Sloman Control System

[From Rick Marken (970121.1300)]

Rupert Young (970121.1830 UT) --

I found this paper today which might be of interest to PCT'ers.

The Mind as a Control System by Aaron Sloman

I downloaded the paper but it was in a format that I was unable to
convert to readable form. But I did read Sloman's summary of the
paper at:

http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~axs/cog_affect/SLOMAN.PAPERS.html

Of course, I still would like to read the whole paper but, based on the
summary, it seems to me that Sloman doesn't have a clue about what it
means to view the "The mind as a control system". Here is Sloman's
summary of the implications he derives from viewing "The mind as a
control system":

A number of implications are drawn out, including the implication
that there are many informational substates, some incorporating
factual information, some control information, using diverse forms
of representation.

Informational substates? Factual information? Control information?
What in the world are these things? And why would they be the main
implications of viewing "The mind as a control system"? Wouldn't the
main implication be that the mind is a purposeful agent that is busy
controlling perceptual representations of its environment?

I guess I'll have to read the whole paper to find the answers to these
questions. Can someone please send me an ASCII version of it -- or at
least a version that can be read into WORD?

Best

Rick

[From Rupert Young (970122.1100)]

Rick Marken (970121.1300)

> The Mind as a Control System by Aaron Sloman

I downloaded the paper but it was in a format that I was unable to
convert to readable form.

It was in a compressed postscript version. Is postscript any good to you? If
so, I've put a postscript copy at

http://www.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/R.Young/docs/papers/external.html

Bill said..

Well, I downloaded all 30 pages of it. I guess I should ask what YOU think

of it, Rupert.
...

And that Sloman doesn't even mention my name in his bibliography

Rick said...

Of course, I still would like to read the whole paper but, based on the
summary, it seems to me that Sloman doesn't have a clue about what it
means to view the "The mind as a control system".

I have only got through the first few pages as yet but I'll try to finish it
over the next few days. Especially as on Friday I am going to a workshop on
"Autonomous behaviour in Animals and Robots" where Sloman is one of the
speakers. I was surprised that there was no mention of you (Bill) or PCT in
the paper, but then I also don't understand why on my recent three year degree
in Artificial Intelligence (a large part of which Cognitive Psychology and
Philosophyh of mind) that there was not a single mention of PCT. I can only
surmise that the AI/Cog Sci community was stuck for too long on the high-level
computational, symbol manipulation approach out of which it has only recently
emerged with moves towards Artificial Life and Dynamical Systems.

If I get a chance I'll try and tackle Sloman and see if he knows anything
about PCT. Anything you'd like me to ask him ?

ยทยทยท

--
Regards,
Rupert

[From Bill Powers (970122.1015 MST)]

Rupert Young (970122.1100) --

I have only got through the first few pages as yet but I'll try to finish
it over the next few days. Especially as on Friday I am going to a
workshop on "Autonomous behaviour in Animals and Robots" where Sloman is
one of the speakers.

...

If I get a chance I'll try and tackle Sloman and see if he knows anything
about PCT. Anything you'd like me to ask him ?

You might congratulate him, from me, on having managed to recreate most of
the major points of my work (in general, if not in detail) without
apparently having needed to read anything I have said. Or if you need to be
a bit more tactful, you might just ask if he ever saw a book called
_Behavior: the control of perception_ way back in the '70s when he was
working on computations in the brain. The man has some major explaining to do.

If the occasion arises, you might also tell him that I'm alive and well and
living on CSGnet, along with a lot of other people who are interested in
this subject, in case he'd like to join in. After all, it's possible that he
DIDN'T just quietly appropriate my ideas, figuring I must have disappeared
20 years ago without anyone else remembering what some obscure American wrote.

Now that that's off my chest, maybe the best thing to do would be just to
observe and keep quiet. Don't get everyone mad at you for my sake.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (970122.1111 PST)]

Rupert Young (970122.1100) --

Anything you'd like me to ask him [Sloman] ?

Bill Powers (970122.1015 MST) --

You might congratulate him, from me, on having managed to recreate most of
the major points of my work (in general, if not in detail) without
apparently having needed to read anything I have said.

I've looked over Sloman's paper and the only thing I could find in it that
is even remotely similar to PCT is the VERY GENERAL idea of "the mind as a
hierarchy of control systems". That's it -- just that phrase. I agree that
that phrase is an exact paraphrase of how we would describe PCT. So it is
appalling that Sloman does not refer to your work, even in what he says is a
non - comprehensive bibliography. This is really crumby scholarship. But I
don't think I would count it as plagiarism. Sloman is so far from
understanding the basics of PCT that he makes Hans Blom look like a PCT
maven. I have not found a single idea in Sloman's paper that could count as
plagiarism. A little bit of plagiarism from B:CP would have materially
improved the content of Sloman's paper -- even if it would have further
eroded his status as a "gentleman and a scholar":wink:

Best

Rick

[From Bruce Gregory (970122,1430 EST)]

Rick Marken (970122.1111 PST)

I've looked over Sloman's paper and the only thing I could find in it that
is even remotely similar to PCT is the VERY GENERAL idea of "the mind as a
hierarchy of control systems". That's it -- just that phrase.

Thanks. That was my reaction as well, but I didn't read the
article as closely as I knew you would...

Bruce Gregory

[From Rick Marken (970122.1800 PST)]

After a more careful reading of Sloman's article I can see
why Bill went ballistic. While Sloman's coverage of control theory
is pretty poor, the architecture of Sloman's control hierarchy -- and
some of the things he says about it -- are just too close to
HPCT for comfort. To paraphrase one of my favorite movie lines:
"this was no theoretical boating accident":wink:

My apologies to Bruce Gregory for seeming like I had actually read
the Sloman paper carefully and completely;-)

Best

Rick

[From Bill Powers (970122.1945 MST)]

Rick Marken (970122.1111 PST)--

Rupert Young (970122.1100) --

Anything you'd like me to ask him [Sloman] ?

Bill Powers (970122.1015 MST) --

You might congratulate him, from me, on having managed to recreate most of
the major points of my work (in general, if not in detail) without
apparently having needed to read anything I have said.

I've looked over Sloman's paper and the only thing I could find in it that
is even remotely similar to PCT is the VERY GENERAL idea of "the mind as a
hierarchy of control systems". That's it -- just that phrase.

There is really lots more. He talks about layers of control and perception,
about analog systems as well as discrete. He says that control systems
compare "beliefs" (perceptions) with "goals" (reference signals). And many
other things. It's all mixed in with old AI ideas, but if you just dry-mark
everything that sounds familiar (skipping the rest) you'll end up with a
pretty colorful bundle of paper.

Mary has a different take on this article. She says that Sloman is a
potential bridge to the AI community, and that he probably developed all
these general ideas in the process of backing away from the views on AI
that he held in the 70s and 80s. He's dragging a lot of the old baggage
along with him, but Mary says he could very well have begun to see a
PCT-like way of understanding the brain all on his own.

My paranoid reaction belies what I really believe about PCT: that if I
hadn't put these ideas together, sooner or later someone else would have
done it, because _this is really how organisms work_. The other way to view
Sloman's paper is that this guy is ripe for PCT, and he may be stunned to
see so much of what he worked out in general terms presented in such a
specific form.

I guess it's up to Rupert to decide.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (970123.0950 EST)]

Rick Marken (970122.1800 PST)

My apologies to Bruce Gregory for seeming like I had actually read
the Sloman paper carefully and completely;-)

Damn. Now _I'll_ have to read it carefully. Oh, well...

Bruce Gregory