[From Bruce Abbott (941207.1540 EST)]
It's good to be back among the living. I trust that everyone has taken the
opportunity to rest up--you're gonna need it. We have some serious issues to
tackle. Take this one, for starters....
Bill Powers (941206.1205 MST)
This is why we were so impressed by the E. coli phenomenon: it is a
direct demonstration of the principle of reorganization.
Am I delirious with fever? Did Bill Powers actually state in the above that
an innately-organized, pre-programmed, negative feedback loop illustrates
REORGANIZATION? I am totally mystified.
According to B:CP, reorganization is a different process altogether, one that
results in the CREATION of a new control system. I quote:
Reorganization is a process akin to rewiring or microprogramming a
computer so that those operations it can perform are changed.
Reorganization alters behavior, but does not produce _specific
behaviors_. It changes the parameters of behavior, not the content. . .
. Reorganization is an operation _on_ a system, not _by_ a system.
[B:CP, p. 179]
Is reorganization now to include the ordinary operation of a control system in
response to perceptual error? Please explain...
When E. coli
goes in the right direction, it does NOTHING to change the direction.
Only while it is going in the wrong direction is there any process that
alters its direction. The right direction is defined by default: it is
that direction that leads to no change in direction.
Bruce's model actually illustrated that point, more or less by accident.
The effective logical path that resulted in the correct changes in
probabilities was the one that "punished" swimming in the wrong
You are ignoring the other "half" of the discrimination. When e. coli was
swimming the wrong way (dNut negative), the effective logical path that
resulted in correct changes in probability was the one that "reinforced"
swimming in the right direction. The effects that occur when swimming in the
"right" and "wrong" direction are perfectly symmetrical and thus actually
contradict your point.
Furthermore, it was EXPERIENCE with the consequences of a tumble under these
two conditions that determined the tumble rates under the two situations, not
a pre-programmed servomechanism qualitatively no different from the spinal
reflex. If the term "reorganization" is to have any worthwhile meaning, it
must be restricted to the situation where control is GAINED over a perceptual
variable, not where such control is merely executed. My "learning" model e.
coli shows reorganization by your (old) definition; your original (static) e.
coli most definitely does not.
The concept of reorganization gives us a new understanding of "reward."
It is not that getting a reward causes the behavior that leads to the
reward; it is that lack of the rewarding thing creates a state of
reorganization that will cease only when the lack is corrected.
Now this seems more reasonable, although it has nothing to do with the earlier
discussion of e. coli behavior. However, it needs to be restated slightly.
It is the fact that a behavior PRODUCES the reward that leads to the
repetition of the behavior. However, "the behavior" is NOT to be defined as a
particular set of muscle contractions, but rather as a goal-directed activity
mediated by several layers of perceptual control system (e.g., pulling on a
string). And whether some consequence of behavior serves to "reward" or
"punish" behavior depends, of course, on the effect of that consequence on
controlled perceptual variables, relative to their reference levels.
Which brings up the question of "incentives." Rats will lever-press for non-
nutritive sucrose solution, even though this substance has no effect on an
intrinsic error signal for nutritional level. Does lack of sucrose create a
state of reorganization that will cease only then the lack is corrected? If
not, why do rats learn to press levers in order to get it?