# Representation (was Re: TCV and Collective Control ...)

[Martin Taylor 2017.01.01.14.30]

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.31 12.00)]

(Martin Taylor 2016.12.24.13.37]

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.24 18.00)]

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.20.00.04]

Rupert, Do my postings this evening [Martin Taylor 2016.12.19.11.58] and the misleadingly time-stamped [Martin Taylor 2016.12.13.12.09] reconcile o,ur views? I think they address the issues in your message. If they don't, then we need further interaction because we seem to be extremely close.

Hmm, not really. I printed out the latter which was 8 pages, and it took me an hour or so to digest, so was another long post, with a highly convoluted scenario, but, I'm afraid, I didn't feel that I was reading something that was particularly relevant to the discussion. Perhaps, you could clarify which parts you thought were relevant.

Preferably in 140 characters or fewer!

Very difficult to do since I thought that almost all of what I wrote was directly relevant to all the issues I thought remained. I don't know what you think are the remaining issues to which my messages were not relevant, so I think the ball is in your court.

Well, the ball was in the "Representation" post I wrote, with a couple of follow-ups, to which you have not yet responded. It need not be complicated, the best place to start was with the query I posed, "To give another example, of Rick's baseball catching work, what would the variable, in the external world that corresponds to (rather than relates to) the (internal) controlled variable of the optical velocity of the ball on the retina?"

Rupert

OK. Let's start there. My answer is "The derivative of the vertical angle between the ball and the horizon at the viewer's eye plus the vertical component of the rotation of the eye in its socket and the head on the shoulders". But I'm not at all clear how this question or answer relates to the preceding thread.

---------aside---------
Incidentally, I've long wondered how the fielder can perceive this derivative in a cloudless sky. The position and the velocity on the retina is going to vary all over the lot during the flight of the ball, only a small proportion of that velocity being due to the changes in the relative locations of the ball and the fielder.

Subjectively, what I think I perceive is the varying relations between the ball and the background clouds, not the absolute relation between the ball and the horizon, or anything at all simply based on the retina. By the way, when I talk of "experience" I think with a shudder of an occasion when I attempted to catch a skier hit directly toward me against a clear sky (in England, believe it or not). I thought I was well positioned where I stood for it to fall into my hands, until the very moment when it landed with a thud just behind me. I could very easily have been killed -- and at the time I had a reputation of being a sure-handed fielder.

Martin

···

On 20/12/2016 05:08, Martin Taylor wrote:

[From Rupert Young (2017.01.07 14.30)]

(Martin Taylor 2017.01.01.14.30]

Preferably in 140 characters or fewer!

Very difficult to do since I thought that almost all of what I wrote was directly relevant to all the issues I thought remained. I don't know what you think are the remaining issues to which my messages were not relevant, so I think the ball is in your court.

Well, the ball was in the "Representation" post I wrote, with a couple of follow-ups, to which you have not yet responded. It need not be complicated, the best place to start was with the query I posed, "To give another example, of Rick's baseball catching work, what would the variable, in the external world that corresponds to (rather than relates to) the (internal) controlled variable of the optical velocity of the ball on the retina?"

OK. Let's start there. My answer is "The derivative of the vertical angle between the ball and the horizon at the viewer's eye plus the vertical component of the rotation of the eye in its socket and the head on the shoulders". But I'm not at all clear how this question or answer relates to the preceding thread.

The origin of the discussion was your diagram of an external hierarchy of variables (dots below the line, aka CEVs) each of which mirrors a perception (internal variable) that is being controlled. In other words, you are, apparently, saying that each perception "represents" a variable in the external world; that that variable is on the feedback path that forms the perception; that perception directly corresponds to the variable in the external world. I am paraphrasing, but mostly using your own words, so perhaps you could confirm if this is an accurate description of your position.

So, I have been trying to determine how this can be the case, where these variables are and how are they embodied?

I gave the example of the control of optical velocity for baseball catching, as I do not think it is valid to say that the perception under control represents a variable in the external world (and doesn't need to). Though, of course, the perception is constructed from variables derived from the external world.

Your response of the variable that the perception represents was the "derivative of the vertical angle between the ball and the horizon ....". What does it mean to say that this variable exists in the external world? Where is it? How is it embodied? A derivative is a measure of change of a variable, so is a function of current and previous values. To embody such a derivative requires infrastructure to compute that measure. Which is precisely what the neural (perceptual) infrastructure does. A neural signal, in basic terms, embodies the difference between a current value and a previous value. That is, a new neural signal is constructed from other (more primitive) signals. Where is the infrastructure in the external world that is doing that?

It may make sense to say that the perception "represents" a derivative, but not, I contend, that that variable (the derivative) is "in" the external world.

Incidentally, in your pages at (http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/Mutuality/) you mention "Controlled Environmental Variable" and "Complex Environmental Variable". What is the distinction between the two? I notice that you refer to the CEV as a vector (as opposed to the scalar variable of the perception), which may be part of our misunderstanding. I am with you on there being a vector, but that would mean that, as I have been saying, the perception does not directly correspond to the CEV; one's a scalar and one's a vector; the scalar is constructed from the vector.

Rather than calling it a "Controlled Environmental Variable", as it is not controlled, or "Complex Environmental Variable", if we are saying that it is a vector, and a vector, by definition, is complex then it would be more conducive to clarity if we just called it an "Environmental Vector". If we also agreed the the external world consisted only of vectors of (primitive) variables, which are inputs to perceptual functions then we would be pretty much on the same page.

Well, I'm glad that controversy has been cleared up and put to bed!

Rupert

[Martin Taylor 2017.01.07.13.31]

[From Rupert Young (2017.01.07 14.30)]

(Martin Taylor 2017.01.01.14.30]

Preferably in 140 characters or fewer!

Very difficult to do since I thought that almost all of what I wrote was directly relevant to all the issues I thought remained. I don't know what you think are the remaining issues to which my messages were not relevant, so I think the ball is in your court.

Well, the ball was in the "Representation" post I wrote, with a couple of follow-ups, to which you have not yet responded. It need not be complicated, the best place to start was with the query I posed, "To give another example, of Rick's baseball catching work, what would the variable, in the external world that corresponds to (rather than relates to) the (internal) controlled variable of the optical velocity of the ball on the retina?"

OK. Let's start there. My answer is "The derivative of the vertical angle between the ball and the horizon at the viewer's eye plus the vertical component of the rotation of the eye in its socket and the head on the shoulders". But I'm not at all clear how this question or answer relates to the preceding thread.

The origin of the discussion was your diagram of an external hierarchy of variables (dots below the line, aka CEVs) each of which mirrors a perception (internal variable) that is being controlled. In other words, you are, apparently, saying that each perception "represents" a variable in the external world; that that variable is on the feedback path that forms the perception; that perception directly corresponds to the variable in the external world. I am paraphrasing, but mostly using your own words, so perhaps you could confirm if this is an accurate description of your position.

So, I have been trying to determine how this can be the case, where these variables are and how are they embodied?

I gave the example of the control of optical velocity for baseball catching, as I do not think it is valid to say that the perception under control represents a variable in the external world (and doesn't need to). Though, of course, the perception is constructed from variables derived from the external world.

Your response of the variable that the perception represents was the "derivative of the vertical angle between the ball and the horizon ....". What does it mean to say that this variable exists in the external world? Where is it? How is it embodied? A derivative is a measure of change of a variable, so is a function of current and previous values. To embody such a derivative requires infrastructure to compute that measure. Which is precisely what the neural (perceptual) infrastructure does. A neural signal, in basic terms, embodies the difference between a current value and a previous value. That is, a new neural signal is constructed from other (more primitive) signals. Where is the infrastructure in the external world that is doing that?

It may make sense to say that the perception "represents" a derivative, but not, I contend, that that variable (the derivative) is "in" the external world.

Incidentally, in your pages at (http://www.mmtaylor.net/PCT/Mutuality/) you mention "Controlled Environmental Variable" and "Complex Environmental Variable". What is the distinction between the two? I notice that you refer to the CEV as a vector (as opposed to the scalar variable of the perception), which may be part of our misunderstanding. I am with you on there being a vector, but that would mean that, as I have been saying, the perception does not directly correspond to the CEV; one's a scalar and one's a vector; the scalar is constructed from the vector.

Rather than calling it a "Controlled Environmental Variable", as it is not controlled, or "Complex Environmental Variable", if we are saying that it is a vector, and a vector, by definition, is complex then it would be more conducive to clarity if we just called it an "Environmental Vector". If we also agreed the the external world consisted only of vectors of (primitive) variables, which are inputs to perceptual functions then we would be pretty much on the same page.

Well, I'm glad that controversy has been cleared up and put to bed!

Isn't there supposed to be a "tongue-in-cheek" smiley for that?

I have a problem with your word "embodied". Are you thinking only of tangible objects in the environment, because I certainly am not. Indeed, I can't conceive of any control of a tangible object as such. I imagine controlling the location of an object, the colour of an object, the spatial relation between two objects, the identity of an object, etc., etc. All of what I can imagine controlling are intangible properties that are of the object in the environment. Where are they "embodied"?

Thanks for pointing out the inconsistency of naming in my web pages. I'll check it out. But I think you didn't get the point of the vectors, which is all about efficiency and side-effect interactions that lead to reorganization to diminish side-effects while increasing efficiency of control. The input and output functions change. Those functions are what the vectors represent, not the values of the variables.

I notice that you refer to the CEV as a vector (as opposed to the scalar variable of the perception), which may be part of our misunderstanding. I am with you on there being a vector, but that would mean that, as I have been saying, the perception does not directly correspond to the CEV; one's a scalar and one's a vector; the scalar is constructed from the vector.

I'll have a look at that, too, because there's obviously room for misunderstanding in my wording. The scalar in question is the magnitude of the vector. The issues of side effects and efficiencies have to do with phase angles. The perceptual FUNCTION directly corresponds to the vector, and defines the CEV. The scalar is not constructed from the vector, but the vector can be described in terms of magnitude and phase angle. That's actually quite a reasonable way to describe it if you are trying to do the TCV in a continuous space, since what the test is getting at is the phase angle (what function is apparently controlled) and the magnitude (what is the reference value).

···

------------

I don't remember whether I suggested this before, and I apologise if it is a repeat.

Let's go at it from the other side, and hypothesize that there is some real thing in the environment, say a collapsible chair. Assume for the moment that the chair is truly as we perceive it. I control for perceiving myself to be sitting on it, but it is currently collapsed. "Collapsed" is a perception of the angle between the legs and the seat. Either that angle exists in the truly existing chair or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then I can't control a perception of it. If I can't control a perception of it I can't "uncollapse" the chair except perhaps by randomly shaking it. After some shaking, I perceive a configuration of "chairness" -- but sorry, I can't perceive that because the chair has no configuration in the environment. Oh Dear, I want to sit, but I can perceive nothing in the environment with the property of "sittable-on-ness". I cn't sit, no matter what I do unless by accident I stub my toe on the chair and trip into a sitting position on it.

I think that's all a bit ridiculous. If the collapsible chair exists in the environment, as, by assumption, it does, then so does the configuration variable that moves continuously from "collapsed" to "uncollapsed". So do the angles between chair seat and legs. So does the seat height when uncollapsed. So does the variable "sittable-on-ness".

Bottom line, either there's nothing in the real world to perceive and control or there is. If there is, then all the things we perceive may have real world correspondences, and if we can control them, they do. Controllability isn't a perfect proof, of course, but it's good evidence, enough to slow reorganization down so that the perception persists as long as we continue to be able to control it.

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2017.01.08.1920)]

···

Martin Taylor (2017.01.07.13.31)–

MT: Bottom line, either there’s nothing in the real world to perceive and control or there is.Â

RM: According to PCT there is, indeed, something in the real world to perceive and control: aspects of the physical variables that make up the Â outside world. Which aspects are perceived and controlled are determined by the nature of our perceptual functions. A chair is a perception that is a function of physical variables; its shape is a (perceptual) function of the array of light reflected off a particular configuration of molecules; its solidity a (perceptual) function of the electrostatic forces between those molecules. So there is definitely a physical reality that corresponds to the chair perception. But we only experience that “chair” aspect of reality as a because we have perceptual functions that result in the perception of a solid object of a particular shape that will support our weight. If we had different perceptual functions we might experience that aspect of the same reality as something other than a chair.

RM: According to PCT the physical variables that make up our environmentÂ don’t determine how they will be perceived; rather, what is perceived is determined by the nature of the perceptual functions in us. So while there presumably is an arrangement of molecules in Â environment that is the basis of the perception of the solid chair, we perceive that particular aspect of the environment that way because we have perceptual functions that perceive intensities (pressure, brightness) and configurations that result in a perception of the solid chair.Â

RM: It may be difficult to accept that idea that our perception of a chair is one of many possible perceptions that might be constructed from the same physical variables by different perceptual functions. The chair seems so inevitable; the chair seems to be really “out there”.Â And, indeed, there is something out there that corresponds to the chair and it is probably most adaptive to perceive that aspect of the environment as a solid chair. But PCT says that that is not the only way to perceive the same reality. Perhaps this “constructive” aspect of perception is easier to understand in terms of higher level perceptions, like perceptions of principles. We can perceive different degrees of to which a person is following the principle of being honest. And this perception must be based on things that are happening “out there” in the environment; as in the case of the “chair” perception there is something going on “out there” that corresponds to the perception of honesty. But in the case of the principle of honesty it’s easier to conceive of this perception as being constructed rather than being the detection (or representation) of something that is actually “out there”. But in PCT what is true of the perception of honesty is true of the perception of the chair; both are perceptions constructed from the sensory effects of physical variables by perceptual functions.Â

RM: According to PCT, in order to understand behavior we have to understand what perceptual variables are controlled by organisms.Â And this requires finding out what perceptual variables are actually constructed by the perceptual functions of organisms. And we can only find this out by developing ways of testing to see what aspects of the environment are actually being controlling by living control systems – a research program that has barely begun.Â

BestÂ

Rick

## Â

Richard S. MarkenÂ

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.â€?
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[From Rupert Young (2017.01.11 19.30)]

(Martin Taylor 2017.01.07.13.31]

[From Rupert Young (2017.01.07 14.30)]

Well, I'm glad that controversy has been cleared up and put to bed!

Isn't there supposed to be a "tongue-in-cheek" smiley for that?

A sad face was probably most appropriate

I have a problem with your word "embodied". Are you thinking only of tangible objects in the environment, because I certainly am not. Indeed, I can't conceive of any control of a tangible object as such. I imagine controlling the location of an object, the colour of an object, the spatial relation between two objects, the identity of an object, etc., etc. All of what I can imagine controlling are intangible properties that are of the object in the environment. Where are they "embodied"?

They are not embodied (in the environment), that is my point. But variables under control are embodied in the neural structure as perceptions. Btw, did you mean " controlling the [perception of the] location of an object, the [perception of the] colour of an object, the [perception of the] spatial relation between two objects, the identity of an object, etc"?

I am glad you are not talking about tangible things, but then it does not seem valid (and is misleading) to talk about such variables being "in" the environment, dots below the line, whereas the dots above the line are tangible as they are embodied in the neural infrastructure as neural signals.

Thanks for pointing out the inconsistency of naming in my web pages. I'll check it out. But I think you didn't get the point of the vectors, which is all about efficiency and side-effect interactions that lead to reorganization to diminish side-effects while increasing efficiency of control. The input and output functions change. Those functions are what the vectors represent, not the values of the variables.

There were some interesting points about learning there for which I'll start another thread. Though for the moment how does a vector "represent" a function as opposed to the being the inputs to the function?

I notice that you refer to the CEV as a vector (as opposed to the scalar variable of the perception), which may be part of our misunderstanding. I am with you on there being a vector, but that would mean that, as I have been saying, the perception does not directly correspond to the CEV; one's a scalar and one's a vector; the scalar is constructed from the vector.

I'll have a look at that, too, because there's obviously room for misunderstanding in my wording. The scalar in question is the magnitude of the vector. The issues of side effects and efficiencies have to do with phase angles. The perceptual FUNCTION directly corresponds to the vector, and defines the CEV. The scalar is not constructed from the vector, but the vector can be described in terms of magnitude and phase angle. That's actually quite a reasonable way to describe it if you are trying to do the TCV in a continuous space, since what the test is getting at is the phase angle (what function is apparently controlled) and the magnitude (what is the reference value).

Perhaps, you could expand on what this "The perceptual FUNCTION directly corresponds to the vector" means too?

Let's go at it from the other side, and hypothesize that there is some real thing in the environment, say a collapsible chair. Assume for the moment that the chair is truly as we perceive it. I control for perceiving myself to be sitting on it, but it is currently collapsed. "Collapsed" is a perception of the angle between the legs and the seat. Either that angle exists in the truly existing chair or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then I can't control a perception of it.

We can agree that there are physical objects in the environment, but there are many problems with what you have said here. There may be two pieces of wood but what does it mean to say that the angle between them exists, independently of an observer (perceived angle is dependent upon perspective)? The Ames room shows that those perceived angles don't exist. A major problem is that you are extrapolating from the observation that there may be correspondence between low level perceptions and primitive real world entities to there being the same correspondence at all other levels. This need not be the case, and, I would say, is most definitely not as you go up the hierarchy. Such extrapolation is a reductio ad absurdum and leads to such ludicrous conclusions that variables such as honesty, love, neatness exist in the environment. There is a further problem with your last sentence as it is presuming that perceptions are about entities in the environment (the representation problem). It is not necessary for something to exist in the environment for an internal variable to be under control. All that is required is for primitive values, that are inputs to the perceptual functions, to be affected by the behavioural outputs. For example, my scenario of the robot control of sensor sum.

I think that's all a bit ridiculous. If the collapsible chair exists in the environment, as, by assumption, it does, then so does the configuration variable that moves continuously from "collapsed" to "uncollapsed". So do the angles between chair seat and legs. So does the seat height when uncollapsed. So does the variable "sittable-on-ness".

(That sounds like affordances.) But things like "sittable-on-ness" are perceptions and not properties of the environment.

Bottom line, either there's nothing in the real world to perceive and control or there is.

This discussion isn't, and never has been, about there being nothing in the world. But that there is only primitive variables from which complex perceptions are constructed. The complexity only exists as perception. A pile of bricks is not a wall.

If there is, then all the things we perceive may have real world correspondences, and if we can control them, they do.

We seem to be going around in circles, where are the real world correspondences for honesty, the feeling of laughter, anxiety, the feeling of intoxication etc, etc, etc? I think part of the problem is that you seem to be limiting your thinking to physical objects and that we are controlling them rather than just manipulating them to control internal perceptions, and we also control perceptions which are abstract concepts which have little to do with the external world. But a theory of perceptual control must apply to all of these are not just the conspicuous physical scenarios.

This discussion doesn't seem to be going anywhere so I'll probably leave it for a while as I'd rather devote my time to actually building working control systems. If that work relied only upon real world correspondences for the perceptions they control then they would be very limited. Fortunately they work very well controlling variables that are composed of multiple primitive values that may be derived from the environment, but there is nothing in the environment that could be said to represented by those controlled variables.

Rupert

[Martin Taylor 2017.11.1.23.03]

[From Rupert Young (2017.01.11 19.30)]

...
I think part of the problem is that you seem to be limiting your thinking to physical objects and that we are controlling them rather than just manipulating them to control internal perceptions, and we also control perceptions which are abstract concepts which have little to do with the external world. But a theory of perceptual control must apply to all of these are not just the conspicuous physical scenarios.

That's funny. I thought the problem was exactly the opposite, that you were the one limiting your thinking to tangible objects. I have been trying to persuade you that the intangible properties are as much in the environment as are the tangible ones.

Remember, this all started with my assertion that the taste of lemonade was indeed something that could be attributed to the environment, and offered as my proof the fact that if I altered the variables that entered into that perception (or seemed to), the effects on another person's perception of "lemonade-tasting-ness" was close to being the same as mine. Since we can both manipulate the environment in the same way to produce the same effects in each other on a perception that we think is "the same" as near as we can tell, then the property whose perception we are influencing must be in the environment.

This discussion doesn't seem to be going anywhere so I'll probably leave it for a while as I'd rather devote my time to actually building working control systems. If that work relied only upon real world correspondences for the perceptions they control then they would be very limited. Fortunately they work very well controlling variables that are composed of multiple primitive values that may be derived from the environment, but there is nothing in the environment that could be said to represented by those controlled variables.

I agree that the discussion is going nowhere, but nevertheless I would make a very slight change: "there is nothing in the environment that could be said to represented by those controlled variables" -> "I have no perceptual function for the properties of the environment that are represented by those controlled variables". Your robot does have the requisite perceptual functions, or it wouldn't work. And I wonder what those "multiple primitive values" correspond to in the environment. I know Rick would probably respond with words like "photons", theoretically derived entities that nobody has ever seen, but I imagine you have a better concept of what is actually a primitive value derived from the environment.

Martin

···

Rupert

[From Rupert Young (2017.01.21 16.20)]

Fyi, I'm reading this paper as it is relevant to this topic and was pleasantly surprised to see that Bill is quoted, on p274. Not actually to do with representations but on the multi-level view of behaviour.

Doing Without Representations Which Specify What To Do
Keijzer, F. 1998 In : Philosophical Psychology. 1998, 11, p. 269-302 34

Regards,

Rupert

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

``````Here's my long-winded response (I must get a life!), of some
``````

thoughts on my perspective.

``````(Martin Taylor 2016.12.06.13.53]
``````
``````  2: [RY] [MT]... more than once you have said that you
``````

KNOW that there are “no dots below the line”, … [RY] It’s not a
matter of knowing in the sense of having knowledge of the external
world, but that it is a conclusion which follows from my
understanding of PCT; particularly of a non-representational view
of controlled variables.

``````  [MT] For me, this suggests that your understanding of PCT differs
``````

profoundly from mine, so I suppose we should investigate why. I

``````  ![Representation (was Re TCV and.jpg|439x431](upload://9uzxwBDk7Ldpb0pxTpQciL1Kdjr.jpeg)

Questions (they are leading questions, but they may have
``````

``````  A: Is this a fair representation of a control loop?

B: Is the set of three functions "Perceptual Function",
``````

“Comparator”, and “Output Function” the internal part of the
control loop (and the grey area the external part of the control
loop). (For convenience, I call this set of connected functions an
“Elementry Control Unit” or “ECU”.)

``````  C: Are the values labelled "p", "r", "e", "o" and "d" the values
``````

of variables with conventional names respectively “perception”,
“reference”, “error”, “output”, and “disturbance”. Properly
speaking, I should use notations parallel to p(t) to make clear
that these are variables as functions of time, but I hope that
would be unnecessary clutter, and we can just take it for granted
– though I find taking things for granted has not always panned

``````I'll go along with these first three. But, of course, we are talking
``````

about the model rather than a real control system, in which there
are no labels as there are here. There are just neural signals, and
all that matters to the real system is that particular signals are
brought to values which help it survive. We impose labels upon the
arrangement in order for us to make some sense of the functional
operation of the nervous system and for us to try and understand
what is going on. However, once we do that there is a danger that
the words we use may have connotations for us that do not completely
accurately portray the actual situation, and may even mislead us to
conceptualise the system in a way that is erroneous. This may seem
obvious, but is relevant to later points. I’ll also just mention
that when I am talking about perception I just mean neural signals
and not the conscious experience that may go with them; that, I
think, is a distraction to this discussion.

D: Is the value labelled “s” or “q.i” a variable?

``````This is where I disagree. It is not (as a rule) a single variable,
``````

in my view, but a set of variables, which are inputs to the input
function, as shown by Rick the other day with his diagram with the
set of “v” variables. I believe the Big Powowski himself described
q.i as a convenient fiction; something that helps us understand
control systems, but is not something (a single variable) that
actually exists in the external world. (NB: I’ll use “external
world” rather than “environment” as I mean external to the whole
perceptual hierarchy of the organism, as I know you (Martin)
sometimes use “environment” to mean external to a particular control
system, but still within the hierarchy.) There may be, I suppose, a
single variable at the very lowest level, but even there do
intensities correspond do single raw external variables or
combinations thereof?

``````  My answers to these questions are all "Yes", but I'm
``````

guessing yours are not, because if they are, my version of logic
suggests that since the value of “p” is strictly determined by the
value of “s” or “q.i”, therefore “perception” is a direct
representation of whatever name you want to give to the variable
labelled “s” or “q.i”.

``````I see this is where the problem, the difference in our perspectives,
``````

lies, with the concept of “representation”. I think this may be
derived from the connotations associated with the use of the label
“perception”, which may be thought of as denoting something in the
environment.

``````But what is representation and what do we mean by it? One way the
``````

term might be used is give a name to something, such as saying this
neural signal “represents” fear. But that is just self-referential
labelling and not what we are talking about here.

``````What we mean here is that an internal (neural) signal corresponds to
``````

(“represents”) an external variable; “representation” is a property
of perceptions. But I think this is erroneous and not the right way
to think about the concept. It is not some physical law or a
property of perceptual systems, but merely a perspective that helps
us understand control systems. Sometimes! But sometimes not, and can
actually be downright misleading. Sometimes perceptions can be
thought of as representing variables in the external world, but
other times there are no corresponding external variables. One way
of testing this (mentally) is by removing the perceiving system and
thinking about whether there is still an external variable that
corresponds to the perception.

``````Here's some examples to illustrate how I think about this:
``````
• ``````    When taking a shower we turn the dial to control the feeling
``````

of comfort related to the temperature of the water. I don’t
particularly have problem with saying that the perception
represents the water temperature. But only as a loose
description of there being some sort of correlation between the
feeling and the temperature. Temperature is actually, I believe,
an indication of the speed of molecules within the water, in
this case. Now I don’t know how the perception is constructed,
but it doesn’t seem likely that it is a direct representation of
the molecule speed. It seems more likely that it is constructed
from a set of sensations and intensities of reactions on the
skin. The perception itself is a variable on the right-hand side
of the perceptual function combining a set of inputs, but in
itself does not exist independently of the perceiving system.
Incidentally, in this case, if the showerer were to leave the
bathroom and leave the shower running there would still be a
variable (water temperature) that exists, independently of the
subject (or any) perceiving system.

• ``````    When we are speaking face-to-face with someone we control the
``````

proximity at a comfortable level. You could say that the
proximity perception represents the distance between the two
people, but this is just a way, in this case, of interpreting
what they are doing that is useful to an external observer. And
an external observer would be able to take measurements related
to the perception. If the subjects were to leave there would no
longer be a variable in existence; it is dependent upon the
subject perceiving system.

• ``````    When viewing the Ames room the subject perceives a rectangular
``````

room, but in this case there is no rectangular room. In other
words, there is no external variable that the perception
represents. But there is the set of inputs that give rise to the
perception. The perceptual function creates the perception here
irrespective of whether or not there is correspondence in the
external world. In this case there isn’t even anything (a single
variable) in the external world that could be labelled as the
represented variable.
The first two examples give the false impression that perceptions
directly represent equivalent complex variables in the external
world rather than being constructions of sets of raw external
variables. Representation is a perspective that may be of use (a
convenient fiction) in some circumstances, but its use is limited
and is not a general rule when it comes to the signals we call
perceptions.

``````Here are some other examples that are closer to the third example
``````

above:

• ``````    Pain is a variable that only exists as a perception, internal
``````

to the perceiving system. It seems ludicrous to me to talk of a
variable “pain” that exists in the external world.

• ``````    My robot example mentioned previously perceives, and controls,
``````

a smoothed sum of sensor values. There is no such variable
external to the system. It is entirely dependent upon the
internal hierarchical structure.

• ``````    Likewise with perceptions such as honesty, fear, anxiety,
``````

hunger, religious beliefs, love etc. There are no corresponding
variables in the external world. They are internal constructions
for the purpose of being controlled to aid survival, not
properties of the external world.

• ``````    With random dot stereograms there is no "dolphin" variable in
``````

the external world. The only time a “dolphin” variable exists is
when the focus of the eyes is adjusted to form the perception,
and the only place that it exists is internal to the system, on
the right-hand side of the perceptual function. Though what does
exist externally are the constituents that become inputs to the
function, by way of the sensory interface.

• ``````    Something simple like a plankton could be seen to be
``````

controlling variables that represent the direction of light and
the intensity of light, but ultimately it is controlling its own
energy levels (which it gets from light) which is not an
external variable. It may well help us observers to make sense
of the behaviour of the plankton to think of the former two
variables as “representative” of external variables, but to the
organism it is irrelevant. They are just lower level variables
by which it can control its higher level goal.

• ``````    We often hear about the way women dress (short skirts, not
``````

wearing a veil) as being responsible for being perceived as
“provocative”. I think this situation falls under the
representation misconception, that somehow there is something in
the external world that is being “detected” rather than a
subjective perception constructed according to the particular,
prejudicial make-up of a particular perceiver.
The signals being controlled, at anything above the very lowest
level, derive from functions of sets of lower level values, and only
exist as unique constructions that do not correspond to external
variables. Some, though, may have the appearance of representing
external variables, to an observer; but this is an illusion, a
convenient fiction. In my opinion, it is misconceived to apply the
representation perspective as a general rule or property of the
signals we call controlled variables.

So, to summarise a few points:

• ``````    Some perceptions may appear to correspond to external
``````

variables, others do not.

• ``````    I suggest we forget, for the moment anyway, about
``````

representation, and even about signals as being described as
perceptions.

• ``````    Rather, let's just think of them as inputs (controlled
``````

variables), without any imposed meaning. That is, outputs of
what we have been calling “perceptual” functions which are
inputs to higher systems, but also under control themselves.

• ``````    These functions are not about extracting, recognising or
``````

detecting variables from the external world, but about
constructing variables to be controlled.

• Organisms control these inputs in order to survive.

• To this end the main thing under control is energy levels.

• ``````    The purpose of all other controlled variables, is to help with
``````

achieving that main goal.

• ``````    Input Control Theory works perfectly well without thinking
``````

about these inputs as being “representative”.

This may seem something of a philosophical discussion, but I think
it crucially relevant to both how we understand control systems and
how we go about constructing artificial control systems. If we think
all controlled variables must represent some variable in the
external world then we are going to neglect from our implementations
variables that do not, such as my sensor sum example. As the latter,
in my view, correspond to the majority of controlled variables then
our ability to build advanced artificial control systems is going to
be severely restricted, if not impossible.

This all seems sort of obvious to me, may be it does to others. On
the other hand, if one has generally thought of perceptions as being
representative of variables in the external world then this may seem
alien (or crazy) to you and perhaps your first inclination is to
disagree. But hopefully I’ve done enough so that you understand my
perspective even if you do not agree. However, I request that you
don’t dismiss this out of hand, but mull it over and give some time
to think about. Hopefully, after some consideration, you may also
see that it makes sense, and provides a more liberal and less
restricted understanding of the theory than might otherwise be the
case.

Rupert

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.11.10.15]

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

Here's my long-winded response (I must get a life!), of some thoughts on my perspective.

And here's a very short response to something you wrote right at the end of your long message, which I have yet to digest and think about properly. When I have,I expect to provide a proper response.

... if one has generally thought of perceptions as being representative of variables in the external world then this may seem alien (or crazy) to you and perhaps your first inclination is to disagree. But hopefully I've done enough so that you understand my perspective even if you do not agree.

If you remember, my position throughout, the position you didn't like, was a radical constructivist one: that the perceptual system CONSTRUCTS the variables we perceive in the environment of any individual control unit, whether all the variables that enter the perceptual function come from the external world, all from inside the skin, or some from each part of the environment of the ECU. Each level of that construction uses the building blocks developed at a simpler level, all the way down to the direct sensor systems on which the (presumed to exist) real world impinges.

You can't perceive anything in the external world for which you have no perceptual function. Your can't control anything you can't perceive. Control of perceptions created by the perceptual functions we have developed have served to keep us alive to this moment and our ancestors alive long enough to propagate, all while living in whatever external world might exist. So although we construct our perceptual world, at least some of the building blocks we use in that construction must have a pretty strong relationship with that external world.

Even a radical constructivist must survive in the real world, whether that real world is knowable or not.

Martin

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.12 12.20)]

(Martin Taylor 2016.12.11.10.15]

Your response suggests to me that I haven't got my point across. Maybe digestion will help, but here are a few quick points.

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

Here's my long-winded response (I must get a life!), of some thoughts on my perspective.

And here's a very short response to something you wrote right at the end of your long message, which I have yet to digest and think about properly. When I have,I expect to provide a proper response.

... if one has generally thought of perceptions as being representative of variables in the external world then this may seem alien (or crazy) to you and perhaps your first inclination is to disagree. But hopefully I've done enough so that you understand my perspective even if you do not agree.

If you remember, my position throughout, the position you didn't like, was a radical constructivist one: that the perceptual system CONSTRUCTS the variables [we perceive in the environment] of any individual control unit,

apart from the part in the brackets, as it seems to imply that perception is about RE-construction of variables which exist in the environment, rather than just construction of new variables.

whether all the variables that enter the perceptual function come from the external world, all from inside the skin, or some from each part of the environment of the ECU. Each level of that construction uses the building blocks developed at a simpler level, all the way down to the direct sensor systems on which the (presumed to exist) real world impinges.

Agreed.

You can't perceive anything in the external world for which you have no perceptual function.

Well, I think there is a problem with what is meant by "perception" here. I infer from your usage that you take it (perception) to mean that it is about re-creating a variable that exists in the external world; the representative view, which I am suggesting needs to be re-conceived.

Your can't control anything you can't perceive.

But what is being controlled is an internal variable, not something in the environment.

Control of perceptions created by the perceptual functions we have developed have served to keep us alive to this moment and our ancestors alive long enough to propagate, all while living in whatever external world might exist. So although we construct our perceptual world, at least some of the building blocks we use in that construction must have a pretty strong relationship with that external world.

Even a radical constructivist must survive in the real world, whether that real world is knowable or not.

I agree with all this (though we may not be thinking about "perception" in the same way), but would say that constructivism does not equal representationalism (is that a word?). Internal variables under control may be _connected_ to (raw) variables in the external world, by way of the hierarchy, but there is not, necessarily, a variable that corresponds to the (complex) internal variable.

While you are digesting perhaps you would consider the following question; are there _any_ circumstances in which you see that a (internal) variable is being controlled for which there is _not_ a corresponding external variable?

One of the greatest insights, for me, of PCT is that it is precisely the control of (internal) variables that do _not_ have corresponding variables that exist in the external world that provides an explanation for animal behaviour, including all of human society and civilisation,

Rupert

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.12.11.58]

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.12 12.20)]

(Martin Taylor 2016.12.11.10.15]

Your response suggests to me that I haven't got my point across. Maybe digestion will help, but here are a few quick points.

I guess we have to wait and see, but I think the feeling is mutual, which probably means we are using words differently. I'd like to concentrate on that before worrying about the bigger picture. All the same, I think I can put in a short paragraph my "bigger picture" point, which you don't seem to have seen. If this short paragraph doesn't help. please ignore it until we can sort out the basic language.

My point is that the internal world of perception and action is part of a grand feedback loop of which the other part consists of whatever is in the real world. In Powers's terms, the internal part of this loop is the reorganization system, extended to evolutionary time. Just as in the canonical control loop output is varied until perception matches reference, so in this meta-loop the perceptual control structure is varied until the organism survives well (which implies "controls its perceptions well") in the real world. It cannot control its perceptions well if its actions do not influence something in the real world that is related to a perception, nor can it do so unless its perceptions correspond to something it influences. The inner world is tuned to whatever is in the real world, whatever that may be.

are there _any_ circumstances in which you see that a (internal) variable is being controlled for which there is _not_ a corresponding external variable?

It depends on what you mean by "external" and by "control". I can imagine lots of circumstances in which the variable being controlled is not external to the organism, but if you mean external to the ECU, then we have to examine what is meant by "Control". Must "control" be done by a canonical control loop, as has sometimes been asserted on CSGnet? If it must, the question answers itself, and the answer is "No". That leaves the case in which we are talking about a feedback loop other than the standard loop that is always taken as the basis of discussion on CSGnet. Since the answer depends on the definition of "control", this leads back to the definition of words. Two words that we seem to have a problem with are "variable" and "perception".

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

D: Is the value labelled "s" or "q.i" a variable?

This is where I disagree. It is not (as a rule) a single variable, in my view, but a set of variables, which are inputs to the input function,

From this answer, I assume that if x and y are variables, and z = x+y, then z is not a variable. As I use the word "variable", z is indeed a variable. So we must agree on a definition of "variable". I propose: "variable" -- a quantity that changes, commonly over time, but possibly when other variables change.

How would you define "variable" as you are using the term in the present discussion?

"Perception" or "perceptual signal" or "perceptual value": In this discussion I am using the PCT definition, namely the scalar variable output of a perceptual function that has inputs that are themselves variables, at least some of which derive ultimately from sensors. The sensors may be of influences from the world outside the organism, or of states within the organism, some of which may themselves be perceptions (and usually are). Unfortunately, this definition depends on my definition of "variable", so I assume you have a different idea of a "perception".

If we clarify these two apparent difference of usage, maybe we can move on to clarifying what is mean by "control" so that I can answer your question. Specifically, is homeostasis "control", and is a variable in a homeostatic loop that has a reference value toward which it tends "controlled"?.

Martin

···

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

Here's my long-winded response (I must get a life!), of some thoughts on my perspective.

And here's a very short response to something you wrote right at the end of your long message, which I have yet to digest and think about properly. When I have,I expect to provide a proper response.

... if one has generally thought of perceptions as being representative of variables in the external world then this may seem alien (or crazy) to you and perhaps your first inclination is to disagree. But hopefully I've done enough so that you understand my perspective even if you do not agree.

If you remember, my position throughout, the position you didn't like, was a radical constructivist one: that the perceptual system CONSTRUCTS the variables [we perceive in the environment] of any individual control unit,

apart from the part in the brackets, as it seems to imply that perception is about RE-construction of variables which exist in the environment, rather than just construction of new variables.

whether all the variables that enter the perceptual function come from the external world, all from inside the skin, or some from each part of the environment of the ECU. Each level of that construction uses the building blocks developed at a simpler level, all the way down to the direct sensor systems on which the (presumed to exist) real world impinges.

Agreed.

You can't perceive anything in the external world for which you have no perceptual function.

Well, I think there is a problem with what is meant by "perception" here. I infer from your usage that you take it (perception) to mean that it is about re-creating a variable that exists in the external world; the representative view, which I am suggesting needs to be re-conceived.

Your can't control anything you can't perceive.

But what is being controlled is an internal variable, not something in the environment.

Control of perceptions created by the perceptual functions we have developed have served to keep us alive to this moment and our ancestors alive long enough to propagate, all while living in whatever external world might exist. So although we construct our perceptual world, at least some of the building blocks we use in that construction must have a pretty strong relationship with that external world.

Even a radical constructivist must survive in the real world, whether that real world is knowable or not.

I agree with all this (though we may not be thinking about "perception" in the same way), but would say that constructivism does not equal representationalism (is that a word?). Internal variables under control may be _connected_ to (raw) variables in the external world, by way of the hierarchy, but there is not, necessarily, a variable that corresponds to the (complex) internal variable.

While you are digesting perhaps you would consider the following question; are there _any_ circumstances in which you see that a (internal) variable is being controlled for which there is _not_ a corresponding external variable?

One of the greatest insights, for me, of PCT is that it is precisely the control of (internal) variables that do _not_ have corresponding variables that exist in the external world that provides an explanation for animal behaviour, including all of human society and civilisation,

Rupert

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.14 12.15)]

(Martin Taylor 2016.12.12.11.58]

My point is that the internal world of perception and action is part of a grand feedback loop of which the other part consists of whatever is in the real world. In Powers's terms, the internal part of this loop is the reorganization system, extended to evolutionary time. Just as in the canonical control loop output is varied until perception matches reference, so in this meta-loop the perceptual control structure is varied until the organism survives well (which implies "controls its perceptions well") in the real world. It cannot control its perceptions well if its actions do not influence something in the real world that is related to a perception, nor can it do so unless its perceptions correspond to something it influences. The inner world is tuned to whatever is in the real world, whatever that may be.

Absolutely! I agree with all that. Though rather than "its perceptions correspond to something it influences" I'd say "its perceptions are affected by what it influences [via action]", which is the essence of our difference, I think. To give another example, of Rick's baseball catching work, what would the variable, in the external world that corresponds to (rather than relates to) the (internal) controlled variable of the optical velocity of the ball on the retina?

Two words that we seem to have a problem with are "variable" and "perception".

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

D: Is the value labelled "s" or "q.i" a variable?

This is where I disagree. It is not (as a rule) a single variable, in my view, but a set of variables, which are inputs to the input function,

From this answer, I assume that if x and y are variables, and z = x+y, then z is not a variable. As I use the word "variable", z is indeed a variable. So we must agree on a definition of "variable". I propose: "variable" -- a quantity that changes, commonly over time, but possibly when other variables change.

How would you define "variable" as you are using the term in the present discussion?

I agree with you definition of "variable"; though probably not with your definition of q.i.

"Perception" or "perceptual signal" or "perceptual value": In this discussion I am using the PCT definition, namely the scalar variable output of a perceptual function that has inputs that are themselves variables, at least some of which derive ultimately from sensors. The sensors may be of influences from the world outside the organism, or of states within the organism, some of which may themselves be perceptions (and usually are). Unfortunately, this definition depends on my definition of "variable", so I assume you have a different idea of a "perception".

I am happy with that definition too.

If we clarify these two apparent difference of usage, maybe we can move on to clarifying what is mean by "control" so that I can answer your question. Specifically, is homeostasis "control", and is a variable in a homeostatic loop that has a reference value toward which it tends "controlled"?.

I guess homeostasis is control, especially with a reference value.

Rupert

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.20.00.04]

Rupert, Do my postings this evening [Martin Taylor 2016.12.19.11.58] and the misleadingly time-stamped [Martin Taylor 2016.12.13.12.09] reconcile our views? I think they address the issues in your message. If they don't, then we need further interaction because we seem to be extremely close.

Martin

···

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.14 12.15)]

(Martin Taylor 2016.12.12.11.58]

My point is that the internal world of perception and action is part of a grand feedback loop of which the other part consists of whatever is in the real world. In Powers's terms, the internal part of this loop is the reorganization system, extended to evolutionary time. Just as in the canonical control loop output is varied until perception matches reference, so in this meta-loop the perceptual control structure is varied until the organism survives well (which implies "controls its perceptions well") in the real world. It cannot control its perceptions well if its actions do not influence something in the real world that is related to a perception, nor can it do so unless its perceptions correspond to something it influences. The inner world is tuned to whatever is in the real world, whatever that may be.

Absolutely! I agree with all that. Though rather than "its perceptions correspond to something it influences" I'd say "its perceptions are affected by what it influences [via action]", which is the essence of our difference, I think. To give another example, of Rick's baseball catching work, what would the variable, in the external world that corresponds to (rather than relates to) the (internal) controlled variable of the optical velocity of the ball on the retina?

Two words that we seem to have a problem with are "variable" and "perception".

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.10 21.30)]

D: Is the value labelled "s" or "q.i" a variable?

This is where I disagree. It is not (as a rule) a single variable, in my view, but a set of variables, which are inputs to the input function,

From this answer, I assume that if x and y are variables, and z = x+y, then z is not a variable. As I use the word "variable", z is indeed a variable. So we must agree on a definition of "variable". I propose: "variable" -- a quantity that changes, commonly over time, but possibly when other variables change.

How would you define "variable" as you are using the term in the present discussion?

I agree with you definition of "variable"; though probably not with your definition of q.i.

"Perception" or "perceptual signal" or "perceptual value": In this discussion I am using the PCT definition, namely the scalar variable output of a perceptual function that has inputs that are themselves variables, at least some of which derive ultimately from sensors. The sensors may be of influences from the world outside the organism, or of states within the organism, some of which may themselves be perceptions (and usually are). Unfortunately, this definition depends on my definition of "variable", so I assume you have a different idea of a "perception".

I am happy with that definition too.

If we clarify these two apparent difference of usage, maybe we can move on to clarifying what is mean by "control" so that I can answer your question. Specifically, is homeostasis "control", and is a variable in a homeostatic loop that has a reference value toward which it tends "controlled"?.

I guess homeostasis is control, especially with a reference value.

Rupert

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.24 18.00)]

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.20.00.04]

Rupert, Do my postings this evening [Martin Taylor 2016.12.19.11.58] and the misleadingly time-stamped [Martin Taylor 2016.12.13.12.09] reconcile o,ur views? I think they address the issues in your message. If they don't, then we need further interaction because we seem to be extremely close.

Hmm, not really. I printed out the latter which was 8 pages, and it took me an hour or so to digest, so was another long post, with a highly convoluted scenario, but, I'm afraid, I didn't feel that I was reading something that was particularly relevant to the discussion. Perhaps, you could clarify which parts you thought were relevant.

Preferably in 140 characters or fewer!

Rupert

···

On 20/12/2016 05:08, Martin Taylor wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.24.13.37]

A Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year.

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.24 18.00)]

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.20.00.04]

Rupert, Do my postings this evening [Martin Taylor 2016.12.19.11.58] and the misleadingly time-stamped [Martin Taylor 2016.12.13.12.09] reconcile o,ur views? I think they address the issues in your message. If they don't, then we need further interaction because we seem to be extremely close.

Hmm, not really. I printed out the latter which was 8 pages, and it took me an hour or so to digest, so was another long post, with a highly convoluted scenario, but, I'm afraid, I didn't feel that I was reading something that was particularly relevant to the discussion. Perhaps, you could clarify which parts you thought were relevant.

Preferably in 140 characters or fewer!

Very difficult to do since I thought that almost all of what I wrote was directly relevant to all the issues I thought remained. I don't know what you think are the remaining issues to which my messages were not relevant, so I think the ball is in your court.

Martin

···

On 20/12/2016 05:08, Martin Taylor wrote:

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.31 12.00)]

(Martin Taylor 2016.12.24.13.37]

[From Rupert Young (2016.12.24 18.00)]

[Martin Taylor 2016.12.20.00.04]

Rupert, Do my postings this evening [Martin Taylor 2016.12.19.11.58] and the misleadingly time-stamped [Martin Taylor 2016.12.13.12.09] reconcile o,ur views? I think they address the issues in your message. If they don't, then we need further interaction because we seem to be extremely close.

Hmm, not really. I printed out the latter which was 8 pages, and it took me an hour or so to digest, so was another long post, with a highly convoluted scenario, but, I'm afraid, I didn't feel that I was reading something that was particularly relevant to the discussion. Perhaps, you could clarify which parts you thought were relevant.

Preferably in 140 characters or fewer!

Very difficult to do since I thought that almost all of what I wrote was directly relevant to all the issues I thought remained. I don't know what you think are the remaining issues to which my messages were not relevant, so I think the ball is in your court.

Well, the ball was in the "Representation" post I wrote, with a couple of follow-ups, to which you have not yet responded. It need not be complicated, the best place to start was with the query I posed, "To give another example, of Rick's baseball catching work, what would the variable, in the external world that corresponds to (rather than relates to) the (internal) controlled variable of the optical velocity of the ball on the retina?"

Rupert

···

On 20/12/2016 05:08, Martin Taylor wrote: