[From Bill Powers (920815.0800)]
Penni Sibun (920814) --
You say some things, and represent others as saying some things, that fall
strangely on my ear. For example:
>for these folks
>and others in ai, for gibsonian psychologists, for
>ethnomethodologists, etc., agents and their worlds are *not
>separable*. how can you have a respond to b's stimulus when a and b
>are the same thing?
If they can't separate agents and their worlds, they're trying to use the
same model for the inanimate environment and for living systems. This is
simply a mistake: the inanimate world does not run by the same rules as the
animate one. Of course if you jack yourself up to a high enough level of
abstraction, everything is the same as everything. But then you have
nothing interesting to say, because all the interesting things we say about
ourselves and the world are about relationships between independent things.
If you can't tell things apart, because of having abstracted too far, then
you can't see any relationships.
If you (generic) don't distinguish between action and perception, then
there will be no place for a physical world that is influenced by action
and that is represented in turn in perception. It's hard for me to see how
a person who doesn't make this distinction can understand what it means to
say that action controls perception, unless that person means that
perception IS action, or that perception follows faithfully from action
(which it doesn't -- that's not the meaning of "control").
if you think it's too weird to consider that organism and environment
are fundamentally inseparable, why not consider a slightly different
take on it: action and perception are inseparable; there is no way
you can draw a line and say that on one side is the organism's action
and on the other is the organism's perception. on this view, what
could it mean to locate control in the head of the organism?
But action and perception are completely separable; among our most basic
and elementary demonstrations of control processes is one that shows an
almost total LACK of correlation between a person's actions and the
perception that they control. If you don't understand this fundamental
separation, then you've missed a basic point about how control works.
This is such a basic concept that I don't think we can understand each
other until we reach some sort of agreement on it.
Think of the car and driver. The driver controls a perception of the car's
position in its lane by the action of applying a turning-moment to the
steering wheel. Essentially all of the driver's actions are present only to
oppose the effects of independent disturbances on the car's path. Those
disturbances are unpredictable and invisible. Nevertheless, the driver's
actions correlate highly (negatively) with their net vector sum. But the
driver's actions correlate hardly at all with the visually-detected
position of the car on the road, which is the controlled perception.
How does this jibe with saying that action and perception are inseparable?