Powers, 1998: "[qi] is really a fiction"

[From MK (2014.12.16.0330 CET)]

···

-----

Bill Powers <powers_w@FRONTIER.NET>
Subject: Re: paradox of control?
Date: Sun, 08 Mar 1998 00:11:42 -0700

[From Bill Powers (980307.1759 MST)]

Bruce Nevin (980308.1046 EST)--

[YOU TO MARTIN]

The external variable d can be derived from the observed state of the
controlled variable cv less the observed output o of the control loop into
the environment. It is an external variable, that is, it can be derived by
an analyst from things observed outside the control system.

I appreciate your taking my side here. To derive the external variable
d, the observer must know the nature of Fd, the physical connection
relating d to what Martin calls the "disturbance signal." The function
Fd can be determined only by examining the environment -- not the
control system. Is that what you're saying here?

I think it's time to reassess our basic control-system diagram. The
problem that is creating all our difficulties is this variable we're
calling qi. That variable is really a fiction, one we use because we
can't observe anyone else's perceptual signals. As long as people keep
their control models simple, as we do in the tracking experiments,
there is no problem. But as soon as we start looking too hard at qi,
and treating it as something that really exists in the environment,
confusion appears.

The real situation (as I see it) is the one I portrayed in the Science
article, where the environment is shown as a collection of variables
designated as "v's". The output of the control system affects some of
these v's, and others of these v's affect the input to the control
system's input function. Effects of output on input are relayed via
interactions among the v's.

The input function creates a perceptual signal p which is a function
of some subset of the v's. Since it is the perceptual signal that is
controlled, that is what we should talk about as the controlled
variable. It doesn't exist in the environment; the environment of this
system consists only of v's.

So where, starting with this model, does the idea of the input
quantity come from, an input quantity that is controlled instead of a
collection of v's? It comes from the observer. The observer receives
inputs from the same or a similar collection of v's, and the
observer's perceptual input function combines them to generate a
perceptual signal. It is this perceptual signal that the observer
calls "qi" and projects, conceptually, into the environment to take
the place of the collection of v's.

Example:

The control system receives two signals, one indicating the position
of the target and the other indicating the position of the cursor. The
perceptual input function generates a perceptual signal that
represents "target minus cursor" position along some axis. This
"distance" signal is what is controlled.

When the observer looks at the same display screen, the observer also
receives two signals, representing the positions of target and cursor.
The observer's perceptual input function constructs a perceptual
signal p that also corresponds to a "distance." The observer, like the
control system, thus perceives not just two position signals, but a
single "distance" signal.

So the observer and the control system would both agree: there is
something called "distance between cursor and target" out there in the
world, and both would agree that the control system is controlling it.
They will even agree when perturbations of "distance" occur.

But there is no "distance," and that's where the current arguments are
taking us off the track. There are only two perceptual signals at the
same level, the one in the control system and the one in the observer
that the observer refers to as qi, or the "CEV" or "CCEV." We deal
with the environment from the standpoint of a system that receives
signals representing spatial locations: position of the hand and
mouse, position of cursor, position of target. And we combine the
positions of the cursor and target to define a controlled perception
that is the distance between them.

This is all about the relationship of directly perceived reality to
the constructs we call "physical reality." I have by no means worked
out all the details of this relationship. I don't think I could model
any complex control process in a way that would completely avoid
attributing external reality to some of my own perceptions. This is
something that will take a long time to work out, and in the process I
think we will change not only psychology but physics.

I began this commentary with a strong sense of insight; most of it has
evaporated, but there is still at least a sense of having identified
part of a problem.

Best,

Bill P.

-----

M

Ahh shucks! I feel like a ping pong ball! I still feel, like Bruce, that there must be an objective reality out their whose properties are being controlled, with more or less accuracy depending on the tightness of our perceptual functions. Life depends on it! If it is not controlled, what are our actions 'doing' to it?
Warren

···

On 16 Dec 2014, at 02:30, MK (perceptualposts@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) <csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> wrote:

[From MK (2014.12.16.0330 CET)]

-----

Bill Powers <powers_w@FRONTIER.NET>
Subject: Re: paradox of control?
Date: Sun, 08 Mar 1998 00:11:42 -0700

[From Bill Powers (980307.1759 MST)]

Bruce Nevin (980308.1046 EST)--

[YOU TO MARTIN]

The external variable d can be derived from the observed state of the
controlled variable cv less the observed output o of the control loop into
the environment. It is an external variable, that is, it can be derived by
an analyst from things observed outside the control system.

I appreciate your taking my side here. To derive the external variable
d, the observer must know the nature of Fd, the physical connection
relating d to what Martin calls the "disturbance signal." The function
Fd can be determined only by examining the environment -- not the
control system. Is that what you're saying here?

I think it's time to reassess our basic control-system diagram. The
problem that is creating all our difficulties is this variable we're
calling qi. That variable is really a fiction, one we use because we
can't observe anyone else's perceptual signals. As long as people keep
their control models simple, as we do in the tracking experiments,
there is no problem. But as soon as we start looking too hard at qi,
and treating it as something that really exists in the environment,
confusion appears.

The real situation (as I see it) is the one I portrayed in the Science
article, where the environment is shown as a collection of variables
designated as "v's". The output of the control system affects some of
these v's, and others of these v's affect the input to the control
system's input function. Effects of output on input are relayed via
interactions among the v's.

The input function creates a perceptual signal p which is a function
of some subset of the v's. Since it is the perceptual signal that is
controlled, that is what we should talk about as the controlled
variable. It doesn't exist in the environment; the environment of this
system consists only of v's.

So where, starting with this model, does the idea of the input
quantity come from, an input quantity that is controlled instead of a
collection of v's? It comes from the observer. The observer receives
inputs from the same or a similar collection of v's, and the
observer's perceptual input function combines them to generate a
perceptual signal. It is this perceptual signal that the observer
calls "qi" and projects, conceptually, into the environment to take
the place of the collection of v's.

Example:

The control system receives two signals, one indicating the position
of the target and the other indicating the position of the cursor. The
perceptual input function generates a perceptual signal that
represents "target minus cursor" position along some axis. This
"distance" signal is what is controlled.

When the observer looks at the same display screen, the observer also
receives two signals, representing the positions of target and cursor.
The observer's perceptual input function constructs a perceptual
signal p that also corresponds to a "distance." The observer, like the
control system, thus perceives not just two position signals, but a
single "distance" signal.

So the observer and the control system would both agree: there is
something called "distance between cursor and target" out there in the
world, and both would agree that the control system is controlling it.
They will even agree when perturbations of "distance" occur.

But there is no "distance," and that's where the current arguments are
taking us off the track. There are only two perceptual signals at the
same level, the one in the control system and the one in the observer
that the observer refers to as qi, or the "CEV" or "CCEV." We deal
with the environment from the standpoint of a system that receives
signals representing spatial locations: position of the hand and
mouse, position of cursor, position of target. And we combine the
positions of the cursor and target to define a controlled perception
that is the distance between them.

This is all about the relationship of directly perceived reality to
the constructs we call "physical reality." I have by no means worked
out all the details of this relationship. I don't think I could model
any complex control process in a way that would completely avoid
attributing external reality to some of my own perceptions. This is
something that will take a long time to work out, and in the process I
think we will change not only psychology but physics.

I began this commentary with a strong sense of insight; most of it has
evaporated, but there is still at least a sense of having identified
part of a problem.

Best,

Bill P.

-----

M

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.16.0900)]

···

On Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 3:22 AM, Warren Mansell csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

Ahh shucks! I feel like a ping pong ball! I still feel, like Bruce, that there must be an objective reality out their whose properties are being controlled, with more or less accuracy depending on the tightness of our perceptual functions. Life depends on it! If it is not controlled, what are our actions ‘doing’ to it?

RM: I’ve got to run but I just want to quickly reassure you that you don’t have to feel jerked around. The idea that q.i is a fiction doesn’t deny the existence of objective reality; it simply denies that controlled variables are that environmental reality. Controlled variables are representations of aspects of external reality – the environment. So, like the taste of lemonade, these do not necessarily correspond to anything that physics and chemistry tells us are the environment – the “v’s” in Bill’s Science article diagram of a control system. But they are functions of these v’s and so are, for all intents and purposes, actual properties of the actual environment, just like the area and perimeter of the recangle in my demo.

RM: I think q.i can be considered the observer’s perception of the aspect of the environment that corresponds to the perception that the organism under study is controlling. You have to be in a real philosophical mood to not think that q.i (such as the area of the rectangle) is not an environmental variable.

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.17.14.41]

Ahh shucks! I feel like a ping pong ball! I still feel, like Bruce, that there must be an objective reality out their whose properties are being controlled, with more or less accuracy depending on the tightness of our perceptual functions. Life depends on it! If it is not controlled, what are our actions 'doing' to it?
Warren

What they are doing to it is protecting you from dangers to life, or more properly dangers to the propagation of your genes, and providing opportunities to enhance your survival and the propagation of your genes down through the ages.

There's a rather large conceptual gap between X being _controlled_ and X being set to a given value. For X to be controlled, there must be a desired value for X, an "error" that is a difference between that value and the actual value of X, and a means to reduce the error. This is true of the perception in a control loop. It is not true of the correlated environmental variable. One might better say that the environmental variable is "commanded" to take on a particular value, though the connotations of that word are not exactly right.

For survival, it is not necessary that the environmental variable defined by a controlled perception be exactly the thing that is dangerous. Control of perception X means that Xe (the defined Complex Environmental Variable --CEV) is equally stabilized, provided all of the inputs from Xe to produce X come directly from the senses and the functional relationship doesn't change over time. However, any other variable sufficiently correlated with Xe is also stabilized to a greater or lesser degree. If the danger is Xd and one controls X, the stabilization of Xe, related to Xd, may well protect one from the danger.

Here's a practical example. Toxins in rotten meat can kill. If one controls a perception of smell so as to avoid a smell associated with rotten meat, those toxins will not harm you. The same is true if one avoids eating meat that looks green. In neither case is the perception controlled actually based on the presence of the toxin in the meat (which could have been harmlessly painted green and daubed with a smelly liquid), but it is good enough for the purpose of protecting you from a possible danger to your life (and the further propagation of your genes down through the ages).

If (and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then both are similarly stabilized and vary according to variations in the reference level. That fact is irrelevant to the fact that what happens in the real world is what will kill you or support you. The CEV in the real world that is influenced by the output of a control system only has to influence possible dangers or opportunities in useful ways. You don't have to be able even to perceive, let alone to control a perception of those dangers.

Martin

···

On 2014/12/16 6:22 AM, Warren Mansell (wmansell@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

Thanks Martin. I appreciate a neat discussion of the exceptions to my rather scant argument! So you said: [If (and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then both are similarly stabilized and vary according to variations in the reference level]. So in this case the CEV is ‘controlled’?
Warren

···

On Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 8:06 PM, Martin Taylor csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

Ahh shucks! I feel like a ping pong ball! I still feel, like Bruce, that there must be an objective reality out their whose properties are being controlled, with more or less accuracy depending on the tightness of our perceptual functions. Life depends on it! If it is not controlled, what are our actions ‘doing’ to it?

Warren

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.17.14.41]

On 2014/12/16 6:22 AM, Warren Mansell (wmansell@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

What they are doing to it is protecting you from dangers to life, or more properly dangers to the propagation of your genes, and providing opportunities to enhance your survival and the propagation of your genes down through the ages.

There’s a rather large conceptual gap between X being controlled and X being set to a given value. For X to be controlled, there must be a desired value for X, an “error” that is a difference between that value and the actual value of X, and a means to reduce the error. This is true of the perception in a control loop. It is not true of the correlated environmental variable. One might better say that the environmental variable is “commanded” to take on a particular value, though the connotations of that word are not exactly right.

For survival, it is not necessary that the environmental variable defined by a controlled perception be exactly the thing that is dangerous. Control of perception X means that Xe (the defined Complex Environmental Variable --CEV) is equally stabilized, provided all of the inputs from Xe to produce X come directly from the senses and the functional relationship doesn’t change over time. However, any other variable sufficiently correlated with Xe is also stabilized to a greater or lesser degree. If the danger is Xd and one controls X, the stabilization of Xe, related to Xd, may well protect one from the danger.

Here’s a practical example. Toxins in rotten meat can kill. If one controls a perception of smell so as to avoid a smell associated with rotten meat, those toxins will not harm you. The same is true if one avoids eating meat that looks green. In neither case is the perception controlled actually based on the presence of the toxin in the meat (which could have been harmlessly painted green and daubed with a smelly liquid), but it is good enough for the purpose of protecting you from a possible danger to your life (and the further propagation of your genes down through the ages).

If (and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then both are similarly stabilized and vary according to variations in the reference level. That fact is irrelevant to the fact that what happens in the real world is what will kill you or support you. The CEV in the real world that is influenced by the output of a control system only has to influence possible dangers or opportunities in useful ways. You don’t have to be able even to perceive, let alone to control a perception of those dangers.

Martin

Dr Warren Mansell
Reader in Clinical Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
2nd Floor Zochonis Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
Email: warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 8589

Website: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/131406

See teamstrial.net for further information on our trial of CBT for Bipolar Disorders in NW England

The highly acclaimed therapy manual on A Transdiagnostic Approach to CBT using Method of Levels is available now.

Check www.pctweb.org for further information on Perceptual Control Theory

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.17.17.39]

I would rather strongly say "No", since neither the reference value

nor the error value is available in the environment. However, in the
loose everyday way of using the word “control” that has led to so
much confusion over the last month, I suppose people would say the
CEV was controlled. To me, that’s much the same as saying that your
perceptions are the content of your consciousness. In everyday
speech it is true. In control theory (including PCT) it isn’t.
In PCT the basic element is an Elementary Control Unit (ECU) that
has just four components linked like this:
If some input to the PIF generates an output from the output
function, then the perception is being controlled, __.
If the output doesn’t actually influence the perception, control is
simply ineffective. However, reorganization is likely to make it
more effective over time. That will change the effectiveness of the
control, but not whether the control exists.
Powers made the point that for control to exist, the gain of the
output function must substantially exceed that of the PIF (LCS I,
251). So I suppose one should include that proviso as well, before
deciding that control exists.
Martin

ECU.jpg

···

On 2014/12/17 4:55 PM, Warren Mansell
wrote:

    Thanks Martin. I appreciate a neat discussion of

the exceptions to my rather scant argument! So you said: [ If (and only if) the CEV in a control
loop is functionally related to the CV (the perception) in a
stable way, then both are similarly stabilized and vary
according to variations in the reference level]. So in this
case the CEV is ‘controlled’?
Warren

*** whether or
not the output actually influences the perceptual value***

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.17.1615)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.17.14.41)--

MT: Here's a practical example. Toxins in rotten meat can kill. If one controls a perception of smell so as to avoid a smell associated with rotten meat, those toxins will not harm you. The same is true if one avoids eating meat that looks green. In neither case is the perception controlled actually based on the presence of the toxin in the meat (which could have been harmlessly painted green and daubed with a smelly liquid), but it is good enough for the purpose of protecting you from a possible danger to your life (and the further propagation of your genes down through the ages).

RM: In this example, what is the CV and what is the CEV?

MT: If (and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then both are similarly stabilized and vary according to variations in the reference level.

RM: In the diagram in FIgure A.1 in B:CP, which variable corresponds to what you are calling the CEV and which corresponds to the CV?
Best
Rick

···

That fact is irrelevant to the fact that what happens in the real world is what will kill you or support you. The CEV in the real world that is influenced by the output of a control system only has to influence possible dangers or opportunities in useful ways. You don't have to be able even to perceive, let alone to control a perception of those dangers.

Martin

--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.17.23.07]

Depends whether one is controlling a perception (CV) of the smell

(bad smell reference value low), in which case the CEV presumably is
some combination of airborne molecules, or the sight of colour of
the meat in which case the CV might be a perception of food with a
colour with an avoidance reference value (a topic I wanted to
introduce on CSGnet a while back and decided not to) of “green
meat”. Bill dealt with avoidance reference values by inverting the
perception and turning the avoidance control into an approach to the
inverse. Maybe that’s a general way to do it, maybe not. If so, then
we could perhaps say the perception (CV) is the “un-green-ness” of
the meat. The CEV is still the same, something in the environment
that looks like meat other than being green.
However, as you are aware, one can’t really tell the CV, but one can
often find some environmental variable closely related to the one
actually defined by the perceptual function that produces the
controlled perception, by using the Test for the Controlled
Variable. In this case, I suppose you would have to do a bunch of
tests with different smells and colours (and, I guess textures) of
meat.
qi is CEV and p is CV. But I don’t think that diagram applies
directly to the complex situation in which the CEV is defined by the
perceptual function. MK’s quote from Bill explains why.
Incidentally, I find it quite interesting to try to figure out the
relationships among the following posts:
[From Rick Marken (2014.12.15.1730)] with which I totally disagree,
[From Rick Marken (2014.12.15.1910)] with which I largely agree, and
[From Rick Marken (2014.12.16.0900)] with which I think I totally
agree.
And these are all on the same topic and posted within 15 hours!
I imagine Rick can find a way to make these posts seem to agree with
one another, but it seems to me that in the space of 15 hours his
position rotated 180 degrees.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.17.1615)]

          Martin

Taylor (2014.12.17.14.41)–

          MT: Here's a practical example. Toxins in rotten

meat can kill. If one controls a perception of smell so as
to avoid a smell associated with rotten meat, those toxins
will not harm you. The same is true if one avoids eating
meat that looks green. In neither case is the perception
controlled actually based on the presence of the toxin in
the meat (which could have been harmlessly painted green
and daubed with a smelly liquid), but it is good enough
for the purpose of protecting you from a possible danger
to your life (and the further propagation of your genes
down through the ages).

          RM: In this example, what is the CV and what is the

CEV?

          MT: If

(and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally
related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then
both are similarly stabilized and vary according to
variations in the reference level.

          RM: In the diagram in FIgure A.1 in B:CP, which

variable corresponds to what you are calling the CEV and
which corresponds to the CV?

Hi Martin, I have had a think about the smelly toxin example! What if another person is trying to push the food with toxin in towards your mouth? Even though you are controlling for smell, the successful actions will be ones that push the toxin away. So in that sense there will be control over the food with toxin in that is happening BECAUSE you are controlling for the smell of the toxin. So control of EVs seems to occur, to some degree, during control of perception.

I am proposing that potentially all instances of control in the environment are achieved BY the control of perception, but the two are still not the same thing. If they were, we would struggle to test PCT against reality and against other theories.

I think you agree with us that what is happening to the EV is not the same as what is happening to the controll
ed perception. I think the only real difference to our opinions is our willingness to still call that thing that is happening to the EV ‘control’, and your unwillingness to do so. I see perceptual control as a subset of all instances of possible things that a person could call control (venn diagram with two concentric rings) and you see them as the same - just one ring.

Don’t you think that’s the only real point of debate? A minor one that causes a lot of hot fuss?

Warren

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.17.1615)]

          Martin

Taylor (2014.12.17.14.41)–

          MT: Here's a practical example. Toxins in rotten

meat can kill. If one controls a perception of smell so as
to avoid a smell associated with rotten meat, those toxins
will not harm you. The same is true if one avoids eating
meat that looks green. In neither case is the perception
controlled actually based on the presence of the toxin in
the meat (which could have been harmlessly painted green
and daubed with a smelly liquid), but it is good enough
for the purpose of protecting you from a possible danger
to your life (and the further propagation of your genes
down through the ages).

          RM: In this example, what is the CV and what is the

CEV?

          MT: If

(and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally
related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then
both are similarly stabilized and vary according to
variations in the reference level.

          RM: In the diagram in FIgure A.1 in B:CP, which

variable corresponds to what you are calling the CEV and
which corresponds to the CV?

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.18.10.35]

You have the key words there in your last sentence in two distinct

phrases: “seems to occur” and “to some degree”.
Again, you have a key clause: “the two are not the same thing”.
My unwillingness to do so is only because I observed how much
confusion and apparent disagreement was caused by using the same
word “control” for two different concepts, followed by using the
argument that since the word was the same, the concepts were the
same. It’s an old philosopher’s trick that keeps a lot of them
employed because of the ability of the trick to divide them into
schools. (And it’s not far, in principle, from the trick that
somewhere early in maths education many teachers use to prove that 1
= 2, using a surreptitious division by zero that the student is
thereby primed to notice in later independent analyses).
No, I don’t. My observation of a lot of hot fuss was what initiated
my original intervention to insist that if we are talking PCT,
“control” was of perception and only of perception, despite the
everyday use of the term to refer to the deliberate stabilization of
things in the environment (just as “perception” means something
different in PCT and in everyday language).
Here’s another kind of example to illustrate the difference. About
50 years ago I did a series of tracking studies on the motion
after-effect (sometimes called the “waterfall effect”), using a
slowly rotating ring and disc; the studies were reported in, if you
want to know the details:
Tracking the decay of the after-effect of seen movement. Percep.
Mot. Skills.,1963, 16, 119-129
Tracking the neutralization of seen rotary movement. Percep. Mot.
Skills.,1963, 16, 513-519
Tracking the rotary motion aftereffect with different illuminations
of inspection and test fields. Percep. Mot. Skills., 1964, 18,
885-888 (with P.L.Ross)
In these experiments, the subject looked from a distance of maybe 8
feet at a disk of about 1 foot diameter and a surrounding ring
perhaps 6 inches wide, both made of white card dappled with black
spots (distance and sizes from memory). The disc and ring could
rotate independently, but for the purpose of this message, think of
only the ring rotating. The subject (S) looked at the middle of the disc while the ring
rotated at a constant speed for a time between a few seconds and a
few minutes. Then the subject took control of the rotation speed of
the ring, and for the next several minutes tried to keep it at zero.
The actual speed as reported by a meter approached zero by a
double-exponential decay (I mean an initial fast decay followed by a
slow long-term decay, both following an exponential very closely.
The second, long slow, decay showed itself over the measurement
noise only if the initial exposure had been pretty long).
During this period, S was controlling a perception (CV) of the
rotary velocity of the ring, and according to verbal report (and my
own experience as S) was easily able to keep it very close to zero,
but the environmental velocity (CEV) was far from being kept near
zero. If someone had simply come into the room at the moment when S
took control of the ring speed, they would have observed the subject
very carefully “controlling” the ring speed to follow a pretty exact
exponential for a few seconds or tens of seconds, followed for a
long time by a pretty exact slower exponential approach to zero.
S in these experiments had no idea about these exponential declines
in the ring velocity. All S controlled was the perception of the
rotary speed with a reference value of zero. Control of the CV was
not the same as control of the CEV, because of the violation of the
condition I have mentioned more than once in this thread and its
ancestors, that the CEV appears to be controlled if AND ONLY IF the
CV has a stable functional relationship with the CEV. In this
experiment, it doesn’t.
One other point about these experiments. Many of the Ss commented,
and I can attest, that although the ring might be perceived to have
zero velocity, it was simultaneously perceived as continually
changing its rotary position. The perception of velocity was
decoupled from the mathematically identical perception of rate of
change of position, and it felt rather odd. Now, it would be quite
easy to replicate this experiment on a screen. Fifty years ago,
getting the mechanics smooth at these slow speeds was a major
challenge for our workshop, and the remaining tiny slack may well
have contributed to the measurement noise, the meter’s “perception”
not representing exactly the physical rotation speed of the
apparatus.
Back to my main point, which is that observing that the subject
controlled a beautiful exponential time-track of rotary velocity
would have been misleading evidence that people can control such
mathematically defined velocity profiles. Observing “the fact of
control” in the environment is OK in colloquial speech. It’s not OK
when using the term this way results in confusion about PCT,
particularly among lurkers and others who do not have years of
experience in developing an understanding of the theory. One can
definitely control one’s perception of another’s behaviour, but one
cannot control another’s behaviour, for all the reasons various
contributors have mentioned.
Martin

···

On 2014/12/18 1:36 AM, Warren Mansell
( via csgnet Mailing List) wrote:

wmansell@gmail.com

    Hi Martin, I have had a think about the smelly toxin example!

What if another person is trying to push the food with toxin in
towards your mouth? Even though you are controlling for smell,
the successful actions will be ones that push the toxin away. So
in that sense there will be control over the food with toxin in
that is happening BECAUSE you are controlling for the smell of
the toxin. So control of EVs seems to occur, to some degree,
during control of perception.

    I am proposing that potentially all instances of control in

the environment are achieved BY the control of perception, but
the two are still not the same thing. If they were, we would
struggle to test PCT against reality and against other theories.

    I think you agree with us that what is happening to the EV is

not the same as what is happening to the controll ed perception.
I think the only real difference to our opinions is our
willingness to still call that thing that is happening to the EV
‘control’, and your unwillingness to do so.

    I see perceptual control as a subset of all instances of

possible things that a person could call control (venn diagram
with two concentric rings) and you see them as the same - just
one ring.

    Don't you think that's the only real point of debate? A minor

one that causes a lot of hot fuss?

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.19.1230)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12.17.23.07)--

MT: If (and only if) the CEV in a control loop is functionally related to the CV (the perception) in a stable way, then both are similarly stabilized and vary according to variations in the reference level.

RM: In the diagram in FIgure A.1 in B:CP, which variable corresponds to what you are calling the CEV and which corresponds to the CV?

MT: qi is CEV and p is CV.

RM: The CEV (q.i) is always functionally related to the CV (p) in a stable way because the CV and CEV are the same variable, just seen from different points of view. What you call the CEV is the CV as seen by an observer of the system controlling the CV. And the CV is the CEV seen from the perspective of the control system itself. So the idea that there is a CEV that is controlled separately from the CV is simply not part of the PCT model. That's what Bill's 1998 post "[qi] is really a fiction" was all about. I think Bill states it most clearly here:

BP: So where, starting with this model, does the idea of the input quantity [q.i, CEV] come from, an input quantity that is controlled instead of a collection of v's? It comes from the observer. The observer receives inputs from the same or a similar collection of v's, and the observer's perceptual input function combines them to generate a perceptual signal. It is this perceptual signal that the observer calls "qi" and projects, conceptually, into the environment to take the place of the collection of v's.

RM: So q.i (CEV) and p (CV) are actually the same perception in different individuals, one (q.i) in the observer of the control system and the other (p) in the control system itself. Failure to understand this point could lead one to mistakenly conclude that the CEV and CV are two different controlled variables, one a variable controlled in the environment (CEV) and the other a variable controlled as a perception (CV).

MT: Incidentally, I find it quite interesting to try to figure out the relationships among the following posts:

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.15.1730)] with which I totally disagree,
[From Rick Marken (2014.12.15.1910)] with which I largely agree, and
[From Rick Marken (2014.12.16.0900)] with which I think I totally agree.

MT: And these are all on the same topic and posted within 15 hours!

MT: I imagine Rick can find a way to make these posts seem to agree with one another, but it seems to me that in the space of 15 hours his position rotated 180 degrees.

RM: I think I have been guilty of being unclear because it is kind of hard to talk about these things without introducing some confusion. The main source of confusion, I think, has been my willingness to talk about the CEV (q.i) as though it were a variable in the environment of the control system. I've tried to avoid this confusion by talking only about the CEV as a perception of some "aspect of the environment". But that doesn't really solve the problem because we do perceive controlled variables as being in the environment of the control system. For example, we see the distance between target and cursor as a variable in the environment of the person doing a tracking task. So the distance between target and cursor can be called a CEV (q.i) but we have to keep in mind that this is a fiction; the CEV is not a variable in the "real" environment beyond our senses; it is our perception that we believe corresponds to the perception (p, the CV) controlled by the person doing the tracking task.
RM: I think we can avoid future confusion by keeping in mind that the term "environment" in "controlled environmental variable" refers, not to the "real" environment that presumably exists on the other side of our senses but, rather, to the fact that the observer perceives the variable q.i as being "outside" of the control system -- in it's environment. Indeed, we might be able to avoid some confusion by just ceasing to use the term "controlled environmental variable" (CEV) and refer to q.i as simply the "input variable" or "the aspect of the environment that is controlled by the control system" or, best of all, just "controlled variable"(CV) since q.i is the CV from the observer's perspective.
RM: One more point about q.i is that, while it is a perception in the observer, it need not be a perception that is derived only from the observer's sensory/perceptual system. It is often the case, especially when doing PCT research, that q.i is derived, at least in part, from data from sensory/ perceptual systems other than those in the observer. This is particularly true when the variable q.i can't even be sensed by the observer, as is the case of bat echolocation, for example.
Best
Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.19.17.45]

A long time ago, we were very careful about distinguishing different

viewpoints. Possible viewpoints include the controller’s viewpoint,
from which ONLY the perceptual variable is available, the observer’s
viewpoint, from which ONLY the environmental consequences of control
are available, and the analyst’s viewpoint, from which all the
variables in a control loop are always available. In this case, from
the controller’s viewpoint there is only what the analyst would see
as the CV, and from the observer’s viewpoint there is only what the
analyst would see as the CEV. They are not the same variable. To see that they are not the same variable, consider the experiment
I described in [Martin Taylor 2014.12.18.10.35]. Throughout the
decay of the after-effect, the subject’s perception is that the ring
is NOT rotating. From the observer’s viewpoint, it is. The analyst
sees that the relation between the CV and the CEV keeps changing.
Another way to see that they are different is to use Rick’s words in
this same message:
I did try to make that point earlier, but at that time Rick
vehemently denied it. But I say that he is correct this time.
That’s correct.
I’ve been trying, with very little success, to get across that fact.
The CEV is NOT controlled. What the CEV does is a CONSEQUENCE of the
CV being controlled.
I suppose there might be a way to wire two heads together so as to
produce the same perception in both, but I don’t think medical
technology is up to it yet. However, that an observer cannot know
what variables contribute to the perceptual variable being
controlled in no way proves that such variables don’t exist. What is
fictional about qi is the supposition that it can be determined by
an outside observer. It can’t, any more than the Test for the
Controlled Variable can do any better than finding some function of
observable properties that correlated well with the actual
controlled variable.
It is perfectly true that the perceptual function defines the CEV,
and that so long as the perceptual function doesn’t change, their
values are rigidly linked. That’s why the CEV looks to an observer
as though it is controlled, even though the observer cannot see its
reference value or the effect of the error between the actual and
reference values of the CEV.
No, what it does is lead one to mistakenly conclude that the CEV is
controlled. There’s only one variable controlled in a basic control
loop (from the analyst’s viewpoint). The CEV is just something that
might or might not be perceptible to an observer, but is a state of
the outer world that IS perceptible to the controller, and exists in
the perception of the analysis.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.19.1230)]

            Martin Taylor

(2014.12.17.23.07)–

                        MT:

If (and only if) the CEV in a control loop
is functionally related to the CV (the
perception) in a stable way, then both are
similarly stabilized and vary according to
variations in the reference level.

                        RM: In the diagram in FIgure A.1 in B:CP,

which variable corresponds to what you are
calling the CEV and which corresponds to the
CV?

MT: qi is CEV and p is CV.

          RM: The CEV (q.i) is always functionally related to the

CV § in a stable way because the CV and CEV are ** the
same variable** , just seen from different points of
view. What you call the CEV is the CV as seen by an
observer of the system controlling the CV.

    RM: One more point about q.i  is that,

while it is a perception in the observer, it need not be a
perception that is derived only from the observer’s
sensory/perceptual system. It is often the case, especially when
doing PCT research, that q.i is derived, at least in part, from
data from sensory/ perceptual systems other than those in the
observer. This is particularly true when the variable q.i can’t
even be sensed by the observer, as is the case of bat
echolocation, for example.

          And the CV is the CEV seen from the perspective of the

control system itself.

          So the idea that there is a CEV that is controlled

separately from the CV is simply not part of the PCT
model.

          That's what Bill's 1998 post "[qi] is really a fiction"

was all about. I think Bill states it most clearly here:

            BP: So where, starting with this

model, does the idea of the input quantity [q.i, CEV] come from, an
input quantity that is controlled instead of a collection of v’s? It comes from
the observer. The observer receives inputs from the same or a similar
collection of v’s, and the observer’s perceptual input
function combines them to generate a perceptual signal. It is this
perceptual signal that the observer calls “qi” and projects,
conceptually, into the environment to take the place of the collection of
v’s.

RM: So q.i (CEV) and p (CV) are actually the ** same
perception** in different individuals, one (q.i) in
the observer of the control system and the other § in
the control system itself.

          Failure to understand this point could lead one to

mistakenly conclude that the CEV and CV are two different
controlled variables, one a variable controlled in the
environment (CEV) and the other a variable controlled as a
perception (CV).

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.20.1115)]

···

Martin Taylor (2014.12.19.17.45)–

MT: ...In this case, from

the controller’s viewpoint there is only what the analyst would see
as the CV, and from the observer’s viewpoint there is only what the
analyst would see as the CEV. They are not the same variable.

RM: Actually, they are the same, by definition (per Figure A-1 in B:CP).

MT: To see that they are not the same variable, consider the experiment

I described in [Martin Taylor 2014.12.18.10.35]. Throughout the
decay of the after-effect, the subject’s perception is that the ring
is NOT rotating. From the observer’s viewpoint, it is. The analyst
sees that the relation between the CV and the CEV keeps changing.

RM: What you (the observer) are measuring in this experiment is not q.i, the variable the subject is controlling. In your experiment, because the subject is adapted and the observer isn’t, the subject is perceiving and controlling something different than what the observer is perceiving.

MT: I've been trying, with very little success, to get across that fact.

The CEV is NOT controlled. What the CEV does is a CONSEQUENCE of the
CV being controlled.

RM: Perhaps your lack of success at getting across the “fact” that the CEV is NOT controlled comes from calling the CEV a CEV ( CONTROLLED environmental variable). If, in fact, what you call the CEV is NOT controlled then perhaps it would be better to call it the “UNCONTROLLED environmental variable” (UEV). Then it would be clear that your UEV is not equivalent to q.i (the controlled variable in Figure A-1 of B:CP) and we would have no problem. The UEV is what has been called an irrelevant side effect of controlling and it is not shown in figure A-1.

RM: However, I think what you might have in mind as a CEVs is actually the variables called “Physiological Effects” in Figure 14.1 of B:CP. These Physiological Effects (also called “Intrinsic Variables”) are, indeed, uncontrolled consequences of perceptual control. For example, blood glucose level is a variable that is an uncontrolled consequence of controlling for the perceptions involved in eating food. As shown in figure 14.1 Intrinsic Variables (Physiological Effects), such as blood glucose level, are presumed to be controlled by the reorganization system which “tunes” the perceptual control hierarchy to control perceptions (like the perception of sweetness) that, as a side effect, keep these Intrinsic Variables at their genetically set “Intrinsic” reference levels.

MT: I suppose there might be a way to wire two heads together so as to

produce the same perception in both, but I don’t think medical
technology is up to it yet.

RM: I meant “same” in the sense of “equivalent”. A CV § and what you call a CEV (and said was equivalent to q.i) are “the same” in the sense that they are functionally equivalent. For example, the CV and CEV are “the same” when what the system is controlling is

CV = p = f(v.1,v.2…v.n) (1)

and what the observer sees the system controlling is

CEV = q.i = g(v.1,v.2…v.n) (2)

where the v.i are environmental variables and f() = g(). The functions, f() and g() have different names to show that they are in different individuals, (f() in the control system, g() in the observer. But f() and g() are functionally equivalent in that they result in the same perception of the same aspect of the environment.

MT: However, that an observer cannot know

what variables contribute to the perceptual variable being
controlled in no way proves that such variables don’t exist. What is
fictional about qi is the supposition that it can be determined by
an outside observer .

RM: The ability of an outside observer to determine q.i is not only not fictional, it is the central contribution of PCT to understanding the behavior of living control systems. PCT shows that an observer can determine the perception, p, a control system is controlling in terms of the observer’s own perception, q.i, using The Test for the Controlled Variable (TCV). Indeed, the aim of the TCV is for the observer to find a way to perceive (in terms their own perceptual function g() in equation (2)) what the system is perceiving and controlling (in terms of its perceptual function f() in equation (1).) That is, the aim of the TCV is to find g() that matches f().

MT: It is perfectly true that the perceptual function defines the CEV,

and that so long as the perceptual function doesn’t change, their
values are rigidly linked.

RM: Changes in the perceptual function change the CV and the definition of the CEV (as they do in your motion adaptation experiment). The perceptual function is always “rigidly linked” to the CEV because it is the CEV. The perceptual function is a property of the control system under study; the CEV is the observer’s perception of the CV defined by the control system’s perceptual function.

RM: The only time that the CEV (the observer’s view of the CV) differs from the perceptual function is when the observer labels their own perception of a situation as the CEV that the control system is actually trying to control. This is what happened in your adaptation experiment. You (the observer) asked the subject to control the rate of rotation of the ring, keeping it at 0. You could see that the rate of rotation of the ring was not being kept at 0. So you called your perception of the rate of rotation the CEV when, in fact, the rate of rotation you saw (and measured) was a variable that the subject was not controlling; it was not the variable labeled q.i in Figure A-1. The rate of rotation you observed, in other words, was not the variable controlled by the subject. In terms of the TCV what you learned from this study is simply that your perception of the rate of rotation of the ring was not the variable the subject was controlling; it was a UEV, not a CEV.

MT: That's why the CEV looks to an observer

as though it is controlled, even though the observer cannot see its
reference value or the effect of the error between the actual and
reference values of the CEV.

RM: It’s impossible for a CEV to appear to be controlled when it’s not. If what you call the CEV is not actually under control then it is not a CE. It is just an uncontrolled environmental variable (UEV) that happens to appear to be controlled, probably because variations in that variable are highly correlated with variations in the actual CEV. This is why the TCV is not a “one shot” affair but, rather, a research approach aimed at getting a more and more precise definition of the CEV (the function g() in equation 2). That’s what is demonstrated by the experiment in Ch. 4 of "Doing Research on Purpose (affectionately known as DRoP). Casual observation suggests that the distance between cursor and target (t-c) is the perceptual variable controlled (the CEV or q.i) in a tracking task. But more detailed testing, using a model-based version of the TCV, suggests that the variable controlled in a tracking task is more like arcsin((t-c)/s). In other words, the function g() that corresponds to the perceptual function, f(), of a subject doing the tracking task is more like arcsin((t-c)/s) than (t-c).

MT: No, what it does is lead one to mistakenly conclude that the CEV is

controlled.

RM: As I said above, calling the CEV a CEV is what leads one to mistakenly conclude that the CEV is controlled. If the CEV is actually not controlled then it is an uncontrolled environmental variable (UEV). If a variable is found to be a UEV then the goal should be to find the variable that actually is being controlled using the TCV.

MT: There's only one variable controlled in a basic control

loop (from the analyst’s viewpoint).

RM: Yes, it’s the variable called q.i, which you say is the same as your CEV.

MT: The CEV is just something that

might or might not be perceptible to an observer, but is a state of
the outer world that IS perceptible to the controller, and exists in
the perception of the analysis.

RM: Then what you are calling the CEV is not the same as q.i. I would recommend that you make that clear by calling it the UEV. Then we could drop the term CEV (which I never cared for anyway) and just call q.i what it was intended to represent in the first place: the controlled variable (CV), from the observer’s point of view.

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

MT: qi is CEV and p is CV.

          RM: The CEV (q.i) is always functionally related to the

CV § in a stable way because the CV and CEV are ** the
same variable** , just seen from different points of
view.

          RM: So the idea that there is a CEV that is controlled

separately from the CV is simply not part of the PCT
model.

RM: So q.i (CEV) and p (CV) are actually the ** same
perception** in different individuals, one (q.i) in
the observer of the control system and the other § in
the control system itself.

          RM: Failure to understand this point could lead one to

mistakenly conclude that the CEV and CV are two different
controlled variables, one a variable controlled in the environment (CEV) and the other a variable controlled as a
perception (CV).

[Martin Taylor 2014.12.20.14.28]

As I read Figure A.1, p = ki*qi, not p = qi. If you are saying that for all X and Y, X*Y = X, then I suppose your

definition would make sense. My mathematics is different.
A long time ago, Korzybski pointed out that the map is not the
territory. Neither is the perception in Ted’s mind of that object
the same as the actual object that Sam picks up. That is the essence of my point. I think you may be getting it. The
observer can see whatever s/he sees, and never can be sure that it
is the CEV corresponding to whatever the subject is controlling. In
the experiment, the subject is ALWAYS controlling the PERCEPTION of
the ring motion, and is controlling it with a constant reference
value. The observer can see the ring motion and might imagine that
it is being controlled, but the observer’s perception of it differs
from the controller’s perception of it. Both look at the same
physical input (so far as that is ever possible), but perceive
different things. If the CV and the CEV are the same, how could that
happen?
Why do you change the meaning of the acronym? I have NEVER called
the CEV the “controlled” environmental variable. It is A “Complex”
environmental variable, and I have usually made that explicit when
the term hasn’t been used o CSGnet for a while. I have also
corrected people who have used the term differently, which I am
entitled to do since I introduced it in the first place. I wouldn’t
call it the “Controlled Environmental Variable” since I claim that
there is no such thing – the only variables that can be controlled
being perceptual variables.
It is not, but it might be called “Commanded”, since if the
perceptual function is monotonic and invariant, the CEV tracks
exactly the changes in the controlled variable, although perhaps
with some time lag between the changes in one and in the other.
That’s really far afield. I wouldn’t say that it’s “out of left
field” so much as “in a ballpark in a different city”.
Yes, that was my point, wasn’t it? The observer is able to see only
the CEV, and unless the observer is careful, something rather like
the “behavioural illusion” happens. Even though the criteria for
control are not apparent to the observer (the reference value or the
error value, plus the transformation of the error into action), the
observer sees the CEV being stabilized and thinks it is being
controlled, much as the prototype behaviourist sees that the
complexity of the organism is shown in the relationship between the
stimulus and the response.
What utter nonsense!
But this is far from nonsense. It is correct as far as I can see,
and it illustrates why the TCV can at best approximate the
controlled variable. The observer can never know that g() matches
f() exactly, only that by using a particular g(), the perception
defined by that g() has the more or less the right dynamic
properties. What the observer can know is that if g() exactly
matches f(), then the observer’s perceptual control has a measurable
quality according to whatever measure of quality the observer wants
to use.
The CEV does NOT change in the adaptation experiment. The CEV is
always the rotational speed of the ring. The observer may succumb to
the illusion that the ring speed is being controlled with a varying
reference value, when it is actually being controlled with a
constant reference value of zero, but that’s the observer’s problem.
That’s a change. Earlier, the CEV, according to you, was the
controlled variable. Now it’s a function. The first part is true. I’d say that the second part might be true
it you change “observer” to “analyst”.
Enough. If you don’t want to recognize that the appearance of
control without the appearance of the means of control implies that
the appearance is illusory, a mirage, then I can’t help any more. Lord Nelson put the telescope to his blind eye and truthfully told
his Captain “I see no signal” in order to use his plan to win the
Battle of Trafalgar. What battle are you waging by insisting that
what is controlled is not the perceptual signal but something in the
environment? What is the likely result if you win? I think it would
be the reformulation of B:CP into P:CB.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.20.1115)]

            Martin Taylor

(2014.12.19.17.45)–

MT: qi is CEV and p is CV.

                        RM: The CEV (q.i) is always functionally

related to the CV § in a stable way
because the CV and CEV are ** the same
variable** , just seen from different
points of view.

            MT: ...In this case, from the controller's

viewpoint there is only what the analyst would see as
the CV, and from the observer’s viewpoint there is only
what the analyst would see as the CEV. They are not the
same variable.

          RM: Actually, they are the same, by definition (per

Figure A-1 in B:CP).

            MT: To see that they are not the same variable, consider

the experiment I described in [Martin Taylor
2014.12.18.10.35]. Throughout the decay of the
after-effect, the subject’s perception is that the ring
is NOT rotating. From the observer’s viewpoint, it is.
The analyst sees that the relation between the CV and
the CEV keeps changing.

          RM: What you (the observer) are measuring in this

experiment is not q.i, the variable the subject is
controlling. In your experiment, because the subject is
adapted and the observer isn’t, the subject is perceiving
and controlling something different than what the observer
is perceiving.

                        RM: So the idea that there is a CEV that

is controlled separately from the CV is
simply not part of the PCT model.

            MT: I've been trying, with very little success,

to get across that fact. The CEV is NOT controlled. What
the CEV does is a CONSEQUENCE of the CV being
controlled.

          RM: Perhaps your lack of success at getting across the

“fact” that the CEV is NOT controlled comes from calling
the CEV a CEV ( CONTROLLED environmental variable).

If, in fact, what you call the CEV is NOT controlled

          RM:  However, I think what you might have in mind as a

CEVs is actually the variables called “Physiological
Effects” in Figure 14.1 of B:CP. These Physiological
Effects (also called “Intrinsic Variables”) are, indeed,
uncontrolled consequences of perceptual control.

                        RM: So q.i (CEV) and p (CV) are actually

the same perception in different
individuals, one (q.i) in the observer of
the control system and the other § in the
control system itself.

            MT: I suppose there might be a way to wire two

heads together so as to produce the same perception in
both, but I don’t think medical technology is up to it
yet.

          RM: I meant "same" in the sense of "equivalent". A CV

§ and what you call a CEV (and said was equivalent to
q.i) are “the same” in the sense that they are
functionally equivalent. For example, the CV and CEV are
“the same” when what the system is controlling is

CV = p = f(v.1,v.2…v.n) (1)

and what the observer sees the system controlling is

CEV = q.i = g(v.1,v.2…v.n) (2)

            MT: However, that an

observer cannot know what variables contribute to the
perceptual variable being controlled in no way proves
that such variables don’t exist. What is fictional about
qi is the supposition that it can be determined by an
outside observer .

          RM: The ability of an outside observer to determine q.i

is not only not fictional, it is the central contribution
of PCT to understanding the behavior of living control
systems.

          PCT shows that an observer can determine the

perception, p, a control system is controlling in terms of
the observer’s own perception, q.i, using The Test for the
Controlled Variable (TCV). Indeed, the aim of the TCV is
for the observer to find a way to perceive (in terms their
own perceptual function g() in equation (2)) what the
system is perceiving and controlling (in terms of its
perceptual function f() in equation (1).) That is, the aim
of the TCV is to find g() that matches f().

            MT: It is perfectly

true that the perceptual function defines the CEV, and
that so long as the perceptual function doesn’t change,
their values are rigidly linked.

          RM: Changes in the perceptual function change the CV

and the definition of the CEV (as they do in your motion
adaptation experiment).

          The perceptual function is always "rigidly linked" to

the CEV because it is the CEV.

          The perceptual function is a property of the control

system under study; the CEV is the observer’s perception
of the CV defined by the control system’s perceptual
function.

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.23.1850)]

···

Martin Taylor (2014.12.20.14.28)–

MT: As I read Figure A.1, p = ki*qi, not p = qi.

RM: Yes, that’s because qi is a fiction; there really is no variable qi out there in the environment. Bill created the fiction of qi to simplify the functional analysis of closed loop control in the Appendix of B:CP that contains Figure A-1. By letting qi represent a perceived aspect of the environment it was possible to represent the perceptual input function in the control system analysis as a simple constant, ki. In fact, the perceptual input functions in living systems are much more complex than a constant of proportionality; so ki is also a fiction; a simple constant that stands in for the neural networks that transform the sensory effects of environmental variables, vi, into perceptions of things like colors, objects, relationships, etc.

RM: A better way to represent the perceptual processes assumed by the PCT model (rather than representing them as ki) is the way it’s done in Figure 1 of the Science paper (reprinted on p. 66 of LCS I) where there is no qi in the environment; just environmental variables, vi. The vi are turned into perceptions by the perceptual input function (called the “Sensor Function” in Figure 1 on p. 66).

MT: A long time ago, Korzybski pointed out that the map is not the

territory. Neither is the perception in Ted’s mind of that object
the same as the actual object that Sam picks up.

RM: Korzybski’s view is a very common way of looking at perception but it is quite different from the PCT view. The Korzybski view – which can be called the “representational” view of perception – is that perception is like looking through a glass, darkly. There are presumed to be “objects” out there in the environment which are the “territory” to be represented by perception – the map. The PCT view – which can be called the “constructivist” view of perception – is that perception is a process of constructing perceptions from the sensory effects of physical variables. PCT assumes that there are only physical variables, v.i, out there in the environment-- variables such as pressure variations in the air–and the perceptual functions of the nervous system “construct” perceptions – such as words – out of them.

RM: I think the main difference between the representational and constructivist views of perception is that the former assumes that the environment that is perceived by others is the environment one experiences oneself, as reality, while the latter assumes that the environment perceived by others as well as oneself is the environment described by the current models of physics and chemistry; it is not directly experienced. Put more concretely, a person who takes a representational view of perception sees the cursor and target in a tracking task as objects in the subject’s environment while the person who takes a constructivist view of perception sees the target and cursor as perceptions of the subject’s environment – perceptions that may or may not correspond to the perceptions the subject is experiencing and/or controlling.

RM: In terms of the control diagram in Figure A-1 of B:CP, the person with the representational view of perception will see q.i as an object in the environment, like the target and cursor, that is to be transformed into a perception, p; the person with the constructivist view of perception will see q.i as a fiction representing, not a variable in the environment but, rather, the perception constructed by the subject from variables in the environment.

RM: So in the PCT view of perception there there is only map – only perception. The TCV is a means of testing to determine whether the observer’s map (the observer’s perception of the variable controlled by the system under study) corresponds to perception that the system is actually controlling. When this is true – when the observer is convinced that the variable he perceives is is the one controlled by the subject – then qi – the variable perceived by the observer, corresponds to p, the perception controlled by the subject. So Figure A-1 in B:CP can be seen as representing the situation when the observer’s perception of the controlled variable, q.i, is the same as the perception, p, that the subject is controlling:that is, when q.i = p.

MT: That is the essence of my point. I think you may be getting it. The

observer can see whatever s/he sees, and never can be sure that it
is the CEV corresponding to whatever the subject is controlling. In
the experiment, the subject is ALWAYS controlling the PERCEPTION of
the ring motion, and is controlling it with a constant reference
value. The observer can see the ring motion and might imagine that
it is being controlled, but the observer’s perception of it differs
from the controller’s perception of it. Both look at the same
physical input (so far as that is ever possible), but perceive
different things. If the CV and the CEV are the same, how could that
happen?

RM: It happens when the CEV (q.i in Figure A-1)-- what the observer perceives – is not the same as the variable the subject is perceiving and controlling (the CV or p in Figure A-1).The observer and subject may be looking at the same physical input (the same v.i’s) but, because perception is constructive and not representational, they are perceiving different aspects of that input. Only when observer and subject are constructing the same perception is it true the q.i = p, which is the situation represented in Figure A-1. In real life, q.i = p only when the observer, via the TCV, is convinced that his perception of the variable under control (q.i) is the same as the perception the subject is actually controlling §.

MT: Why do you change the meaning of the acronym? I have NEVER called

the CEV the “controlled” environmental variable. It is A “Complex”
environmental variable, and I have usually made that explicit when
the term hasn’t been used o CSGnet for a while.

RM: That is better. But calling it an “environmental variable” implies that it is an actual variable in the environment. And q.i is a fiction; there is no q.i in the environment. q.i is a perceptual variable; a construction based on environmental variables: q.i = f(v.i). Same as a controlled perception: p = f(v.i)

MT: That's really far afield. I wouldn't say that it's "out of left

field" so much as “in a ballpark in a different city”.

RM: Well, I would suggest that you consider it as a way of conceiving of things that is more consistent with the PCT model of perception.

Yes, that was my point, wasn't it? The observer is able to see only

the CEV, and unless the observer is careful, something rather like
the “behavioural illusion” happens. Even though the criteria for
control are not apparent to the observer (the reference value or the
error value, plus the transformation of the error into action), the
observer sees the CEV being stabilized and thinks it is being
controlled, much as the prototype behaviourist sees that the
complexity of the organism is shown in the relationship between the
stimulus and the response.

RM: If the observer sees the CEV being stabilized then, by the logic of the TCV, the CEV (the observer’s perception of the CV or q.i) corresponds to the perception the subject is controlling (the CV or p). There is no illusion, unless your view of PCT says that the results of the TCV are somehow illusory. If this were so, then the basic methodology for studying the controlling done by living systems would have to be considered invalid. Is this what you are saying?

MT: What utter nonsense!

RM: Then the TCV is utter nonsense because q.i is the observer’s view of p, the perceptual variable the system is controlling.

MT: But this is far from nonsense. It is correct as far as I can see,

and it illustrates why the TCV can at best approximate the
controlled variable.

RM: Well, that’s reassuring. I don’t know why you don’t consider this nonsense as well but I’ll accept it. I agree that we can probably only get an approximation to the actual controlled variable using the TCV. Figure A-1 assumes that the observer’s view of the controlled variable is exactly the same as the perception controlled by the system: q.i = p. But in actuality, the observer’s view of the controlled variable, q.i, will always be an approximation to p, so that q.i ~ p. But the approximation will be very close.

MT: The CEV does NOT change in the adaptation experiment. The CEV is

always the rotational speed of the ring.

RM: It’s true that the environmental situation doesn’t change – the v.i’s are the same in both the non adapted and adapted case. But the CEV is a function of the environmental environmental situation – a function of the v.i’s – so if you change the function you change the CEV. Your perception of rotational speed is just one way of seeing things. Obviously, the adapted subject is seeing something different;-- a different constructed perception of the physical situation.

RM: When we do the TCV we are basically trying out different definitions of the function that constructs the CEV; we are looking for the function that constructs a CEV that is equivalent to the CV. In the case of the perception of ring rotation, your definition of the CEV is given by your perception of the v.i’s, a perception that is probably constructed from the present time values of the v.i’s. The adapted subject’s definition of the CEV (their CV) is, because of the adaptation, probably based on delayed values of v.i’s. So if you wrote an equation that defined the CEV in terms of appropriately delayed values of the physical variables you would see that this definition of the CEV explains the subject’s controlling nearly perfectly and can, thus, be considered a good approximation to the perception (CV) that the subject is controlling.

MT: : The observer may succumb to

the illusion that the ring speed is being controlled with a varying
reference value, when it is actually being controlled with a
constant reference value of zero, but that’s the observer’s problem.

RM: That would be an observer who is using the representational rather than the constructivist model of perception.

MT: Enough. If you don't want to recognize that the appearance of

control without the appearance of the means of control implies that
the appearance is illusory, a mirage, then I can’t help any more.

RM: What you describe here would be a mistake rather than an illusion. If, using the TCV, you determine that a variable is under control then, in order to show that it is the system under study that is doing the controlling, then you have to show that the control is being exerted by the outputs of the system (that the system has the means of controlling that variable) and that the system can perceive the variable that is under control.

RM: What I don’t recognize as an illusion is when what the observer calls the CEV doesn’t correspond to the perception that is actually being controlled by the system. This is what I thought you were saying was the illusion in your motion adaptation study. You want to call your perception of the ring’s rotation the CEV; you are seeing that this variable is not controlled by the subject so you are saying that the CEV is not the same as the CV. But this is only because you are taking a representational approach to perception. You are treating your definition of the CEV as the reality that the subject is trying to control. The subject is clearly not controlling that variable so you know that the subject is controlling some other perception.

RM: This is not an illusion; it’s just a mistake. You just want to say that ring rotation, as you perceive it, is the CEV – the variable the subject is supposed to be controlling. So you are concluding that the idea that the subject is controlling the ring rotation – your CEV – is an illusion. But it’s an illusion only because you have decided that your perception of ring rotation is what the subject is supposed to be controlling. But the subject is controlling their own perception of ring rotation. There is no illusion for those of us of a constructivist bent; we know that the subject is controlling a different perception than the one you are calling the CEV. It’s a different CEV, one that corresponds to the actually perception (CV) the subject is controlling.

MT: Lord Nelson put the telescope to his blind eye and truthfully told

his Captain “I see no signal” in order to use his plan to win the
Battle of Trafalgar. What battle are you waging by insisting that
what is controlled is not the perceptual signal but something in the
environment?

RM: This has gotten very confused. I am not insisting that what is controlled is not a perceptual signal. I’m insisting that the perception that is controlled is a construction based on physical variables in the environment. An observer using the TCV can “see” this controlled variable by constructing a perception (using their own perceptual system or mathematical tools) that matches the controlled perception constructed by the subject. The perception so constructed by the observer corresponds to q.i in Figure A-1. It will be seen by the observer as being a variable in the subject’s environment. So it’s all perception but it’s possible for an observer to determine what perception the system is controlling by determining which aspect of subject’s environment, as perceived by the observer, corresponds to the perceptual variable the subject is controlling.

MT: What is the likely result if you win?

RM: I’m not trying to win so much as win you over. Your point of view sounds to me like an argument for the invalidity of the TCV as a method of studying living control systems. If it’s not then I have no idea what your point is. To me, the TCV is simply the essential approach to understanding control. And the TCV involves finding a definition of q.i – the controlled variable from the point of view of the observer – that corresponds to p – the controlled variable from the point of view of the control system. You keep saying that q.i and p are separate things and that knowing q.i tells you nothing about p. What I’m hearing you say, then, is that the TCV – which is aimed at finding q.i that corresponds to p – is impossible. That’s kind of a serious claim, from my point of view.

RM: But whether we come to agreement on this or not, I want to thank you again for giving me another good idea for a paper. Powers always said that PCT was based on a “constructivist” view of perception (a la Ernst von Glassersfeld) but I never really saw the importance of understanding what this meant until we got into this discussion. So I think I’ll try to write a paper to explain the difference between the representational view of perception (which I think is the prevailing one in perceptual psychology) and the constructivist view (which, I now see, is at the heart of PCT and really the basis for the TCV).

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

            MT: ...In this case, from the controller's

viewpoint there is only what the analyst would see as
the CV, and from the observer’s viewpoint there is only
what the analyst would see as the CEV. They are not the
same variable.

          RM: Actually, they are the same, by definition (per

Figure A-1 in B:CP).

          RM: What you (the observer) are measuring in this

experiment is not q.i, the variable the subject is
controlling. In your experiment, because the subject is
adapted and the observer isn’t, the subject is perceiving
and controlling something different than what the observer
is perceiving.

          RM: Perhaps your lack of success at getting across the

“fact” that the CEV is NOT controlled comes from calling
the CEV a CEV ( CONTROLLED environmental variable).

          RM:  However, I think what you might have in mind as a

CEVs is actually the variables called “Physiological
Effects” in Figure 14.1 of B:CP. These Physiological
Effects (also called “Intrinsic Variables”) are, indeed,
uncontrolled consequences of perceptual control.

          RM: I meant "same" in the sense of "equivalent". A CV

§ and what you call a CEV (and said was equivalent to
q.i) are “the same” in the sense that they are
functionally equivalent. For example, the CV and CEV are
“the same” when what the system is controlling is

CV = p = f(v.1,v.2…v.n) (1)

and what the observer sees the system controlling is

CEV = q.i = g(v.1,v.2…v.n) (2)

          RM: The ability of an outside observer to determine q.i

is not only not fictional, it is the central contribution
of PCT to understanding the behavior of living control
systems.

          PCT shows that an observer can determine the

perception, p, a control system is controlling in terms of
the observer’s own perception, q.i, using The Test for the
Controlled Variable (TCV). Indeed, the aim of the TCV is
for the observer to find a way to perceive (in terms their
own perceptual function g() in equation (2)) what the
system is perceiving and controlling (in terms of its
perceptual function f() in equation (1).) That is, the aim
of the TCV is to find g() that matches f().

          RM: Changes in the perceptual function change the CV

and the definition of the CEV (as they do in your motion
adaptation experiment).

The reason Bill emphasized that behavior is the control of perception is to draw immutable attention to the fact that output is neither measured nor controlled. Everything is understood through the concept of a perception - a local flux. to put things in perspective, were talking about subatomic particle fluxes INSIDE PROTONS. Consider these words subject to change, but a pcs is a magnetic monopole, mathematically speaking. one day Ill tell you all about it. Or ill just play dead and ignore you. I need to have a long talk with everybody here.

Merry Christmas

···

If qi is defined as charge and ki as Coulomb’s constant, then the product ki*qi is the force felt by an electron in the flux force field. You can rederive the first principles and concepts of electromagnetism. What’s going on here is that Martin is studying what’s on his biological retina and Rick is studying what’s on his. Martin is looking at the human-brain interface and Rick is considering that of the human-computer. But nobody can grasp the utter nonsense Rick is spewing. Martin is correct 100%. Rick is performing what’s known as an analog to digital conversion with his mind and outputting a lower dimensional signal than what is actually on his retina. Martin doesn’t know how to program as well as Rick. But Rick would never ponder the HumanComputerInterface to be a rotating magnetic disk and control. Furthermore, he is trying to avoid ever learning the concepts and principles of object oriented programming. Martin, eons away from taking up OOP (perhaps I’m blowing smoke) is the only person who could understand Rick’s fundamental flaw. He thinks the CEV (controlled environmental variable) exists. It is as much a fiction as aristotles law of motion, F=mv.

[Martin Taylor 2014.12. 26.23.25]

I hope those who celebrated Christmas or any other festival

yesterday enjoyed it as much as I did. And allow me to wish
everybody a happy and satisfying 2015.

After a whole lot of nonsense...

At least that is something on which we can agree. But for many turns
of this interchange, you have seemed very clearly to be saying that
something in the environment is controlled. That claim is all that I
have been objecting to. If you are relinquishing it or saying I have
misinterpreted just about everything you have written recently, then
we can forget the last month or so and just go on from this central
point of PCT, the Theaory of PERCEPTUAL Control.
The issue here is not whether that is the objective, because if the
match could be assured, then the observer using the TCV could indeed
“see” the controlled variable. The problem is to determine a method
by which this match is assured. Perhaps it would help if you were to
describe how your observer constructs a perception that matches
EXACTLY rather than approximately the controlled perception
cnstructed by the subject. You demonstrate in your size demo that
one function of X and Y is better stabilized by the subject than
another, which means that this “construction” is probably closer to
the construction that produces the controlled perception than
anything else you yet tried, but where is the proof that there
exists no function of X and Y and some other variable such as
closeness to the display edge that would be closer yet?
My concept of the TCV is this: 1. The tester hypothesizes a perceptual function that creates the
controlled perception
2. The tester determines whether the testee could actually perceive
the variables used in the hypothesized perceptual function
3. The tester determines whether the actions of the testee influence
any of the variables used in the hypothesized perceptual function.
4. The tester disturbs one or more of the variables used in the
hypothesized perceptual function
5. If the disturbance is at all resisted, so that the hypothesized
perceptual value changes less than it would in the absence of
control, the tester can legitimately claim that something influenced
by the disturbed variables is used by the true perceptual function.
6. The tester iteratively tries a variety of hypotheses, using steps
1-5 on each of them. When the degree of control at step 5 is better
than a previous hypothesis, this one is closer to the true
perceptual function.
7. If the range of hypotheses can be parameterized, the e-coli
process can be used to generate new hypotheses to approach the
target of the true perceptual function, in the same way that
reorganization of the perceptual hierarchy improves the control
performance of the perception being controlled. However, there is no
way to be sure that the set of hypotheses being considered actually
includes all the variables used by the true perceptual function.
Is this anything like your concept of the TCV?
I’m fine with that, if after the word “determine” you substitute for
“what” the words “something close to”.
My ONLY point is that it is perception that is controlled, NOT, and
NEVER, something in the environment. How that gets turned into an
argument for the invalidity of the TCV is beyond me. I don’t know if
you are aware that I even claim that my “General Protocol Grammar”
of dialogue interaction is a formalized way of performing the TCV in
everyday life. It’s the way people try to figure out closely enough
for practical purposes what each other wants.
I don’t see how the TCV helps at all in understanding control. What
it helps in is refining for any particular circumstance an
estimation of what perception is being controlled. How that helps in
understanding control is a mystery. Understanding control can be
approached in more than one way. Mathematically is one way,
experiment and demonstration to see when things work and when they
go haywire is another. How does the TCV help you to understand the
conditions under which a control loop will oscillate, or what
happens in a conflict, etc., etc…?
Well, at least we have a second point of at least partial agreement.
Partial because I believe that some of the structure of the
perceptual system is developed through evolution, which means that
there are constraints on what a contructivist perceiver could
perceive. Agreement because that’s what I’ve been pushing since at
least my 1992 Paris tutorial (Downloadable from
; see page 22,
which explains multi-level CEVs).
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.23.1850)]

          RM: This has gotten very confused. I am not insisting

that what is controlled is not a perceptual signal. I’m
insisting that the perception that is controlled is a
construction based on physical variables in the
environment.

          An observer using the TCV can "see" this controlled

variable by constructing a perception (using their own
perceptual system or mathematical tools) that matches the
controlled perception constructed by the subject.

          The perception so constructed by the observer

corresponds to q.i in Figure A-1. It will be seen by the
observer as being a variable in the subject’s environment.
So it’s all perception but it’s possible for an observer
to determine what perception the system is controlling by
determining which aspect of subject’s environment, as
perceived by the observer, corresponds to the perceptual
variable the subject is controlling.

            MT: What is the

likely result if you win?

          RM: I'm not trying to win so much as win you over. Your

point of view sounds to me like an argument for the
invalidity of the TCV as a method of studying living
control systems. If it’s not then I have no idea what
your point is.

          To me, the TCV is simply the essential approach to

understanding control.

          RM: But whether we come to agreement on this or not, I

want to thank you again for giving me another good idea
for a paper. Powers always said that PCT was based on a
“constructivist” view of perception (a la Ernst von
Glassersfeld) but I never really saw the importance of
understanding what this meant until we got into this
discussion. So I think I’ll try to write a paper to
explain the difference between the representational view
of perception (which I think is the prevailing one in
perceptual psychology) and the constructivist view (which,
I now see, is at the heart of PCT and really the basis for
the TCV).

http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/ParisTutorial.pdf

[From Rick Marken (2014.12.27.1230)]

Martin Taylor (2014.12. 26.23.25)--

Rick Marken (2014.12.23.1850)

MT: After a whole lot of nonsense...

RM: There seems to be a consensus building;-) I'm feeling like Mr.
Jones again. "Oh my god am I here all alone".

RM: This has gotten very confused. I am not insisting that what is controlled is not a perceptual signal. I'm insisting that the perception that is controlled is a construction based on physical variables in the environment.

MT: At least that is something on which we can agree. But for many turns of this interchange, you have seemed very clearly to be saying that something in the environment is controlled.

RM: Yes, I probably have not been consistent. I'll try it again. My
argument is that it is aspects of the environment -- functions of
physical variables (the v.i in Figure 1 on p. 66 of LCS I) -- that are
controlled. The aspects of the environment that are controlled are
defined by the perceptual functions of the control system. For
example, when a control system controls the area of a rectangle, as in
my "What is Size" demo (www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/Size.html) it
is controlling a perception that is proportional to the product of two
physical variables, the width and height of the rectangle. So when the
perception of area is controlled the product of these two physical
variables is controlled as well. That is, the aspect of the
environment that corresponds to width x height is controlled when the
perception of width x height is controlled. (Width and height are
themselves aspects of environment -- of the physical intensity of the
light emanating from each point on the display -- but I treat them as
physical environmental variables themselves -- v.i -- for simplicity).

MT: That claim is all that I have been objecting to.

RM: The problem may be as simple as the difference in the meaning of
"something in the environment" and "aspect of the environment". When
the perception of area is controlled, for example, I would say that an
_aspect of the environment_ is also being controlled, not _something
in the environment_. I don't think of area as being "something in the
environment" any more than the the taste of lemonade is "something in
the environment". But both are _aspects_ of environmental variables --
functions of physical environmental variables -- so when a perception
of area or the taste of lemonade is controlled so are the
corresponding aspects of the environment.

RM: So my position (which I believe is just a description of the
control model of behavior) is that when a perception is controlled the
aspect of the environment that corresponds to that perception is also
being controlled.

MT: If you are relinquishing it or saying I have misinterpreted just about everything you have written recently, then we can forget the last month or so and just go on from this central point of PCT, the Theaory of PERCEPTUAL Control.

RM: I hope I have clarified my position and that you can see that it
is perfectly consistent with PCT. I assume that observed behavior is
organized around the control of perceptual variables. The perceptual
variables that organisms control define the aspects of the physical
environment that they control. When organisms control perceptual
variables they are not necessarily controlling, things in the
environment but, rather, aspects of the environment that correspond to
those perceptions.

RM: An observer using the TCV can "see" this controlled variable by constructing a perception (using their own perceptual system or mathematical tools) that matches the controlled perception constructed by the subject.

MT: The issue here is not whether that is the objective, because if the match could be assured, then the observer using the TCV could indeed "see" the controlled variable....

RM: I think that's more of an issue for you than has to be for a PCT
researcher. The TCV is an essential part of a control theory approach
to understanding living control systems, not because it purports to
provide an exact match to the perceptions another system is
controlling but because it is based on recognition that such
perceptions _exist_ (something that is not recognized at all in
conventional approaches to understanding behavior; the concept of a
controlled variable exists only in the PCT approach to understanding
behavior) and that observed behavior is organized around control of
those perceptions.

RM: One example of the lack of importance of finding an exact match to
the controlled variable when using the TCV is found on p. 237 of B:CP
(2nd edition). Here Bill describes the results of the "coin game"
version of the TCV where E (the tester) concludes that S (the subject)
is controlling for a "zigzag" pattern while S says that it was
actually an "N" (or "Z"). As Bill notes, if both are "word-oriented"
types they may argue about whose definition is "right" when, in fact,
E has discovered the perception S is controlling, regardless of what
it's called.

MT: My concept of the TCV is this:
1. The tester hypothesizes a perceptual function that creates the controlled perception
2. The tester determines whether the testee could actually perceive the variables used in the hypothesized perceptual function
3. The tester determines whether the actions of the testee influence any of the variables used in the hypothesized perceptual function.
4. The tester disturbs one or more of the variables used in the hypothesized perceptual function
5. If the disturbance is at all resisted, so that the hypothesized perceptual value changes less than it would in the absence of control, the tester can legitimately claim that something influenced by the disturbed variables is used by the true perceptual function.
6. The tester iteratively tries a variety of hypotheses, using steps 1-5 on each of them. When the degree of control at step 5 is better than a previous hypothesis, this one is closer to the true perceptual function.
7. If the range of hypotheses can be parameterized, the e-coli process can be used to generate new hypotheses to approach the target of the true perceptual function, in the same way that reorganization of the perceptual hierarchy improves the control performance of the perception being controlled. However, there is no way to be sure that the set of hypotheses being considered actually includes all the variables used by the true perceptual function.

Is this anything like your concept of the TCV?

RM: Yes. Pretty close. Though I would change some of the wording
slightl. Here are my versions:

1. The tester hypothesizes a perceptual variables that is controlled
by the system.

2. The tester determines whether the testee could actually perceive
the hypothesized controlled variable.

3. The tester determines whether the actions of the testee can
influence the hypothesized controlled variable.

[Both steps 2 and 3 would probably have to be done after step 6]

4. The tester disturbs the hypothesized controlled variable.

5. If the disturbance has less of an effect on the hypothesized
controlled variable than expected then the variable may be under
control.

6. Continue to apply different disturbances that should have an effect
on the hypothesized controlled variable. If all these disturbances
(Powers suggests 3 more disturbances) have less than the expected
effect then the variable is likely to be under control. Test is
finished. If a disturbance is effective, change the hypothesis about
the controlled variable and go back to step 1.

RM: Again, Bill's description of the "coin game" on pp. 236-238 of
B:CP (2nd Ed) is a good example of the TCV.

RM: I'm not trying to win so much as win you over. Your point of view sounds to me like an argument for the invalidity of the TCV as a method of studying living control systems. If it's not then I have no idea what your point is.

MT: My ONLY point is that it is perception that is controlled, NOT, and NEVER, something in the environment.

RM: And I basically agree with this since I would say it's an aspect
of the physical environment that corresponds to the perceptual
variable under control -- not necessarily something in the environment
-- that is controlled when you control a perceptual variable.

MT: How that gets turned into an argument for the invalidity of the TCV is beyond me. I don't know if you are aware that I even claim that my "General Protocol Grammar" of dialogue interaction is a formalized way of performing the TCV in everyday life. It's the way people try to figure out closely enough for practical purposes what each other wants.

RM: I'm glad that you see the TCV as a valid approach to the study of
living control systems. So I guess what I want to try to convince you
of now is that the TCV should not only be considered valid but also
essential.

RM: To me, the TCV is simply the essential approach to understanding control.

MT: I don't see how the TCV helps at all in understanding control.

RM: The TCV "helps" by telling us what is being controlled. You have
to know what is being controlled before you can start trying to
understand how it's being controlled.

MT: What it helps in is refining for any particular circumstance an estimation of what perception is being controlled. How that helps in understanding control is a mystery.

RM: No mystery. You can't understand the controlling done by a living
(or, for that matter, an artifactual) control system unless you know
what perceptual variable(s) it is controlling.

MT: Understanding control can be approached in more than one way. Mathematically is one way, experiment and demonstration to see when things work and when they go haywire is another. How does the TCV help you to understand the conditions under which a control loop will oscillate, or what happens in a conflict, etc., etc...?

RM: It "helps" by telling you the nature of the control loop involved
in the controlling done by the control system. The conditions under
which a control loop will oscillate are quite different depending on
what variable the system is controlling. A system controlling area,
for example, will oscillate at a much lower output gain than a system
controlling perimeter due to the difference in the feedback function
connecting output to controlled variable in the two different cases.
Same thing with conflict; you have to know what variable(s) the
conflicted parties are controlling to know how a particular conflict
will play out.

RM: But whether we come to agreement on this or not, I want to thank you again for giving me another good idea for a paper. Powers always said that PCT was based on a "constructivist" view of perception (a la Ernst von Glassersfeld) but I never really saw the importance of understanding what this meant until we got into this discussion. So I think I'll try to write a paper to explain the difference between the representational view of perception (which I think is the prevailing one in perceptual psychology) and the constructivist view (which, I now see, is at the heart of PCT and really the basis for the TCV).

MT: Well, at least we have a second point of at least partial agreement. Partial because I believe that some of the structure of the perceptual system is developed through evolution, which means that there are constraints on what a contructivist perceiver could perceive. Agreement because that's what I've been pushing since at least my 1992 Paris tutorial (Downloadable from <http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/ParisTutorial.pdf>; see page 22, which explains multi-level CEVs).

RM: Yes, good point. There are surely evolutionary constraints placed
on the type of perceptual variables living systems construct (or come
equipped with at birth). And we have the advantage of being living
systems ourselves so we can look at our own experience to see what
kinds of perceptions we control. That's what Bill did in order to come
up with his hypothesis about the levels of perceptual control; the
different levels represent the different classes of perception he was
able to identify.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
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