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UCD-STAFFORDBEER  March 2010

UCD-STAFFORDBEER March 2010

Subject:

Re: autopoiesis and information flows

From:

Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 19 Mar 2010 13:53:38 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (458 lines)

Yes, Doug.

A very good, clear example of the over complex ways I say it.

Roger
On 19 Mar 2010, at 12:54, Doug McDavid wrote:

> The point that Humberto uses that makes this vivid for me is: consider
> the hallucination.  The nervous system produces actionable images and
> sensations, which, when acted upon, may cause puzzlement on the part
> of external observers (different sense of "observer") because the
> actions are apparently not related to external stimuli.  This example
> helps me separate the closed nervous system from the open dissipative
> system that interacts with the external world.
>
> On Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 3:34 AM, Roger Harnden  
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Sorry, I meant add an important point.
>> IN terms of structural coupling and organisational closure, there  
>> are no
>> 'instructive' interactions as far as the brain is concerned (this  
>> does not
>> of course say that this is the same for the mind. We are talking
>> biologically about the brain). And this bears on the initial point  
>> triggered
>> by RogerD on information. The dynamics of the brain can be  
>> 'triggered' or
>> 'disturbed' but not 'instructed'. There is no one-to-one  
>> correspondence
>> between anything outside the nervous system and anything inside it.  
>> Inside
>> there are no singularities.
>> It's exactly the same as the mechanism described by William Powers  
>> in his
>> control theory.
>> Information is then something inferred, and anaguage is implicative
>> connotative NOT denotative. It is from the consequences of our our
>> behaviours that we connote denotation (Powers).
>> Roger
>> On 19 Mar 2010, at 11:22, Roger Harnden wrote:
>>
>> Yes - this is a fascinating example of the connection (or clash) of  
>> two
>> paradigms.
>> The biology of cognition (Maturana's work as developed from the  
>> discoveries
>> as to brain dynamics of Warren McCulloch and on human behaviour and  
>> social
>> interaction of Gregory Bateson), focused ion the question of HOW an
>> otherwise organisationally closed system (such as - in  
>> physiological terms -
>> is the brain) enables all the higher functions and behavioural  
>> variety of
>> life, to take place.
>> In other words, it starts from the insight into brain dynamics and
>> organisational closure, rather than from the study of external or
>> behavioural factors. And, given such a premise, one has to explain  
>> how the
>> organism in which the brain is embodied functions effectively, and  
>> how all
>> higher functions emerge. To answer this, Maturana and Varela  
>> developed the
>> notion of 'structural coupling', in terms of which the internal  
>> dynamics of
>> the nervous system striving towards its own internal coherences  
>> becomes
>> critical, rather than any notion that effective action emerges from  
>> accurate
>> representation of external happenings. Such people as Maturana and  
>> the whole
>> thrust of the move towards artificial life given the relative  
>> failures of
>> AI, confirm the limitations of the paradigm of representation. in  
>> generating
>> meaning.
>>  Roger
>> On 19 Mar 2010, at 10:59, russell_c wrote:
>>
>> I read it this way.
>>
>> Maturana claims the nervous system is closed -- i.e. Information  
>> does not
>> pass through it from the outside in a processing cycle (input/ 
>> output).
>> Rather external events trigger changes in the nervous system. We  
>> experience
>> these nervous system events which are nudged (that is my term) by  
>> outside
>> forces. Our experience is therefore not 1st hand direct of the real  
>> external
>> world but rather derived from our nervous system's reaction to these
>> stimulus events.
>>
>> He suggests a new epistemology is required -- i.e. as per the  
>> function of
>> 2nd order cybernetics mentioned in the paper by Tom Froese (2010)  
>> mentioned
>> recently by Roger H. (there being two Rogers!) I believe it  
>> involves an
>> "epistemological shift" that he credits Ashby with initiating (p.  
>> 79) .
>>
>> I take this to imply the observer is not a theoretical mental  
>> construct or
>> trick of the mind, but rather an actual living experiential fact  
>> related to
>> the effects of the external world on our nervous system.
>>
>> Leprosy removes the nervous system's effects on us as observers, as  
>> does
>> anesthetic at the dentist: so can hypnotism.
>>
>> [in referring to light falling on the retina] The external world  
>> can only
>> trigger such changes in the nervous system of an organism as are  
>> determined
>> by the structure of the nervous system itself. The consequence is  
>> that there
>> is no possible way, in principle, for the external world to  
>> communicate
>> itself in its primordial, true form to the nervous system. . . .
>>
>> [in abandoning the information processing model] Our approach changes
>> completely. We no longer accept descriptions of the nervous system  
>> as a
>> system that computes representations of an external world and  
>> processes
>> information coming in from outside, which then results in adequate  
>> behaviour
>> and appropriate reactions of the organism. The nervous system now  
>> appears as
>> a structure-determined system with its own specific mode of  
>> operation. Any
>> change in it is only triggered but neither determined nor specified
>> exclusively by the features and properties of the external world. It
>> computes nothing but its own transformations from state to state.  
>> People who
>> accept this insight must draw a strict conceptual distinction  
>> between the
>> operations taking place inside the nervous system and all the  
>> processes
>> occurring outside it. They must also be quite clear about the fact  
>> that
>> there is no inside and no outside for the nervous system but only a
>> perpetual dance of internal correlations in a closed network of  
>> interacting
>> elements; inside and outside exist for the observer but not for the  
>> system
>> itself. (Maturana in From Being to Doing, Poerksen 2004, pp. 61-62)
>>
>> My daily train ride to the 'hamster wheel' involves studying the
>> inter-carriage movements around bends etc and imagining that these  
>> are
>> segments of the nervous system (that I as the observer am inside  
>> of) and
>> that all information being experienced by the macro observer  
>> (customer) of
>> the nervous system (i.e. not me as a nano-me in this case) is in  
>> fact the
>> result of the continual changes in the segments on a full 360  
>> degree circle
>> -- and all these information corresponding to macro states and  
>> positions and
>> memories etc. I can get six carriages on an "S" bend in view (max  
>> number of
>> carriages) -- the nervous system must have zillions of these  
>> positional
>> references linked to what we call observer awareness. That's my  
>> simple daily
>> meditation take on it -- happy to be corrected.
>>
>> Hope this helps.
>> Russell
>>
>> On Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 6:32 PM, Stefan Wasilewski  
>> <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>>
>>> Dear Luc
>>> I think Trevor (and myself) would be thinking of that closed  
>>> system that
>>> is us because for a system to be autpoietic according to your  
>>> definition it
>>> would have to be inert from our perspective.
>>> Stefan
>>> On 19 Mar 2010, at 09:48, Luc Hoebeke wrote:
>>>
>>> Dear Trevor and Stefan,
>>> The number of disturbances which impinge on you during this trip  
>>> to the
>>> mail-box is infinite and not to be processed. Only what your  
>>> constructed
>>> perseptions select to be meaningful in that trajectory, only to  
>>> what you
>>> yourself makes sense of, gives meaning to, thanks to how your  
>>> distributed
>>> brain functions have worked out until now enables you to post the  
>>> letter in
>>> the box. Imagine that you give this assignment to someone who  
>>> never has
>>> experienced traffic and mailboxes: what risk he would take.  
>>> Because most of
>>> the disturbances impinging on his senses would be meaningless.
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Luc
>>>
>>> Op 19-mrt-10, om 10:22 heeft Trevor E Hilder het volgende  
>>> geschreven:
>>>
>>> Dear Stefan,
>>> I share your puzzlement. I am about to step outside my house, walk  
>>> about
>>> 50 metres down my road and cross a busy road to post a letter. I  
>>> can't
>>> understand how I could survive this experience if there is no  
>>> information
>>> exchange with my environment!
>>> On 18 Mar 2010, at 21:23, Stefan Wasilewski wrote:
>>>
>>> I don't see it that way and whether I'm short on concepts, miss  
>>> the point
>>> or maybe right I'll keep searching for an answer to your comments  
>>> below and
>>> why they jar me so.
>>> Perhaps I'll write down my thoughts and post them here for  
>>> criticism.
>>> On 18 Mar 2010, at 21:01, Luc Hoebeke wrote:
>>>
>>> Maturana firmly states: no information exchange. The concept of
>>> autopoiesis sees the autonomous system as being alive in a world of
>>> disturbances or noise. The system itself selects and gives meaning  
>>> to this
>>> noise. Some years ago I gave a talk at Lancaster University  
>>> elaborating on
>>> the concept of information as a surrogate of meaning. Hayles has  
>>> well
>>> documented the struggle in the Macey conferences about the  
>>> introduction or
>>> the rejection of the concept of meaning. Atlast, meaning was not
>>> quantifiable, and information could be put in the Shannon Weaver  
>>> formula.
>>> They said that they did not know what they were measuring, but as  
>>> it was
>>> measurable it could be useful. A bit like IQ.
>>> Think about a fish swimming in data and only making sense of what
>>> corresponds to what is meaningful for it. No information streams,  
>>> only data.
>>> Second order cybernetics can do without the concept of information.
>>>
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Luc
>>>
>>> Op 18-mrt-10, om 20:42 heeft Stefan Wasilewski het volgende  
>>> geschreven:
>>>
>>> Without reading the book I can't, but maybe she's got something  
>>> wrong or
>>> else in her mind.
>>> From my point of view it's wrong as no system can be isolated from  
>>> its
>>> context, autopoietic systems just becomes aware that 'it is' and  
>>> what it
>>> needs to stay that way. This firmly says it must be embedded  
>>> within a system
>>> and communicate whether the information is data, atoms or both.
>>> any help?
>>> On 18 Mar 2010, at 10:56, Roger Duck wrote:
>>>
>>> I am puzzling over the following from Katherine Hayles’ book (How we
>>> Became Posthuman):
>>>
>>> P10: “In a sense, autopoiesis turns the cybernetic paradigm inside  
>>> out.
>>> Its central premise – that systems are informationally closed –  
>>> radically
>>> alters the idea of the informational feedback loop, for the loop  
>>> no longer
>>> functions to connect a system to its environment. In the  
>>> autopoietic view,
>>> no information crosses the boundary separating the system from its
>>> environment.”
>>>
>>> Again: “no information crosses the boundary separating the system  
>>> from its
>>> environment.” This is a strong statement! Is it consistent with  
>>> the VSM
>>> view? I tend to think of the loops between S1 and the environment,  
>>> and even
>>> more so between S4 and the environment, as dealing with “finding  
>>> things out
>>> about what is going on out there”. And Stafford’s second and third
>>> principles of organisation mention “channels carrying information”.
>>>
>>> Anyone want to help me though this conceptual jungle?
>>>
>>> Roger D
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Roger Duck
>>> Mapsar Ltd
>>> Founding associate of the Unlike Minds capability network
>>>
>>> Mob:        +44 (0)7711 346 908
>>> Skype:      roger.duck
>>> E-mail:    [log in to unmask]
>>>
>>> Unlike Minds Ltd is registered in England and Wales under  
>>> registration
>>> number 06528775.
>>> The registered office address is Plodwell Farm, Cragg Vale, Hebden  
>>> Bridge,
>>> West Yorkshire, HX7 5TU
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>>> --
>>> Regards,
>>>  Trevor                            [log in to unmask]
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>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For  
>> more
>> information go to: www.metaphorum.org For the Metaphorum  
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>> Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org  
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>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at -
>> http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For  
>> more
>> information go to: www.metaphorum.org For the Metaphorum  
>> Collaborative
>> Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org  
>> METAPHORUM eList
>> Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at -
>> http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For  
>> more
>> information go to: www.metaphorum.org For the Metaphorum  
>> Collaborative
>> Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org  
>> METAPHORUM eList
>> Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at -
>> http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
>
>
> -- 
>
> Doug McDavid
> [log in to unmask]
> 916-549-4600
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org
>
> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>
> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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