W.T. Powers and his deserved place in history of Cybernetics and Psychology

Intention of this topic is that Bill Powers work would be more recognizable in World Community.

The other day me and Bruce Nevin somehow agreed that we came to the same conclusion about how organisms basically function through “control unit organization”.(CUO) of organisms functioning. Through separate methods of thought experimenting (constructs) we came to the hypothetic conclusions about organisms being organized through functioning of net of control units, which are synhronised through Control of perception (input from sensors to central units).

That was originaly Bill Powers idea which he didn’t finnish. But his trial is by my oppinion historical as I will prove in time that he was right. I confirmed that partly in my presentation on Cybernetics Society that atomizing organism into bilions of control units which are organized into different neuron circuts and microcircuits and microcircuits … like some kind of “recursive” organization which forms general Control Units Organization of the Living Control Systems has strong scientific support. I called theory as DBCS (Dynemic Biological Control Systems). Dynamic stands for Ashby, biological for Maturana and Control Systems for Powers.

In my presentation I integrated knowledge of greatest Cyberneticians and mostly knowledge from physiology and neurophysiology.

Bruce Nevin came to that conclussion through his subjective experiences and partial integrative analysis of control units (IAPCT meeting 2021) which show clear Control Units Organization or in his words : he connected inputs and outputs in diagram which is quite similar to my diagram where I integrated knowledge from mentioned Cyberneticians and other scientific sources. It seems incredible emergence of intuition and scientific thinking. I never came with anybody (even with Bill Powers) so close to ral nature of organisms functioning although Bill Powers in his book LCS III clearly gave wide introduction to Mutlidimensional synchronization of cotrol units. I think that his work should be continued.

All in all we can conclude that Living Control Systems are conglomerat of control units which localy and general tend to homeostatic conditions in Living matter starting with “net of moleculs” as Maturana would say through RNA and DNA and microorganisms (virusses, bacteria etc.) to multi-complex organisms as human being is.

The basis for such methodology of understanding Living beings was with no doubt founded by W.T. Powers although he didn’t finnish his idea. It still waits for appropriate end.

But the “fact” is that such a “control unit” scientific thinking is the top idea in Cybernetics approach to “Control and Communication in animals and machines” (Wiener, 1960). So it represents in this moment by my oppinion the highest possible Cybernetics understanding how Living Systems function. And I think that idea represent the highest possible understanding how research of Living beings should be accomplished.

I also think that Bill Powers more than deserve that all PCT members give their part in efforts that World would see this deep insight into future development of such scientific thinking. I’m quite sure that perceptual control functioning of control units will greatly improve scientific and technological advancement in creating condtition for Life on Earth and Universe.

The implication of PCT has been also introduced into psychology. By Powers words he started with articles in 1957. In our personal conversation he convinced me that he was the first to introduce control theory into psychology. I manage to confirm that through conversation with psychologists Carver, Scheier, and Baumeister. At the end of conversation it seemed that somehow we came to agreement that Powers was the first to introduce control theory into psychology because mentioned psycholigist went out pf arguments who could be the first.

My oppinion is that beside other activities (Wiki, Powers books ets.) it would be good to present PCT on Cybernetics and Psycholigical meetings and discussions and other forms of informing public about Powers work, something like I did on Cybernetics Society. I’ll continue to attend CS and ASC meetings APA conferences etc and I’ll try to introduce Powers ideas. But if PCT members will also try to do that I suggest that we form some common understanding of PCT. There are too many versions.

All the best to all,


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I’d like to add some thought to support my proposal for scientific reasons for promotoing Powers into the history of Cybernetics and Psychology which appeared in conversation to Bruce Nevin. As it seems that Bruce Nevin is manipulating with conversations because he can, I’m forced to find other ways to balance discussion about how organisms function and deserved place of Bill Powers in history.

Bruce Nevins partial analysis of control system on IAPCT meeting 2021 has to be put into much wider main frame of control unit functioning of organism to become usefull.

But in this moment sorry that I can’t comment yet specific cases of “Control unit analyses” becasue I have to present the whole functioning of organism from genetic control system to top of the hierarchy, which will be quite different from Bills imagined diagram in B:CP, 2005, p. 191.

From my diagram on the end of presentation on Cybernetics Society that is much more comprehensive in respect to control areas which work synhronously in organism, we can see results from knowledge of mentioned Cyberneticians and scientific findings. The main principle of control organization are :

  1. Organisms function as a whole (part to part), what was quite good presented by Ashby and physiological findings fully support

  2. Organisms function as a closed system what was presented by Maturanaand supported by experiemnts. He showed that also through evolution perspective. All in all closed loop functiong of organism removes “question mark” on the top of the hierarchy Bill had presented in his diagram p.191 (B:CP, 2005).

  3. Organisms functioning on the principles of connections between genetic pattern and ultrastability was presented by Ashby and Bill tried to integrate main principles in his original diagram (B:CP, 2005, p.191) through genetic source but without control connection to intrinsic variables which are levitating in “nothing” connected through disturbances from external environment (input) and genetic source (output). In this way Bill showed in diagram that external output (behavior) and disturbances are the only source of keeping homeostatic conditions in organism and of course in hierarchy. But they both made a mistake and didn’t close system inside, so they contradicted Maturana’s biological experiments and basic physiological “facts”. Suplemented diagram from p. 191 (B:CP, 2005) with “arrows” from genetic source to intrinsic variables under my influence was published by Dug after Bills death.

  4. Organisms functioning on the bases of physiological and neurophysiological principles show that organism functions as integrated whole and closed system, with thousands of control functions that help maintain constant conditions in the organism.

Bruce Nevins analyses includes only partial control structures in organism so it’s not included in the whole analyses of the organism what is basic condition if you want to understand clearly what is happening in organisms whole control while keeping homeostatic conditions.

Brainstem is interesting structure in the whole control hierarchy considering mostly negative and some positive control loops through higher and lower levels. Here I think it’s necesary to understand some kind of “somatotopy” where output signals will reach the areas where input signals originate thus closing complex loops. Even more complex loops are closing functioning of lower and the highest levels of nervous system.

Direct connections between specific sensory and motor neurons are usually called “reflexes”. Direct connections usually do not involve any “intermediate” neurons or any other control structures of control units as are present in more complex relations through numerous “macro- and micro-circuits” on higher levels of central nervous system.

Brainstem is quite clear anatomical structure and thus quite well researched. Bio-electrical signals produced by different control areas inside brainstem, can be quite well traced through “inputs and outputs”.

Limbic subsytem is much more complex control structure and is quite imperfectly defined as anatomical structure as it includes many anatomical structures. So usually is in physiological literature refered as functional structure (that’s also how I called it) with many control functions which are combined through different anatomical structures and were functionally changing place through history probably along with understanding of nervous system. So it was not clear which anatomical functions perform certain anatomical control structures.

So Limbic subsystem as much more complex control structure is not so well defined in research work but it can be researched also in your way using control unit organization and tested through TCV or some experiments. Even more problems are with highest control structures in Telencephalon which has also direct control loop connections with brainstem.

Perceptual signals from outside as were presented by Bruce as example are including into internal functioning of organism.

I’ll try to explain whole functioning of orgamism in my next presentation as much as time will be availlable, John president of CS is very precise about the time availabel for presentation. So I’ll have to make quite precise “parcel” of informations which will present control functiong from genetic source to wherever I’ll manage to come in presentating some logical whole.

It’s not easy to deal with such a complex structure as nervous system is. But control unit idea as was presented by Bill was an alleviation for me.

And it seems also, that such a “control unit analyses” (CUA) makes possible to see more clear control structures involved in explaining your problem.

But as I wrote before. Hard times await us, first to convince PCT community and then wider public that LCS III is the basics for multidimensional analysis of control units and Bill Powers place in history of Cybernetics has to be assured.

So one of the most important task will be persuading people that Bill Powers was right about analysing control unit organization through synchonization of their functioning. That’s also the point of placing Bill Powers into history of Cybernetics. Simply I don’t see any better method for analyzing complex Living sysems and research work that could advance for decades “paralysed” advancement in Cybernetics.

I hope at least in minimum this is how I saw your explanation. The rest of my explanation will come through time.

You can see at the end of my presentation diagram with “complex control unit organization” (CCUO) that has removed “question mark” from top of the PCT hierarchy. It was not such an easy task. It concerns the whole functioning of organism on the bases of main principles I mentioned above.

Any “Complex Control Unit Analyses” (CCUA) like yours will demand considering the whole control functioning of organism as any control structure contribute to the whole negative feedback control and any structure benefit from it. If there are any positive feedback loops they are “traped” into negative control loops as the final result has to be returning to the “same state” if organism is to survive.

So my oppinion is that your partial control structural analysis has to be part of the whole control functioning of organism to be seen whether is right or wrong and what kind of control loops are involved. There can be also “feedforward” signals which are part of complex feedback loops as I presented in diagram in the beggining of presentation.