Rewards and Punishments (was also Re: short non-technical summary)

[Rick Marken 2018-07-15_12:31:38]

[Bruce Nevin 2018-07-12_20:39:46 ET]
Joh Orengo <http://7.12.18.10:34/>7.12.18.10:34 EEST --
JO: How do you think this [prediction] could relate to rewards?Â
BN: Reward and punishment are also loaded notions in PCT discourse.

RM: According to PCT, rewards, such as the food pellets delivered in an operant conditioning experiment, and punishments, such as the shocks delivered in such experiments, are disturbances to the variables the organism is controlling. Food pellets are a disturbance to variables such as the rate at which food input is being controlled; shocks (according to Powers, 1971, "Feedback Model of Behavior" in LCS I, p. 47)Â are a disturbance to the probability of getting shocked.Â
BestÂ
Rick
 >

···

We recognize that rewards and punishments do not control behavior (stimuli do not cause responses), but it is a reasonable inference from results of S-R experiments that rewards and punishments are influential on reference values for control and that they can influence structural consequences of learning and of reorganization such as the inputs to perceptual input functions, the relative contributions of those inputs, and other interconnections of control loops, and, in a very much related way, they can influence associative memory. I have no demonstration of any of that, but I suspect that much of the necessary work has actually been done but has not been properly understood, lost in the miasmas of S-R and S-[cognitive process]-R rationalizations.
I suggested that learning, understood as the refinement of input functions ('recognizers') and their reference inputs, etc., can also be talked about as the refinement of predictions. It appears that changes to the perceptual input functions, reference input functions, and the distribution of error output to diverse reference inputs can be influenced by success or failure of control of other variables that are linked by some environmental contingency. From the point of view of the subject organism, reward is control of a desired variable that is contingent upon perceiving and controlling in some way that the rewarder is controlling by means of the reward, and a punishment is conversely failure of control in a corresponding way.

Stories like <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Soldier_Švejk>The Good Soldier Švejk and <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22>Catch-22 illustrate some aspects of the unreliability of rewards and punishments, as likewise Sgt. Shaftoe in <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon>Crytonomicon and his ancestor 'Half-cocked' Jack Shaftoe in the preceding books of <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Baroque_Cycle>The Baroque Cycle. But there are countless other examples. Pre-literate peoples have recognized ironies of would-be 'prediction and control of behavior' in their oral literature. But though rewards and punishments are not causative, they are influential, no doubt. Ask anyone who has been involved with a cult, an authoritative and punitive family, the military, an abusive relationship, etc.

/Bruce

On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 3:40 PM Joh Orengo <<mailto:joh.orengo@protonmail.com>joh.orengo@protonmail.com> wrote:

[Joh Orengo <http://7.12.18.10:34>7.12.18.10:34 EEST]

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On July 12, 2018 8:46 PM, Bruce Nevin <<mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu>csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> wrote:

[Bruce Nevin 2018-07-12_09:59:50 ET]

Bart, I hope it is OK that I reply to the list. And I am glad that you're aiming to be at the conference in Evanston. I'm looking forward to seeing you again!

Bart Madden Jul 12, 2018, 9:19 AM --

Bart: Here is an excellent summary of a trend in neuroscience to treat the brain as a prediction machine that minimizes error.
<https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-make-sense-of-the-present-brains-may-predict-the-future-20180710/>>>>> https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-make-sense-of-the-present-brains-may-predict-the-future-20180710/

Screams out PCT.

Is anyone in PCT working with this stuff?

'Prediction' has become a loaded term in PCT discourse, apt to be a trigger for dismissal without further examination, but I agree with you, this looks worthy of closer consideration. A PCT theory of learning is still in a rudimentary state--a baby, if you will, and throwing out the bathwater of behaviorism has slowed its development while simultaneously raising hurdles for being perceived as properly understanding PCT if you come to it from that background.

"Every want is a prophesy." Instead of construing a desire (a reference perception with poorly controlled input) as a specification of lack, it can be understood as a prediction of what will be experienced when control is good. Learning as the refinement of input functions ('recognizers') and their reference inputs can also be talked about as the refinement of predictions. Non-PCT jargon, but on first glance it does sound quite well aligned with PCT.

"Every want is a prophesy" is a useful reversal of what may be habitual ways of thinking about wants and lacks. Construing a desire (a reference signal in a comparator with poorly controlled perceptual input) as a specification of lack is self-defeating if that perception of lack is a stable part of the context for controlling other perceptions. This is an important practical aspect of 'the power of positive thinking'. The converse is a basis of 'self-fulfilling prophesy'.Â

Excellent post, Bruce! How do you think this could relate to rewards?

Joh

In the same way, an expectation that no one understands PCT correctly, taken as a stable part of the perceived environment, can become a part of the environmental feedback function for controlling other perceptions, and its destabilization may actually be resisted. Looking back over the past almost 30 years I am wondering if this might sometimes have been an instance of collective control. I have no doubt that it has been sometimes an instance of individual control, because I have seen it in myself. Perceptions controlled by means of this perceived environmental stability ("others do not understand PCT correctly") include perceiving myself (and perceiving myself being perceived) as part of the in-group rather than those "others", and probably yes some of the 'invigorating' body states associated with conflict, so you are certainly not alone in that, Rick.

Warren has some remarkable skills in this area, which I admire and which I want to observe more closely in the hope of developing more refined and accurate perceptual input functions ('recognizers') for them, so that maybe I might improve my control of like perceptions. PCT learning theory applied--what a concept!

/Bruce

On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 9:19 AM Bartley Madden <<mailto:bartjm43@gmail.com>bartjm43@gmail.com> wrote:

I'll try to make the Evanston conference.

Here is an excellent summary of a trend in neuroscience to treat the brain as a prediction machine that minimizes error.
<https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-make-sense-of-the-present-brains-may-predict-the-future-20180710/>>>>> https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-make-sense-of-the-present-brains-may-predict-the-future-20180710/

Screams out PCT.

Is anyone in PCT working with this stuff??

Bart

On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 8:53 PM, Bruce Nevin <<mailto:bnhpct@gmail.com>bnhpct@gmail.com> wrote:

Ah, yes, I used the address that gmail pulled out of its memory, and I should have copied the one from Dag's fwd.

The conference is earlier in October, the 12th and 13th. Hope you can make it. Good luck with your worthy legislative agenda.

/Bruce

On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 8:33 PM, Dag Forssell <<mailto:dag@livingcontrolsystems.com>dag@livingcontrolsystems.com> wrote:

Bart,

I forwarded your email but not your gmail address. Bruce Nevin must have had an old yahoo address. Interestingly enough, you replied using the yahoo address.

With this mail, Bruce gets your gmail address.

I am glad I referred you to Bruce. I wish you could benefit from my presentation. It is carefully structured to explain to a lay audience -- anyone -- and get the significance of PCT across.

At 04:43 PM 4/27/2018, Bart Madden wrote:

Bruce

This is helpful. Thank you.

I am not sure if I can make the PCT conference.

I am committed to a major campaign now to pass my Free To Choose Medicine proposal in the U.S.
I know that I'll be going to make presentations to large groups in late Oct and Nov .... don't know exact
dates yet.

FTCM has some "control" aspects to it ..

An early version of these ideas was translated into Japanese and apparently played an important role
in Japan's 2014 passage of FTCM-type legislation for regenerative medicine drugs. This and other new
developments are reported in my new 3rd edition FTCM book

<https://www.amazon.com/Free-Choose-Medicine-Better-Sooner/dp/1934791679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524872193&sr=8-1&keywords=free+to+choose+medicine>>>>>>>> https://www.amazon.com/Free-Choose-Medicine-Better-Sooner/dp/1934791679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524872193&sr=8-1&keywords=free+to+choose+medicine

Finally, please use my gmail address noted above.

Bart

--------------------------------------------
On Fri, 4/27/18, Bruce Nevin <<mailto:bnhpct@gmail.com>bnhpct@gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: short non-technical summary
 To: "Bart Madden" <<mailto:bartmadden@yahoo.com>bartmadden@yahoo.com>
 Cc: "Dag Forssell" <<mailto:dag@livingcontrolsystems.com>dag@livingcontrolsystems.com>
 Date: Friday, April 27, 2018, 6:05 PM
Â
 Hi, Bart,
 As Dag has told you, he passed your email on to
 me. You say you need a one-sentence non-technical statement
 about PCT. Your first cut:
 Human behavior
 is best understood, not as responses to stimuli, but as
 taking actions to control the perceptions of variables that
 are important in keeping us on track to achieve our
 goals.Â
 The best way to say it is the best way for your
 reader to understand it, and that depends on who you're
 talking to. This talks to someone who presupposes that
 behavior is responses to stimuli. But for your intended
 "nontechnical" audience that might not be so. The
 typical response to me is "well, isn't that kind of
 obvious?"
 Your sentence above has the technical words
 responses, stimuli, perceptions, variables, and (though the
 reader doesn't know it yet) control.
 Where does the limit to one sentence come from?
 Whether one sentence or six, "nontechnical" calls
 for simple, direct, familiar language, and trying to
 shrink-wrap too much in one bundle makes that harder to do.
 Here are five sentences, for
 example:Â To state
 the blindingly obvious, when something isn't the way we
 want it to be, we act so as to fix that. Can you think of
 any human purposes that don't follow that general rule?
 But all too often we get at cross purposes. We can even get
 at cross purposes with ourselves. With PCT, learn how to see
 the purposes behind behavior and resolve
 conflicts.
 I'm not proposing that you use this. You need
 your own words that say what your book is about in a direct,
 non-technical way.
 I hope this is helpful, Bart. Are you planning on
 coming to the conference at Northwestern in
 October?
 /Bruce
Â
Â

--
Richard S. MarkenÂ
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Joh Orengo 7.16.18 10:07 EEST]

···

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

������� Original Message �������

On July 15, 2018 10:31 PM, Richard Marken csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Rick Marken 2018-07-15_12:31:38]

[Bruce Nevin 2018-07-12_20:39:46 ET]

Joh Orengo 7.12.18.10:34 EEST –

JO: How do you think this [prediction] could relate to rewards?

BN: Reward and punishment are also loaded notions in PCT discourse.

RM: According to PCT, rewards, such as the food pellets delivered in an operant conditioning experiment, and punishments, such as the shocks delivered in such experiments, are disturbances to the variables the organism is controlling. Food pellets are a disturbance to variables such as the rate at which food input is being controlled; shocks (according to Powers, 1971, “Feedback Model of Behavior” in LCS I, p. 47) are a disturbance to the probability of getting shocked.

Thanks, Rick. I haven’t had a chance to read “Feedback”, but when I was thinking about rewards and punishments I came to the same conclusion. That’s why I thought Kent’s current thinking on collective control could be used to help differentiate them more as seen in my post on 7.13.18 5:21 EEST in Re: short non-technical summary.

Joh

Best

Rick

We recognize that rewards and punishments do not control behavior (stimuli do not cause responses), but it is a reasonable inference from results of S-R experiments that rewards and punishments are influential on reference values for control and that they can influence structural consequences of learning and of reorganization such as the inputs to perceptual input functions, the relative contributions of those inputs, and other interconnections of control loops, and, in a very much related way, they can influence associative memory. I have no demonstration of any of that, but I suspect that much of the necessary work has actually been done but has not been properly understood, lost in the miasmas of S-R and S-[cognitive process]-R rationalizations.

I suggested that learning, understood as the refinement of input functions (‘recognizers’) and their reference inputs, etc., can also be talked about as the refinement of predictions. It appears that changes to the perceptual input functions, reference input functions, and the distribution of error output to diverse reference inputs can be influenced by success or failure of control of other variables that are linked by some environmental contingency. From the point of view of the subject organism, reward is control of a desired variable that is contingent upon perceiving and controlling in some way that the rewarder is controlling by means of the reward, and a punishment is conversely failure of control in a corresponding way.

Stories like *The Good Soldier Švejk *and Catch-22 illustrate some aspects of the unreliability of rewards and punishments, as likewise Sgt. Shaftoe in Crytonomicon and his ancestor ‘Half-cocked’ Jack Shaftoe in the preceding books of The Baroque Cycle. But there are countless other examples. Pre-literate peoples have recognized ironies of would-be ‘prediction and control of behavior’ in their oral literature. But though rewards and punishments are not causative, they are influential, no doubt. Ask anyone who has been involved with a cult, an authoritative and punitive family, the military, an abusive relationship, etc.

/Bruce

On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 3:40 PM Joh Orengo joh.orengo@protonmail.com wrote:

[Joh Orengo 7.12.18.10:34 EEST]

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

������� Original Message �������

On July 12, 2018 8:46 PM, Bruce Nevin csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[Bruce Nevin 2018-07-12_09:59:50 ET]

Bart, I hope it is OK that I reply to the list. And I am glad that you’re aiming to be at the conference in Evanston. I’m looking forward to seeing you again!

Bart Madden Jul 12, 2018, 9:19 AM –

Bart: Here is an excellent summary of a trend in neuroscience to treat the brain as a prediction machine that minimizes error.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-make-sense-of-the-present-brains-may-predict-the-future-20180710/

Screams out PCT.

Is anyone in PCT working with this stuff?

‘Prediction’ has become a loaded term in PCT discourse, apt to be a trigger for dismissal without further examination, but I agree with you, this looks worthy of closer consideration. A PCT theory of learning is still in a rudimentary state–a baby, if you will, and throwing out the bathwater of behaviorism has slowed its development while simultaneously raising hurdles for being perceived as properly understanding PCT if you come to it from that background.

“Every want is a prophesy.” Instead of construing a desire (a reference perception with poorly controlled input) as a specification of lack, it can be understood as a prediction of what will be experienced when control is good. Learning as the refinement of input functions (‘recognizers’) and their reference inputs can also be talked about as the refinement of predictions. Non-PCT jargon, but on first glance it does sound quite well aligned with PCT.

“Every want is a prophesy” is a useful reversal of what may be habitual ways of thinking about wants and lacks. Construing a desire (a reference signal in a comparator with poorly controlled perceptual input) as a specification of lack is self-defeating if that perception of lack is a stable part of the context for controlling other perceptions. This is an important practical aspect of ‘the power of positive thinking’. The converse is a basis of ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’.

Excellent post, Bruce! How do you think this could relate to rewards?

Joh

In the same way, an expectation that no one understands PCT correctly, taken as a stable part of the perceived environment, can become a part of the environmental feedback function for controlling other perceptions, and its destabilization may actually be resisted. Looking back over the past almost 30 years I am wondering if this might sometimes have been an instance of collective control. I have no doubt that it has been sometimes an instance of individual control, because I have seen it in myself. Perceptions controlled by means of this perceived environmental stability (“others do not understand PCT correctly”) include perceiving myself (and perceiving myself being perceived) as part of the in-group rather than those “others”, and probably yes some of the ‘invigorating’ body states associated with conflict, so you are certainly not alone in that, Rick.

Warren has some remarkable skills in this area, which I admire and which I want to observe more closely in the hope of developing more refined and accurate perceptual input functions (‘recognizers’) for them, so that maybe I might improve my control of like perceptions. PCT learning theory applied–what a concept!

/Bruce

On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 9:19 AM Bartley Madden bartjm43@gmail.com wrote:

I’ll try to make the Evanston conference.

Here is an excellent summary of a trend in neuroscience to treat the brain as a prediction machine that minimizes error.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-make-sense-of-the-present-brains-may-predict-the-future-20180710/

Screams out PCT.

Is anyone in PCT working with this stuff??

Bart

On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 8:53 PM, Bruce Nevin bnhpct@gmail.com wrote:

Ah, yes, I used the address that gmail pulled out of its memory, and I should have copied the one from Dag’s fwd.

The conference is earlier in October, the 12th and 13th. Hope you can make it. Good luck with your worthy legislative agenda.

/Bruce

On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 8:33 PM, Dag Forssell dag@livingcontrolsystems.com wrote:

Bart,

I forwarded your email but not your gmail address. Bruce Nevin must have
had an old yahoo address. Interestingly enough, you replied using the
yahoo address.

With this mail, Bruce gets your gmail address.

I am glad I referred you to Bruce. I wish you could benefit from my
presentation. It is carefully structured to explain to a lay audience –
anyone – and get the significance of PCT across.

At 04:43 PM 4/27/2018, Bart Madden wrote:

Bruce

This is helpful. Thank you.

I am not sure if I can make the PCT conference.

I am committed to a major campaign now to pass my Free To Choose Medicine
proposal in the U.S.

I know that I’ll be going to make presentations to large groups in late
Oct and Nov … don’t know exact

dates yet.

FTCM has some “control” aspects to it …

An early version of these ideas was translated into Japanese and
apparently played an important role

in Japan’s 2014 passage of FTCM-type legislation for regenerative
medicine drugs. This and other new

developments are reported in my new 3rd edition FTCM book

https://www.amazon.com/Free-Choose-Medicine-Better-Sooner/dp/1934791679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524872193&sr=8-1&keywords=free+to+choose+medicine

Finally, please use my gmail address noted above.

Bart


On Fri, 4/27/18, Bruce Nevin bnhpct@gmail.com wrote:

Subject: short non-technical summary

To: “Bart Madden” bartmadden@yahoo.com

Cc: “Dag Forssell”
dag@livingcontrolsystems.com

Date: Friday, April 27, 2018, 6:05 PM

Hi, Bart,

As Dag has told you, he passed your email on to

me. You say you need a one-sentence non-technical statement

about PCT. Your first cut:

Human behavior

is best understood, not as responses to stimuli, but as

taking actions to control the perceptions of variables that

are important in keeping us on track to achieve our

goals.Â

The best way to say it is the best way for your
reader to understand it, and that depends on who you’re
talking to. This talks to someone who presupposes that
behavior is responses to stimuli. But for your intended
“nontechnical” audience that might not be so. The
typical response to me is “well, isn’t that kind of
obvious?”
Your sentence above has the technical words
responses, stimuli, perceptions, variables, and (though the
reader doesn’t know it yet) control.
Where does the limit to one sentence come from?
Whether one sentence or six, “nontechnical” calls
for simple, direct, familiar language, and trying to
shrink-wrap too much in one bundle makes that harder to do.
Here are five sentences, for
example:Â To state
the blindingly obvious, when something isn’t the way we
want it to be, we act so as to fix that. Can you think of
any human purposes that don’t follow that general rule?
But all too often we get at cross purposes. We can even get
at cross purposes with ourselves. With PCT, learn how to see
the purposes behind behavior and resolve
conflicts.
I’m not proposing that you use this. You need
your own words that say what your book is about in a direct,
non-technical way.
I hope this is helpful, Bart. Are you planning on
coming to the conference at Northwestern in
October?
/Bruce

Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you

have nothing left to take away.�

                            --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[Rick Marken 2018-07-16_09:02:14]

[Bruce Nevin 2018-07-15_15:53:27 ET]

Rick Marken 2018-07-15_12:31:38

​ --​

[Bruce Nevin 2018-07-12_20:39:46 ET]
Joh Orengo <http://7.12.18.10:34/>7.12.18.10:34 EEST --
JO: How do you think this [prediction] could relate to rewards?Â
BN: Reward and punishment are also loaded notions in PCT discourse.

RM: According to PCT, rewards, such as the food pellets delivered in an operant conditioning experiment, and punishments, such as the shocks delivered in such experiments, are disturbances to the variables the organism is controlling. Food pellets are a disturbance to variables such as the rate at which food input is being controlled; shocks (according to Powers, 1971, "Feedback Model of Behavior" in LCS I, p. 47)Â are a disturbance to the probability of getting shocked.Â

​BN: Is that all that can be said about rewards and punishments within the PCT model as you understand it? Nothing about reorganization or other changes that might affect future behavior?

RM: Of course. But I just wanted to show how the concepts of reward and punishment are defined in terms of the variables in the PCT model. But rewards and punishments are, indeed, typically talked about in the context of learning -- in particular in the context of shaping behavior. But in PCT what are typically called rewards (things like food, money and sex) and punishments (painful things) have no special significance for reorganization (the process that results in new ways of behaving).Â
RM: Reorganization is aimed at gaining control of a variable. A variable that is not under control is one where disturbances are largely effective. So an external agent who can get into a position where he can reduce these disturbances only when an organism does certain things can "shape" the results of the reorganization process. This is usually done with things called rewards (like food pellets) which are provided only when an animal produces a particular behavior (such as a bar press). This behavior shaping agent is controlling behavior by forcing the development of a control system (via reorganization) that can protect a controlled variable (rate of food intake) from disturbance (not getting food) by controlling for pressing a bar.
RM: Since reorganization works to build control systems that keep any kind of variable under control (protected from disturbance) it should be possible to shape behavior by manipulating anything that is a disturbance to a variable that the organism is controlling -- not necessarily something that is typically thought of as a reward or a punishment. And I believe there is evidence that this is the case. For example, I recall some famous studies by Dave Premack (one of my professors in grad school) showing that rats can be trained to eat food in order to get a chance to run in an exercise wheel. Apparently rats control for getting a certain amount of exercise so locking the wheel is a disturbance to this variable. So rats will learn to eat (something that is typically thought of as a reward) in order to unlock the wheel and run (something that is typically thought of as the work done to get the rewards). It all comes clear when you look at behavior through PCT glasses.
Best
Rick

···

--
Richard S. MarkenÂ
"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
                --Antoine de Saint-Exupery