Understanding PCT, Adams' principle, Martin's theories

[From Rick Marken (961017.1100)]

Bill Benzon (961017) --

Whatever your largest claims, what you seem to investigate most closely is
the motoric control of visual variables (e.g. tracking). The control
systems which interest you have sensory input (vision) and motoric output.
Still, one needs to recognize a refrigerator before one can take an action
which will present you with the percption of an open refrigerator door,
etc.

It's statements like this that lead me to suspect that your understanding of
PCT differs substantially from mine. It's true that the control systems that
interest me have sensory input and motoric output. But that is because _all_
control systems have sensory input and motoric output -- systems that
control cursor position as well as systems that control political position.
Control systems control perceptions such as intensities, sensations,
configutations, transitions, events, relationships, sequences, catagories,
programs, principles, and systems concepts -- all of which are functions of
sensory input. If there is no sensory input then there are no perceptions to
control; if there is no motoric output then there are no ways to bring
perceptions to reference states and maintain them in those states against
disturbance.

Re: opening a refrigerator

In order to open a refrigerator door, one must be able to control the
relevant perceptual variables. One perception to control is the category
level perception of "refrigerator"; you have to be able to perceive that a
particular configuration is a refrigerator rather than a stove or window.
Another perception to control is the sequence of lower level perceptions
that constitute the event "opening the door"; another perception to
control is the angle of the door relative to the refrigerator compartment;
another is the force exerted on the door, and so on.

These perceptions are controlled by exerting "motoric" forces on the world.
These forces are always varying, as necessary, in order to produce the
intended perceptions while compensating for unpredictable disturbances. For
example, as you move to the "refrigerator" you see that it is actually the
"stove" (disturbance) so you turn toward another appliance that seems more
like the refrigerator. You start trying to perceive the "opening the door"
sequence and find that you are grasping at air because the handle is on the
left (disturbance) so you move your hand to the left and try to perceive a
change in the angle of the door; but this doesn't happen because the door is
stuck (disturbance) so you continue to increase the degree of pull that you
want to perceive until the door moves, the angle changes and the "opening the
door" perception is produced; now we try to perceive what we want in the
refrigerator (with door perception still in the state "open")...

re: just tracking studies

We study control using tracking for the same reason Galileo used balls
rolling down planes to study dynamics; because it gives us a clear
(measureable) view of all the variables and functions involved in the
phenomenon. Tracking lets us break control down to its bare essentials so
that we can see 1) that it is happening and 2) how it is happening.

The generality of the tracking task can be seen by remembering that the
position of the cursor is a _perceptual variable_. Instead of the position of
a cursor, the controlled variable could have been the size of a rectangle,
the pitch of a tone, the angle of a refrigerator door, the volume of the
stomach, the elegance of a computer program, the honesty of an offer, the
style of a melody or the cooperativeness of a relationship. I have done
studies where, instead of controlling the position of a cursor, the subject
controlled a _sequence_ of configurations or a _program_ of events. Informal
applications of The Test have also convinced me that people control their
perceptions of things like their place in line, the kind of music they listen
to and the kind of theories they believe in (among many others) and they
control these percppetion in just the same way as they control the position
of a cursor on the screen. Control is control, whatever the perception
controlled.

I think it would be wise to make sure you know what PCT _can_ explain (and
_how_ it explains it) before you start trying to invent ways to handle what
it presumably can't explain. I'm not saying PCT can handle everything or
that it is perfect as is. But it isn't very intresting to hear about what
PCT can't do when we already know that it _can_ do it. I would be thrilled to
see data that cannot be handled by PCT in its present form. I just don't
believe it would be possible to recognize such data without a clear
understanding of how PCT works -- in detail.

Me:

I want a model where the inputs and outputs are sensory.

Ye:

I don't see why PCTer's couldn't give some attention to the problem.

Because there is no reason to. That is, there is no data that suggests the
need for such a model and there is nothing wrong with the PCT model that
seems to demand such a change. In PCT, we develop models to explain phenomena
-- not because we find a particular kind of model "attractive" for some
reason. There are many people who do adopt models simply because they find
the model itself attractive. I call this "trendy science". I think the
popularity of "trendy science" in disciplines like psychology is a reflection
of just how far down a dead end such disciplines have wandered.

you seem to assume that a person who disagrees with you does so because they
don't understand your explanation.

I try not to do this but I'm sure that I too often succumb to this
misperception. In your case, the problem is that many of the things you say
(eg. "The control systems which interest you [Rick} have sensory input
(vision) and motoric output.", "I want a model where the inputs and outputs
are sensory") suggest that your understanding of PCT is _way_ different than
mine. This leads me to suspect that, perhaps, you may not have understood my
explanation in the way I intended it to be understood.

You seem rather blind to the possiblity that someone could (more or less)
understand your explanation and find it inadequate.

I'm sorry if I give you that impression. I am well aware of the fact that I
can be wrong about all kinds of things, including PCT. I participate on this
net to teach what I know about PCT _and_ to learn more about it. I will
defend (and try to promulgate) the ideas I think are correct. But I have
certainly been wrong about things and, hopefully, learned (changed by
ideas) from these mistakes. I will say that the best way to show me that I am
wrong -- the way that has the best chance of leading to me recognizing and
correcting the errors of my ways -- is through demonstration; particularly
modeling and testing. I'm a very simple-minded, concrete sorta guy. If you
can show me what you mean by, say, "a model where the inputs and outputs are
sensory" using with a computer program, an experiment or some other kind of
demonstration (such as the on-line Test for the Controlled Variable that I
did with Bruce A.) it would be a great help to me.

Mr. Remi Cote (961017.0817 EST) --

Is the concept of equity from Adams a good example of principle?

Sounds like it. Who is Adams?

Martin Taylor (961017 12:15) --

now you accuse _me_ of developing a "theory of social control"!!!!

Sorry. Poor choice of words. I know that you don't believe in "social
control" in the sense of an external controlling agency regulating social
variables. Perhaps I should have said "theory of social behavior" or "theory
of groups of control systems" instead?

Anyway, all I meant to do in the post where I said:

After reading Martin's (961015 11:30) reply to me, I realized that Martin's
approach to developing a theory of "social control" is very simliar to
Kepler's early approach to developing a theory of planetary orbits.

was to criticize your entire approach to theorizing, not the theory itself;-)

Best

Rick

Rick Marken (961017.1100) sez:

In order to open a refrigerator door, one must be able to control the
relevant perceptual variables. One perception to control is the category
level perception of "refrigerator"; you have to be able to perceive that a
particular configuration is a refrigerator rather than a stove or window.

And just how do you do that? We're not touching the refrigerator. We just
standing somewhere in the room looking around for the refrigerator. How do
we recognize it?

These perceptions are controlled by exerting "motoric" forces on the world.
These forces are always varying, as necessary, in order to produce the
intended perceptions while compensating for unpredictable disturbances.

I'm standing still, not moving. I'm looking right at the refrigerator.
What motoric force am I exerting on that refrigerator? Most probably I am
scanning it with my eyes. However, there is experimental evidence that we
can recognize many things with a single glance. Where is the motoric
output in single-glance recognition?

I think it would be wise to make sure you know what PCT _can_ explain (and
_how_ it explains it) before you start trying to invent ways to handle what
it presumably can't explain. I'm not saying PCT can handle everything or
that it is perfect as is. But it isn't very intresting to hear about what
PCT can't do when we already know that it _can_ do it. I would be thrilled to
see data that cannot be handled by PCT in its present form. I just don't
believe it would be possible to recognize such data without a clear
understanding of how PCT works -- in detail.

As for me. I'm tired of being treated as a witless moron. You seem to
think that no objection to any aspect of PCT could possibly arise from
substantive knowledge. Ergo the response to every objection is, learn
more, get with the program.

I don't see why PCTer's couldn't give some attention to the problem.

Because there is no reason to. That is, there is no data that suggests the
need for such a model and there is nothing wrong with the PCT model that
seems to demand such a change.

Except that PCT has no accounts of visual recognition (or aural
recognition, or haptic recognition, or olfactory recognition or taste
recognition). That means in some sense it is a blind theory. Muscle
output works to bring about certain perceptual situations, but you have no
account of how the visual system knows that the situation has been
obtained. You have this very nice theory about the control of something
you leave as a complete mystery. I guess you just leave solving the mystery
up to those guys and gals down the hall, but heaven forbid you ever talk to
one of them.

Of course, we do know that the visual system can do all sorts of things and
so there's lots you can model without worrying about it; you can treat it
as a perfectly competent black box. But someday when you, or someone,
wants to get sophisticated about the upper levels of the system (the ones I
don't believe in), you may have cause to regret this line of neglect. And
there's the odd coincidence that, when you look at the brain, sensory
tissue and motor tissue look much alike. Of course, memory chips in robot
controllers look much like memory chips in specialized video ram, so the
analogy is weak. But in the case of robot controllers and video ram we
know how those things work. Smart engineering undergraduates build such
things all the time (from chip design and fabrication on up). So it's no
big deal. We don't understand how the brain works. So don't you think the
strong similarity of sensory and motor tissue might have some lessons and
that if you see mid-scale circuit configurations entirely within sensory
tissue which are like those within motor tissue that you might think about
it? And if you are interpreting the motor circuits as servo-loops maybe you
could get somewhere by doing the same for the similar visual circuits?

(vision) and motoric output.", "I want a model where the inputs and outputs
are sensory") suggest that your understanding of PCT is _way_ different than
mine.

Holly molly. And here I thought I was suggesting a new arena where you (or
someone) can apply PCT. It's one thing for you to object when I tell you
something like an existing PCT account doesn't float. I may think your
objection is wrong, but I understand it. I tend to be like that myself.
Who? me wrong? You gotta' be kidding. But to be antsy over the possibility
of going boldly into new territory, shesh!

can show me what you mean by, say, "a model where the inputs and outputs are
sensory" using with a computer program, an experiment or some other kind of
demonstration (such as the on-line Test for the Controlled Variable that I
did with Bruce A.) it would be a great help to me.

Well, I did give you a paragraph from an article about real honest-to-god
telescopes that sorta do what interests me. Except that you have to
reinterpret that system in a deeply odd way, making a means (pattern of
mirror deformation) into the end and the end (imaging the stars) into a
means. So it's a stretch. I can do a little more to make the idea
intelligible. But not right this minute. Gotta go.

ยทยทยท

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