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UCD-STAFFORDBEER  January 2008

UCD-STAFFORDBEER January 2008

Subject:

Re: accidents

From:

Nick Green <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 19:04:36 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (198 lines)

Levels are characterised by their relaxation or response times. And re 
turbulence wouldn't this show up as variations in air pressure?
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Arthur Dijkstra" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 4:26 PM
Subject: Re: accidents


> Roger,
> You hit the nail on its head.
> Without interaction I make level jumps without realising. Consistent use 
> of
> levels is required.
> How do I know I confuse levels ? What questions should I ask myself to
> calibrate my level consistency ?
>
> Thanks
> Arthur
>
> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Namens Roger Harnden
> Verzonden: 22 January 2008 17:14
> Aan: [log in to unmask]
> Onderwerp: Re: accidents
>
> Arthur, thanks. I was worried that my views might disorientate.
>
> As you say - there is a meta-level, and I feel it is valuable if you
> find you can express it. Within that 'meta level' you describe
> concrete methodologies. Don't confuse the two levels.
>
> Best wishes,
>
> Roger
> On 22 Jan 2008, at 15:38, Arthur Dijkstra wrote:
>
>> Roger,
>> Thanks for your message. Indeed it conveys a message and lesson, it
>> gives a
>> wider context for my modelling ideas. 2nd order cybernetics and
>> subjectivity
>> give a broader view and does not simplify my problem space. It makes
>> me
>> realise I have to cut down on perspectives, simplify, to workout a
>> practical
>> method. In the end I have and want to deliver a proposal for a Safety
>> Management System design for my PhD.
>> I really appreciate your perspective and hope you stay engaged and
>> support
>> the design of a more 'intelligent' safety management.
>>
>> Arthur
>>
>> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
>> Van: Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Namens Roger Harnden
>> Verzonden: 22 January 2008 14:48
>> Aan: [log in to unmask]
>> Onderwerp: accidents
>>
>> Though prompted by the 'System Failure' thread, I have deliberately
>> taken these thoughts out of that thread, because they might interfere
>> with the productive flow of that stream of consciousness, which, it
>> appears to me is flourishing nicely.
>>
>> However, reading that thread, prompted some thoughts of my own,
>> somewhat at a tangent to Arthur's real-life problem.
>>
>> The response of everyone has ]been fascinating and mostly to the
>> point. and I hope it's useful, Arthur.
>>
>> But I can't help myself with this possible red-herring (incidentally,
>> in no way a criticism of Stuart and others). And, I suppose, my point
>> concerns the insight or vision or awareness or ethics of the
>> practitioner, rather than on components or techniques for tackling the
>> technical problem. Hence, Arthur, you might feel this irrelevant, but
>> I hope that in one form or another it is useful for your own insight.
>>
>> We call something 'an accident' when, from the vantage of our
>> perspective/point of view, a homeostat is perceived to break
>> down.....However, we have to keep in mind that the world is not full
>> of homeostats, as Ashby (and Stafford) were well aware. As
>> Wittgenstein - and Maturana - said, the world is as it is. In our
>> ongoing interactions (and, consonant with the 'expansion of Bucky
>> Fuller's Universe) we may or may not capture, analyse and describe
>> things in this or that way. The usefulness and insightfulness to each
>> of us as living human beings and actors in our social and personal
>> life is all.
>>
>> However, in the final analysis it is the observer and intentionality
>> that distinguishes and identifies something (e.g. in terms of a
>> homeostat),  assigning the label accident, failure, continuation,
>> transition or whatever.
>>
>> When the gazelle  breaks its leg in flight and the leopard finally
>> secures its grip on its meal, there isn't any system failure, except
>> from the individual who believes that life is about leopards NOT
>> EATING gazelles. From the ecological vantage there is simply the
>> SYSTEM that includes leopards trying to catch gazelles, and gazelles
>> trying to prolong their life as long as they can.
>>
>> Now, we can intervene in that ecological system (as, surely, does air
>> traffic), and cast a vote for either the leopard or the gazelle under
>> some new metric. And that's the system you are surely talking about.
>>
>> Your reference to Decision and Control is interesting, Arthur, as are
>> your ongoing thoughts, and none of what I am saying goes against
>> practical suggestions such as Stuart's..... What cybernetics (and
>> other findings/insights)
>> have demonstrated, is the dance between the intentionality of the
>> observer (human) and the non-intentional. That dance IS the unique
>> thing about human experience, understanding, cognition and CONTROL.
>> And, in a 'hard' (in the sense of man-made or technical) system such
>> as the one you are tackling (as distinct from the natural system I
>> described above), historically we are moving towards an increased
>> consciousness of the impact of our unthought actions (ie intentions)
>> on non-intentional systems. And - as Varela, Von Foerster, and indeed
>> Stafford - were well aware - this involves an ETHICS. It is to do
>> with, as von Foerster put it, the coexistence of others, or as
>> Maturana might say, a recurrence of coordination of actions.
>>
>> In other words, the application of cybernetics involves all the things
>> that you and the others are mentioning, but rather than seeing this as
>> in the interests of perfecting a system 'out there', it might valuably
>> be understood as in the interests of HONING such a system within a
>> broader and wider horizon of significance (personal, social and
>> natural).
>>
>> What Stafford was describing in Decision and Control all those years
>> ago, was the 'hard' but at the time revolutionary emerging discipline
>> of Operational Research and its statistical techniques - all of which
>> might indeed be relevant to your challenge. These involved taking a
>> multi perspective and multi disciplinary approach to 'hard' problems
>> rather than treating them as atomic or in isolation. But it's surely
>> true to say, that though with no acknowledgement to cybernetics or
>> Operational Research, many of these lessons have been integrated into
>> contemporary wisdom of economics, engineering, social planning etc.
>>
>> Problems come when - a la invasion of Iraq by Blair and Bush - such
>> lessons are ignored and a challenge is treated in isolation from its
>> context (a context which, in the present case, included the millions
>> of Iraqi's who had no part of Saddam Hussein's regime). As with the
>> example of Stafford's steel mill, the consequences are dramatic and
>> self-evident. Though - interestingly - the said invasion AS an
>> invasion, was a manifest success. The issue - which has been
>> increasingly aired since the event - was that the invasion was not
>> treated as an INTERVENTION in the affairs of a country, a society, and
>> complex of communities. Cybernetics would not have made the invasion
>> more effective, but would have changed the approach to it from an
>> invasion in isolation, to an invasion as part of wider social,
>> economic, cultural and historical events.
>>
>> So, in summary - yes there are tools and the application of tools -
>> statistical methods and the like. A tool such as the VSM (and indeed
>> insights from the biology of cognition) helps the practitioner reflect
>> on and make decisions about the usefulness and applicability of
>> particular tools, whether those tools be 'cybernetic' or not. As such,
>> the VSM is used in a way similar to Checkland's 'Soft System
>> Thinking'. Indeed, I have no objection to it being used in the context
>> of an intervention by SSM.
>>
>> I realise, Arthur this might all be a distraction for you at this
>> point in time. But hope it conveys something useful,
>>
>> Roger
>>
>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:
>> www.platformforchange.org
>>
>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:
> www.platformforchange.org
>>
>
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:
> www.platformforchange.org
>
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: 
> www.platformforchange.org
>
>
>
> -- 
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.5.516 / Virus Database: 269.19.8/1235 - Release Date: 
> 21/01/2008 09:39
>
> 

For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org

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