Where Ashby went wrong

The purpose of this topic is to elevate this 2009 CSGnet post by Bill Powers to a place of prominence in Discourse for reference.

In 2009, Bill Powers posted “What happened to cybernetics?” to CSGnet. In it, he briefly shows where Ashby went wrong, setting the wrong course for cybernetics and for engineering control theory.

See also the brief post “Ashby and Control Theory” substantiating that Ashby did not understand control.

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Great plan!

I think engineeering control theory has always been on the right course – towards building better and better artificial (human engineered) control systems. Bill showed that it was the application of engineering control theory to understanding the the behavior of living control systems that took the wrong course. My chapter in the first Handbook of Perceptual Control Theory explains why that might have happened.

I think that is true. But it is also true that understanding PCT can improve the design of artificial control systems, as we have seen with Henry, Rupert and Adam’s work on robot design.

4 posts were split to a new topic: Boston Dynamics and PCT