VS: Behavior is Control (was RE: Mad idea?)

[Eetu Pikkarainen 2017-06-07]

Hi all,

Rick, Richard and I have noted about the problems (different ways to understand) of the concept of “behavior�.

However, I think it is not the core point of “endless confusion�, but rather the most central concept of “control�, which is used in a fuzzy every day meaning. In everyday speech (I
think as non-English speaker, but inferring from the use of the respective word “kontrolli� in Finnish) control is a synonym to adjust, affect, alter, keep in place, restrict, surveillance etc. (And it is many of these meanings which have caused the repulsive
aura for the concept.)

In strict and technical use the definition of control – if I have understoood it right – is something like: “causingg the value (measure) of some variable towards some reference value
and keeping it near it�.

The problem with the many every day meanings of “control� is that there is no reference value. Any variable has always some value but that does not mean that it is controlled. Similarly
adjusting or changing the value to some other value is not controlling, it is affecting. Neither the keeping of the value to some level is not controlling but stabilizing. Only if there were a the (prior, a priori) reference value towards what the affected
value is changed or near what it is kept only then this happening would be a case of the concept of control.

Let’s have a simple example. I am playing music through an amplifier which has a volume knob. I affect changes to the volume level by turning the knob – and I affect the turn of the
knob by ussing my finger muscles. Now if I have in my mind (or in a dB meter) a reference level for the music volume then I control the volume by affecting my fingers and by them the turning of the knob. Her I do not control my fingers or the knob – it is absolutely
insignificcant to me how they change if only the music level becomes just right. But if I have in my mind (or in paper note) a reference value to the knob, say 7, then I control the knob position by affecting my fingers and I affect and stabilize the music
to some level by controlling the knob. But in a similar way also here I have no reference values foe fingers or music volume.

An now we must forget that example, because there are no reference values in the environment – aand we have no reference values for the variables in the environment. We have only reference
values for the perceptual signals. That is why only perceptions (actually perceptual signals) are and can be controlled – accordiing to PCT if I have understood it at all. Everything else than the perceptual signal is affected, adjusted, changed, kept, stabilized
or something else but not controlled. But the perception is controlled BY affecting, adjusting etc. those other parts of the control loop.

I do not want to change our everyday speech, but I hope that in so important theory as PCT, the theoretical speech could be strict and coherent – at lleast with the most central concepts.

···

Eetu

Please, regard all my statements as questions,

no matter how they are formulated.

Lähettäjä: Warren Mansell [mailto:wmansell@gmail.com]
Lähetetty: 7. kesäkuutata 2017 9:25
Vastaanottaja: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Aihe: Re: Behavior is Control (was RE: Mad idea?)

Hi Rick, that is a great answer. I think we can often get into tangles when we try to reapply our PCT operational definitions of everyday terms, like ‘control’ and ‘Behavior’ back into everyday language. It is almost as though we should
be explicit every time we use either ‘version’ in our explanations. Or maybe that we always use a technical term within the PCT model rather than the everyday term when we mean the PCT definition?

Warren

On 6 Jun 2017, at 20:25, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2017.06.06.1225)]

Fred Nickols (2017.06.05.1347 ET)

FN: Boris: I have a question for you regarding “behavior is control.�

FN: I know you regularly take issue with Rick asserting that behavior is control but I wonder if you would
agree with this statement: “Our behavior serves to control our perceptions.�

RM: I think the problem here is with the word “behavior”. In PCT, “behavior” means what it does in common parlance: what we see people doing. In one of his papers Powers says that
when he talks about “behavior” he is referring to the things people do to which we give names (because we see them done over and over again). Some examples of behavior are “lifting a finger”, “writing an email”, “tying shoelaces”, “playing Go”, “voting”, etc.
In PCT, all behavior (except a muscle twitch or a glandular secretion) is both action and a controlled result of action. For example, what we see as “writing an email” consists of the actions (finger movements) used produce the email and the resulting
email itself (the controlled result of those actions).

RM: When you say "Our behavior serves to control our perceptionsâ€? you are using the term “behavior” to refer only to the actions that produce a result, the result being a perception
from the point of view of the person producing it. That is, you are privileging the “action” view a behavior over the “result” view. For example, take the behavior of “tying shoelaces”. You can say that this “behavior” consists of the actions (movements)
that result in the tied laces; but you could also say that this behavior consists of the tied laces that result from these movements.

RM: Saying that “behavior is control” simply calls attention to the fact what we call “behaviors” are both actions and results; in PCT lingo, behaviors are both
outputs and the variables controlled by those outputs – controlled variables . So the behavior called “tying shoelaces” points to a control process where the controlled variable is the state of the laces, the reference state of this variable is
“tied” and the outputs that produce this result are the hand movements the get the laces tied. Moreover, what we see as the output component of a behavior are typically controlled variables themselves and what we see as the controlled variable component of
behavior is typically an output itself. For example, the movements (outputs) used to produce the reference state of a controlled variable (tied laces) are themselves a controlled variable; their speed and direction are the controlled result of muscle forces.
And the tied laces (the controlled variable) that result from those outputs (movements) are themselves outputs that are the means of controlling another variable, the “onness” of the shoes.

RM: So “control” is just a more precise definition of the informal term “behavior”. “Control” refers to the observation of a variable being maintained in a reference state, protected
from disturbance. And this is what we can see is what is going on with the things we call “behaviors”. “Tying shoelaces”, for example, refers to the observation that a variable (the state of the laces) is maintained in a reference state (consistently brought
to the state “tied”) protected from disturbance (the different initial state of the laces, variations in the forces the affect the laces, etc). When you are able to see behavior – any named behavior – as being both output that affects the state of a controlled
variable and a controlled variable itself – you have learned to see behavior through control theory glasses. By the way, this is all discussed in the first 2 chapters of “Controlling People”.

RM: Bill called his book “Behavior” The control of perception" because psychologists are familiar with the term behavior; it is what psychologists study. But the first thing Bill
talks about in B:CP (as we do in “Controlling People”) is the fact that behavior
is control. So Bill could have called the book “Control: The Control of Perception”,describing the fact that what is in the book is a theoy (control of perception) that accounts for the controlling we see as behavior. But that would have been rather
confusing to people who didn’t already know that behavior is control. So I think the actual title of the book, “Behavior: The control of perception”, is perfect as is. And I especially like Martin’s way of reading it (since it’s the same way I read it):

MT: A colon is sometimes used in English where one might use “is”, often in a title, for emphasis. So I read that title as saying quite directly that “Behaviour is control” (of perception,
of course).

Best

Rick

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

[Eetu Pikkarainen 2017-06-09]

···

EP: In strict and technical use the definition of control – if I have understood it right – is somethinging like: “causing the value (measure) of some variable towards
some reference value and keeping it near it�.

RM: That’s good. Though I think it’s good to add “protected from disturbance” in order to be explicit about why “keeping it there” is an important part of the definition of control. It distinguishes “control”
from “cause”. For example, a magnet causes the position of iron filings to move towards some reference value (the position of the magnet) and keeps it near it, but the magnet doesn’t control this variable, as is easily demonstrated by disturbing the iron filings
by pushing them away from the magnet. If the position of the filings were controlled the pushing would have been resisted and, thus, the position of the filings would be protected from that disturbance.

EP: Are you serious? That is quite Aristotelian view! A stone has a reference value to lay on the ground and a cloud has a reference value to hang in the sky? A magnet has a reference value
even for other objects namely the iron filings? No, there are no reference values and thus no control in inanimate (and non-engineered) nature. To cause just something (something causes an object to fall down or rise up or come near) does not mean that there
were a reference value.

EP: The resistance against disturbances is crucially important thing. It is namely the main sign that there could be control. It is important to understand and so it must me mentioned in all
introductions. I thought “keeping it thereâ€? as active keeping, from which resisting the disturbances would entail but because “keepâ€? can also be understood in an inanimate way, that is not enough. But I would not use the term: protection, because first it
is too strong: it sounds like it keeps the disturbances away, so that they do not disturb. Secondly it can be also passive protection: if the magnet is strong enough and the available disturbances are too weak then the position of the iron filings near the
magnet is protected from disturbances. I think that the right concept is “active resistanceâ€? (means that it changes depending on the disturbances).

EP: I do not want to change our everyday speech, but I hope that in so important theory as PCT, the theoretical speech could be strict and coherent – at least
with the most central concepts.

RM: Yes, and I think that it’s not only important to talk about things precisely but also to understand the phenomena to which the talk points.

And it is, indeed, particularly important to get the technical meaning of “control” right in discussions of PCT since control (as it is seen in the behavior of living organisms) is the phenomenon that the theory explains. And I think the best way to
get an understanding of what control is to do the demonstrations of the phenomenon of control that have been developed by Powers (http://www.pct-labs.com) and myself (http://mindreadings.com/demos.htm).

EP: Hmm, I am sorry but I have a bit feeling that after I had understood the first demo then the nest ones did not offer very much. Except of course higher level demos like Powers’ hand.

Best Regards

Eetu

Please, regard all my statements as questions,

no matter how they are formulated.

Best

Rick

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

[Eetu Pikkarainen 2017-06-09]

···
                    EP: In strict and technical use the

definition of control – if I have understoood it
right – is something like: “causingg the value
(measure) of some variable towards some
reference value and keeping it near it�.

Â

              RM:

That’s good. Though I think it’s good to add
“protected from disturbance” in order to be explicit
about why “keeping it there” is an important part of
the definition of control. It distinguishes “control”
from “cause”. For example, a magnet causes the
position of iron filings to move towards some
reference value (the position of the magnet) and keeps
it near it, but the magnet doesn’t control this
variable, as is easily demonstrated by disturbing the
iron filings by pushing them away from the magnet. If
the position of the filings were controlled the
pushing would have been resisted and, thus, the
position of the filings would be protected from that
disturbance.

EP: Are you serious?