Redux: "Once Around the Loop" expanded.

[From Dag Forssell (2005.10.18 15:10 PST}]

Good. The amplifications are useful, especially the one at the end.

Which one are you thinking of? Are others questionnable?

I'm sure that I didn't notice all the changes, but it reads very well the third time through, so I think you're finished with it!


Thanks, the entire section was new, as marked by the line in the margin.

Tim expressed concern about my claim that we can be aware of behavior. My claim that we are aware of what we want or intend was inconsistent with what I wrote on page one, where I had said that you may not know what kind of dress you want, just that there is something wrong with this one.

[Marc Abrams (2005.10.17.2341)] You ask some questions and then later say you don't think there are answers. Please see B:CP and the BYTE articles, for instance. There is much we don't know about neurons and perceptual functions, and about which I don't worry. I rely on the fact that we obviously control, obviously remember etc. plus my engineering background and more recent (1989 forward) understanding of control, most of which I have gleaned by reading Bill's writings. I will not attempt to answer your specific questions, since they fall outside this paper. I am answering Tim's concern by modifying the paper, not by writing him, because his concern falls inside this particular effort to introduce my personal perspective on the loop.

So to be very clear about what I express here about behavior, which I think is very important for people to grasp, I have expanded on the expansion yet again. Here is the entire new section copied from page 4, suitable for detailed comments as you see fit.

I have retained the columnar formatting of the pdf document.

Following feedback, I shall again modify and post the paper.

Perhaps at that point I will be able to let go of it for a while :slight_smile:



Now that we have a rather comprehensive idea of how
elements interact in a fully functional control system
such as a living organism, I will comment on action,
which is commonly spoken of as behavior. Action
or behavior is what is visible to an outside observer.
What�s inside is invisible. Therefore, attention gets
paid to action/behavior and the rest of the system ends
up being largely misunderstood in our society today.
Parents, educators, spouses, politicians, police�all
strive to change the behavior of others (and end up
creating lots of conflict in the process). The idea that
behavior is controlled by the individual and can be
modified by others is widely accepted. But do people
control their behavior? Are people even aware of their
action/behavior in such a way that it is reasonable to
say that they can and do control their behavior?
     As you can see from this trip around a control
loop, action follows from the comparison of the
reference signal (the current want), with the current
perceptual signal (the sense of what is right now).
     The input function of the controlling system
perceives the controlled variable. It does not perceive
its own action. Just the same, the thermostat in your
home heating system perceives air temperature but
knows nothing about the furnace and its behavior.
The heating system controls its perception of temperature.
It most certainly does not control its behavior.
Neither do you.
    We are most aware of what we perceive or experience.
We can also be aware of what we want or intend
through thinking and imagination (PCT deals with
these, too, but not this paper). We are much less
aware of what we actually do. While the low-level
systems controlling movement of our limbs perceive
their inputs, not their action outputs, we can be aware
of our action/behavior by in effect watching ourselves
act because we have massively parallel input functions
and perceptual pathways. But to be somewhat aware
of what we do, we must make a deliberate effort to
pay attention. Normally we don�t. When you left
your house on vacation, you may remember that you
intended to turn off the stove, but not whether you
actually did. You can�t usually remember many details
from your last drive or walk to the office, because your
system in action automatically brought you where you
wanted to be. You did not have to pay attention to
your actions to get there.
     Action/Behavior is the (automatic) means by
which we act on our world in order to experience it the
way we want it. Thus we control what we perceive.
     Behavior is the control of perception.
     One obvious consequence of this understanding
of what behavior is, how it works, and what it accomplishes,
is a change of focus from action/behavior
(which is of little interest), to understanding and
wants (a complex system of reference signals) because
the latter drive the system, depending also on the current
circumstances. Changing from trying to modify
behavior to asking questions, exploring a person�s
wants and the personal reasons for them, makes a
huge difference to personal relationships, personal
effectiveness, and confl ict resolution.
     For more on the effect of focusing on what people
want, I recommend Jim Soldani�s paper effective_
personnel_management.pdf. Download it where you
found this paper.

Best, Dag