Sunday, October 21, 2007

Potter's "Zeroth Law of Cooperative Activity"

Potter's "Zeroth Law of Cooperative Activity"

The law is this:
"It takes two to tango!"

I am sure that intelligent folks immediately see the beauty of this law,
but I will explain it for the dumb and the dense.

Rational intelligent INDIVIDUALS
and chickens crossing the road,
operated as "closed loop systems"
when performing tasks.

What the INDIVIDUALS and chickens do,
is to form a template in their mind,
about what they, as a system, want to do,
(Cross the road, drive to work, etc.)
and then as they progress through time and space,
they adjust their output to bring their integral self
into compliance with the program on their template.

System Engineers have adopted the "closed loop" idea,
and they use "closed loop" systems largely and sometimes completely
external to themselves to perform tasks in adverse environments
or tasks that require greater power, greater force,
faster reaction, etc. than they are endowed with.

System Engineers form a template of what they want some external system
to do, with cams, piano rolls, wiggle lines on paper, computer memories, etc.

System Engineers then use the templates to modulate independent variables,
and they observe the output of the dependent variables,
and when any of the dependent variables vary from the template,
they apply a "negative feedback"
to force the dependent variables to match the template.

Note that templates can be used to control any controllable variable
such as temperature, force, velocity, acceleration, pressure,
position, the setting of a clock, etc.

Now here is where the "Zeroth Law" comes in:
If there are two (Or more) sentient beings in a closed loop system,
they have to cooperate to "tango".

If the beings do not agree on, and understand, and follow
the template, they can't tango.

Maybe they can dance, but it ain't the Tango.

Some corollaries include:
"Too many cooks spoil the broth."

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