Posts Tagged ‘Control theory’

Shall And Shall Not

July 7, 2012 1 comment

For a controlled system to remain viable and stable, Ashby’s law of requisite variety requires that the system controller(s) exhibit a wider variety of behavior than the system controllee(s). This can be accomplished by either the controller increasing its variety of responses to controllee disturbances, or by decreasing the variety of controllee disturbances relative to its own variety of control responses, or both.

In order to comply with Ashby’s law (in conjunction with several other natural laws – 2nd law of thermo, control theory, Turing’s infallible/intelligence thesis, etc), Bill Livingston asserts that membership in any institution requires the internalization, either consciously or (more likely) unconsciously, of the following set of “shall” and “shall not” rules:

As you can see, suppressing variety in the controllee population is the preferred method of a controller aiming to satisfy Ashby’s law. The alternative, increasing its own variety of response relative to controllee variety of disturbance, requires learning and development. By definition, infallible controllers don’t need to learn and develop. They stopped learning when they achieved the status of “infallible” – either by force or by illusion.

So, what do you think? Did Mr. Livingston hit the bullseye? Miss by a mile?

Your Operational Configuration

Which system configuration do you prefer? Which system configuration is most prevalent in nature? In the “civilized” world? What’s your operating configuration, and do you have just one?

The Ultimate External Controller

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Control theory postulates that in order to make effective goal-seeking decisions, one of the requirements imposed on an external controller, human or otherwise, is that it contain an accurate model of the “real” process to be controlled.

When an external controller’s process model matches the “real” process taking place, effective control may be, but isn’t guaranteed to be, achieved. When there’s a mismatch, all hope is lost.

The ultimate external controller is no external controller. It’s intimately integrated within, and distributed across, the process itself.

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