Archives

All posts for the month January, 2002

Science, Values, and the Nature of the Human Person. May 2001.
Paper by Henry Stapp of Berkeley Physics Labs
Stapp much quoted by Josephson.
As Nobel Laureate Steve Weinberg said recently: “The more the
universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.”
Stapp “… intensive study of the properties
of matter has revealed fundamental flaws in our earlier
understanding of the basic nature of the physical universe
and our role in it, and this deeper understanding impacts
strongly on human concerns.”

Part I: The Physics of Consciousness (ala Bohr/von Neumann).

MIND
Mind plays a basic role in orthodox (Bohr/vonNeumann) QT:
The theory is about the mathematical structure of
connections between human actions and experiences.

MATTER
The stuff of the physical universe is partly mind like:
the physical universe is a CLOUD of possible classical
universes, and the shape of this cloud represents information. [WOW !!]

FREEDOM
There are TWO KINDS of “free” choices:
NATURE’S “free” choices are subject to statistical laws.
HUMAN “free” choices are subject to no KNOWN laws.

WILL
Human “free” choices are EFFICACIOUS:
[Ian - efficacious - having the power to produce intended effect !!!!!]
they can strongly influence brain activity.
[Ian - query this clause ??]

NONLOCALITY
Human “free” choices have “instantaneous” effects far away:
we are “nonlocally entangled” with rest of nature.

Part II: Moral Impact.

Science has shown the materialist conception of nature to be false.
By validating free will it has rescued “Personal responsibility”.
It has also resuscitated “Objective truth”.
And it has made our minds into efficacious aspects of the highly nonlocal process
that creates the growing informational structure that is the physical universe.

Beyond Quantum Theory -
“A realist psycho-biological interpretation of physical reality” by Conrad, Home & Josephson, (1988) quoting Stapp “the phenomenon of state vector collapse in the domain of quantum mechanics can equally be viewed as a phenomenon in the field of mind, namely a decision process”.
Revisited 2001 by Josephson

…. the idea from eastern philosophy that in certain states of consciousness the subjective states of mind, irrespective of learning, closely reflect objective reality ….

…. the parallel between quantum and biological views is not that the former underlies the latter on a human scale, but that both are in fact manifestations of some other underlying physics.

Biological Utilisation of Quantum NonLocality by Josephson and Pallikari-Viras (1991) Quote “The perception of reality by biosystems is based on different, and in certain respects more effective principles than those utilised by the more formal procedures of science. As a result, what appears as random pattern to the scientific method can be meaningful pattern to a living organism.” Quote “the knowledge possessed by biosystems and the knowledge possessed by science are qualitatively different.” Quote ” [Where] observed indeterminacy is a consequence of uncertainty of the actual state of a system whose …… laws in themselves are completely deterministic …. The strategy of science leads towards the accurate specification of form, while that of life leads in the direction of meaning. ……. Meaning is an aspect of reality tied to the achievement of goals and to specific context that is sufficiently subtle and complex as not to be representable by any closed formula. Furthermore, the technique of statistical averaging is especially irrelevant in the context of meaning, since its influence in general is to transform the meaningful into the meaningless. It is not useful to consider the meaning of a particular word averaged over all languages, and computing the statistics of word order and frequency in a discourse tells one very little about the meaning of the discourse.”
Interesting, but not everyone would agree with the last statement ?
(Heylighen for instance.)

Thinking Around Corners – Another thoughtful blog
A variation on thinking out of the box.
Quote “Once the mind has been stretched by a new idea,
it can never again regain it’s former shape.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Synergetics
as in the geometry of patterns of energy in nature
after Buckminster Fuller (yes as in Buckie Balls !)
covers fundamental / metaphysical world-view
Web resource maintained by Robert W Gray

Synergetics
as in a model of master system driving many slave systems.
quoted by Brian Josephson plus reference to Bob Ulanovicz No resources yet found.
[Update - Found via Haken reference - Plenty of material out there on Synergetics and complex systems involving human brains. Also tracked down Bob Ulanowicz - spelling variant I hadn't tried.]

EPISTLE Generic Model – Metaphysical / Philosophical references.
“The study of the nature of things is likely to be relevant to Integrating data models and data sets from different sources.”
from Metaphysics – an Anthology – Blackwell, ISBN: 0-631-20279
Refs include : Quine, Russell, Lewis, Armstrong, Wittgenstein, Frege, Cantor, Peirce.
The classical / rational /objective stuff.

Many Worlds / Parallel Universes Guru – Dr David Deutsch
Deutsch shares Josephsons conviction that quantum physics is at the heart of processing and communication of information, but famously created a stir when rubbishing Josephsons suggestion that there was anything credible in paranormal phenomena like ESP that might ultimately be explained by quantum physics or even any existence that merited serious scientific analysis at all.
Quote “Dr Deutsch is well-known in the physics community for his work on parallel universes and time travel. Indeed, he is referred to as a “time-travel expert” in Prof Davies’s new book – which as a job-title is arguably right up there with ghostbuster.” LOL
and …
“Certainly, if Planck had faced the kind of political correctness promulgated by some scientists today, quantum theory might well have been strangled in its cot.” Unquote.
Quotes from Robert Matthews in the Daily Telegraph November 4th 2001

Quantum Computing (See also BCS Cybernetics Group)
Partly concerned with processing at the quantum level – which seems to have little relevance to real world business scale issues until such time as new processing devices emerge, BUT more importantly in the context of this web log …
“It can support entirely new modes of computation, with new quantum algorithms that do not have classical analogues. And more: the quantum theory of computation plays an even more fundamental role in the scheme of things than its classical predecessor did, so that anyone who seeks a fundamental understanding of either physics or information processing must incorporate its new insights into their world view.” from Quantum Computation – A new way of harnessing nature, by David Deutsch and Artur Ekert from the March 1998 issue of Physics World. Copy held at the “Qubit” / Centre for Quantum Computing web site.

Communication of intent
A variation on send three and fourpence ….
Seen pinned to many an office screen.
This copy lifted from David Stern’s Genesis project site
Quote
How Shit Happens
In the Beginning was The Plan
And then came the Assumptions
And the Assumptions were without form
And the Plan was completely without substance
And the darkness was upon the face of the Workers
And the Workers spoke amongst themselves, saying
“It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh.”
And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and sayeth,
“It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof.”
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers and sayeth unto them,
“It is a container of excrement and it is very strong,
such that none may abide by it.”
And the Managers went unto their Directors and sayeth,
“It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength.”
And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying one to another,
“It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong.”
And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents and sayeth unto them,
“It promotes growth and is very powerful.”
And the Vice Presidents went unto the President and sayeth unto him,
“This new Plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this
Company, and in these Areas in particular.”
And the President looked upon The Plan,
And saw that it was good, and The Plan became Policy.
And this is How Shit Happens.
Unquote

Also, I have myself often quoted John Z DeLorean
from “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors”
Quote
Committees of moral [competent] men [& women]
often make immoral [incompetent] decsions

Unquote

Group interpretation is quite different to individual intent.
Also incorporates aspects of conspiracy vs cock-up experience.

And another anecdotal subject.
The “No accident has a single cause” idea
Popular thinking (usually around “disasters”) is to find fault – something to fix (if not blame).
“Double-jeopardy” was often claimed against system failure possibilities, before more formal Hazard Analysis / Safety Case approaches became adopted (eg in the process industry).
In a “system” no effect has a single cause ? Check it out.

Sample meme initiated on Slashdot
Points to a game theory article on cooperative strategy which competes successfully against freeloaders.
Useful thoughts about peer to peer systems.

Holistic
Concerning the interconnectedness of things as systems,
considering things as wholes, rather than simply the sum of their parts

Heuristic
Learning or problem solving by discovery and feedback, trial and error.
(From both Greek and Latin for discover)

Ventrella – Artificial Life site,
plus fractal art and a few philosphical goodies.

BCS (British Computer Society) Cybernetics specialist group
Series of interesting subject areas around Cognition and Quantum Physics
Quote
from State of the Art Report from Peter J. Marcer, chairman, dated 18/06/01
This ability of qubits [Quantum Bits] to ‘register’ both 1 and 0 at the same time, would therefore (as has been shown theoretically) speed up a variety of computations thought impractical classically, including, Shor[2] showed, the factoring of very large numbers important in decryption. It may also even extend the very notion of what is computable (eg to topological (non-commutable) computation, since quantum theory concerns the physics of knots). The fact, that quantum computation, a physical theory, replaces the mathematical/Turing theory as the correct one, is one even now, which few scientists and computer practitioners have taken on board. The principle subject of the Group’s annual programmes therefore concerns this fundamental paradigm change in science and computing.
Unquote
Very encouraging, to have the ability to model the real world, rather than just some rationalised “approximation” to it too.

BCS Cybernetics group also has links to
The (British) Cybernetics Society at Kings College.
Which is affiliated to The World Organisation for Systems & Cybernetics
Which has Kybernetes as its official journal.
This looks worth tracking
Brian Rudall (Bangor Uni of Wales) – Editor in Chief
(NB Gerry Wolf at Bangor – see links page)
Alex Andrew (Reading) – Internet Editor
Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate (Cambridge) - Honorary Fellow

The Golden Section – Hans Walser
The golden ratio meets Pentangles, Fractals, Pythagoras and the 80/20 rule.
(Plus the usual Fibonacci series and natural patterns etc…..)
(Pythagoras meets Fuzzy Logic in Kosko)
(Fractals meet Chaos and Fuzzy Logic everywhere)
80/20 naturally inherent in pentangles & pentagons (fifths)
But, Golden Ratio also inherent in these shapes and important related solids / hypersolids.
72/18 degrees (80/20 ratio) in the right angled triangles
Also 36/72/72 degrees (20/40/40 ratio) in the acute isosceles
Also 108/36/36 degrees (60/20/20 ratio) in the obtuse isosceles
Is there really simple geometry in fuzzy (business process) rules ??
Need to transform the golden ratio into the fuzzy logic hypercube and see if this represents any special case.
Weird, even bonkers, but then I always had a strange view of the Pareto 80/20 principle anyway – see Manifesto !!

The Seven Wonders of the Web – The Guardian
Includes Blogger (along with Google at No.1) with some good historical perspective of the significance of the web a la Douglas Adams.

Cognitive-Affective Model by Dov Te’eni from MISQ
Interesting – right in the intro to the paper includes “People ….make clever adaptations ….” Clever !
Have ongoing debates with implementors between “Users are a nuisance / dumb – my system must be sufficiently tightly constrained that a user cannot break it” on the one hand, and “It’s just as well users are creative / clever, because your system would be pretty useless if they weren’t” on the other. Both are one dimensional generalisations – 80% right, but 80% useless too. Isn’t this just cup-half-full vs cup-half-empty vs being both full and empty at the same time in reality ?

Also from MISQ
Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems
Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues, Maryam Alavi and Dorothy E. Leidner
Information Technology Development Creativity
A Case Study of Attempted Radical Change by Randolph B. Cooper
Understanding GDSS in Symbolic Context
Shifting the Focus from Technology to Interaction by Abhijit Gopal and Pushkala Prasad
An Empirical Investigation of the Factors Affecting Data Warehousing Success
Barbara H. Wixom and Hugh J. Watson
A Confessional Account of an Ethnography About Knowledge Work
Ulrike Schultze
Learning Dysfunctions in Information Systems Development
Overcoming The Social Defenses With Transitional Objects by David G. Wastell
Explanations From Intelligent Systems
Theoretical Foundations and Implications for Practice by Shirley Gregor and Izak Benbasat
And many more hours of fun ….

Just finished Bart Kosko – Fuzzy Thinking (1993)
Excellent read, though Kosko does not seem to find favour with later non-classical logicians – many notes recorded (see bibliography). Focussed on machine AI and control systems – but many analogous applications apparent. Some points that stick instantly …..
(1) Reasons given for decisions / actions (eg to an analyst) are invariably logical positivist rationalisations of what in reality were much fuzzier rules governing actual behaviour (cf Argyris) Also, like Argyris implies, makes an explicit east vs west cultural distinction in logical positivist trap. (Over stated perhaps re Japanese consumer goods industry AI – topical at time of writing ?) See also my earlier (!!) (1991) conclusion in Managing Change and Flexibility – Attitudes and Organisational Culture – Chapter 4 – Blockages to Organisational Learning. Spooky.
(2) FCM (Fuzzy Cognitive Maps) look like excellent methodology to turn “mind maps” into fuzzy analysis tool. Could consider applying to this research effort itself ??
(3) Linguistics / natural language is the key to fuzzy rules (cf Robot Wisdom and Gellish)
(4) Fundamental Fuzzy Logic – Is it a bird, is it a plane ? – Yes. Decisions, including classifications, are not binary. Even if statistical answer, the probablities do not have to add up to unity !!! Being partly “both” (or one of any number of dimensions) can be 0%-100% on each orthogonal dimension independantly. (Contrary to Aristotle / Witgenstein etc : not logical positivist perspective – closer to eastern “mysticism”) Also very closely allied to the whole school of management thinking around “Paradoxes”.
What about a real process industry example :
- is it a pump, is it a heat exchanger ? Yes, it’s a thermosiphon.
Or an Information example :
Is it a document, is it data ? Yes, it’s XML in Motion.
Or more generally ….
Is it true that XXX ?, Well, Yes and No.

The clues are in the real world. This looks blindingly obvious – why model something approximately rationally, when it is precisely irrational ? You better believe it.

Reading James Gleick – Chaos (1987) comparing with Ian Stewart – Does God Play Dice (1989).
Mostly same material content so far. Copy temporarily stolen by my elder son Tom. Need to buy another copy anyway, to replace the one loaned by Leon, now covered in notes / doodles !!

Chaos and Fuzzy Logic stuff seems to recognise many applications in physics / physical systems / machines on the one hand and in populations / ecology / economics / politics on the other, but don’t see much reference to systems on the human organisation / business scale. Scalability aspect fundamental ? Surely I’m not the first in this field ?

All confirms reasons to follow up Walsham and Myers’s more qualitative / behavioural “ethnographic” IS approaches, analysis based on “what are these people doing here ?”. (See MISQ).

Also to research Heylighen’s work on associative modelling for search engines and PCP (Principia Cybernetica Project) via Links page. Heylighen also supports a primarily “process” view of the world, with all other physical or conceptual entities, phenomena and attributes being manifestations of “things happening”. A man after my own heart if ever there was one !!!! Seems logical to me if you are modelling “business”, then process is what it is all about after all.

Also points to need to formally understand “Systems Theory” paradigm from 1950′s / 1960′s and probably “holism / holistics” too.

Bibliography page added – under construction. Intend to use to capture notes / reference points.