oscillation cycles, and it may be that a PCT-stable social
structure does as well. Some weeks ago I argued that this was
actually the case, and that a PCT-stable social structure involved a
cycle of slow acquisition of power by a small number of people,
followed by a quick destruction of that power by revolution and riot,
out of which a few people gradually acquire increasing power...
I could be right and I could be wrong, but that's an example of a
dynamic structure that might be PCT-stable, though not static.
Again I'll say an xlent description of distributions of price (oscilating
entity) through time. IOW the free markets are, IMO, "oscillating
> > Anarchy and free markets are PCT-unstable because over
> > time regulatory bodies will emerge that increase the overall ability of
> > people to control even though they reduce the ability of some people to
> > control some perceptions.
>Likewise, would it not also be true that command and control (over
>regulated stagnant) economies would also be "PCT-unstable because
>over time [freedom] will emerge that increase the overall ability
>of people to control even though they reduce the ability of some
>people to control some perceptions."???
I would assume so. I make that assumption on the ground that a
PCT-stable structure is one that allows maximum control over all
perceptions in all control loops in all hierarchies in the structure.
Mind you, this criterion is also an assumption, and not a
well-defined one, at that.
Would it not be possible then that anarchy and free markets are
oscilating entities in a larger PCT-stable control system(s)?
>No. Hmmmm... what may be considered ideological extremes have
>manifested to lesser degrees throughout human history sufficient to
>support my claim that tending towards more freedom is better than
>embracing elements of slavery.
"Better" is evaluative. I could agree with you on the basis of my
systems reference levels, without either of us being correct in
saying that a PCT-stable structure contains no "elements of slavery."
I'm not at all clear, though, that we would agree on what constitutes
an "element of slavery". My "more freedom" means the same as above,
that there is some increase in the ability of control loops to
control their perceptions, averaged over all hierachies (people) in
the system. This inevitably means reducing conflict by inhibiting the
ability of some control systems to control in order to provide more
ability to others. I have a hunch that it is this inhibition (by
coercion, of course) that you call an 'element of slavery."
Not if there is expressed, explicit consent.
if it involves an overall increase in the ability of peple to control.
Fascinating once again. Thank you. I believe I understand this better
and find this explanatory power of PCT quite agreeable. Apart from PCT,
what remains troublesome for me is my evaluative preference for
voluntary and consensual participation in a particular context and the
ability to opt out.
>I'm disappointed to have come across with such an either/or POV. My
>poor e-mail skills of expression no doubt. My intention is to shoot for
>more civil and less political.
What does this mean in PCT language?
I think you've made a stab at it above. I've [added] my modifications.
"My 'more [civil]' means... that there is some increase in the ability of
control loops to control their perceptions, averaged over all hierachies
(people) in the system. This inevitably means reducing conflict by
inhibiting the ability of [political] control systems [initiating force or
threat of force] to control in order to provide more ability to others."