Entropy production and emergence in behavior LO20345

Leo Minnigh (L.D.Minnigh@library.tudelft.nl)
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 10:37:25 +0100 (MET)

Replying to LO20309 --

Dear LO'ers, dear Jon,

Your contribution is marvelous, not at least because you were able to
connect so much other contributions. Your mail is like the cake, composed
of many ingredients, mixed in a proper way, etc.

Another metaphor cam into my mind: the relay race. You took the baton from
the former runners and you started to run so fast that I needed some time
to cope with the speed of your rounding the oval track.

I follow you right untill the end. I came to simmilar conclusions as you.
Particularly with:

> antecedents --> force --> push/prompt --> spread
> consequences --> force --> pull/attract --> concentrate

Than you made some very interesting statements about passive and active
resistance. Punishment as active resistance is nothing else as a backward
flux, which are only other words for the same principle.

I will make anothe large jump in your mail:

> As I first mentioned in 20211, the strength of a consequence to attract
> behavior is dependent on several criteria. First, there must be a feedback
> loop present to connect the individual with the particular consequence.
> Next, the consequence must be desired by the individual (more so than the
> other consequences that are also available for competing behaviors). The
> other 2 dimensions that play a role in the ability of a consequence to
> attract behavior are the immediacy of the consequence in relation to the
> occurrence of the behavior, and the certainty that it will result. The
> more immediate and certain the outcome, the more powerful the ability to
> attract behavior.

This is probably the right moment to mention something which struggle for
a long time: addiction, enslavement, like drugs, alcohol, over-eating
cigarettes, gambling.

All these things are great attractors, although the victom usually knows
very well that it is unhealthy. The mind says NO, the heart says YES. The
short-term consequence is desired, the long-term not. With all our
cooperate thinking, there are several possibilities to handle this
world-wide problem.

1. Push the victom in another direction
2. Punishment after use
3. Make the attractor unreachable (legal and physical barriers). (BTW, one
can see that if the attractor is strong, this method is of limited value)
4. distract the immedite attractivity
5. create another strong but less harmful attractor.

There are also other behavioral addictions: power and authority. Some
people (usually men) who 'kick' on power.

Could we say something more on this issue?

Is the following paragraph of Jon the clue?

> In some behavioral systems, behavior is in a state of stable equilibrium,
> that is, the positive reinforcers that are attracting behavior do not have
> other competing positive consequences that are more desired. In such
> cases, if we (as the baker of the process) want some other behavior to
> occur, we must introduce additional energy into the system by providing
> some socially mediated (preferably positive) reinforcer that will begin to
> change behavior. In order for the behavior to continue, we will always
> have to provide this social reinforcement. The instant that it is no
> longer available, the behavior will begin to be extinguished. Without the
> socially mediated reinforcement (be it positive or negative reinforcement
> more prevalently used in these situations), the system will remain in or
> return to its present state of [stable] equilibrium.

And than Jon explains the something more:
> indefinitely. If we are able to connect the individual with the future,
> more desired consequences via our transition bridge, the realization of
> these future consequences may become enough to begin to attract behavior
> on their own, even when our bridge is withdrawn (in situations such as
> this, consultants can play a powerful role in facilitating the emergence
> of these new behaviors, and the engagement can be of limited duration).
> This type of system is in a state of labile equilibrium with much free
> energy. Our bridge intervention is the equivalent of pushing the system
> over the edge (connecting with the future consequences) and allowing the
> system to rush to its new attractor state of equilibrium.
It has also to do with the story of At about Jack and Jill on both sides
of the hill.

When I read the Primer of At, and now the mail of Jon, I had the siphon in
mind. You probably know the principle:

A reservoir of water on one side of the hill. A flexible tube from this
reservoir OVER the hill, and than on the other side towards the valley on
a lower level than the reservoir. Once the tube is filled with water, the
reservoir will empty. The flow of the water is initially ANTI-gravity, but
knowing its future (a more attractive situation) its behavior could cope
(overcome) with this barrier. The barrier is apparant. We are able to
lift the reservoir, so the water will run faster, or we could lower the
end of the tube. But to keep the water running, there must be a positive
difference in elevation between reservoir and the end of the tube.

And this example is probably a niceone to illustrate the following part of
Jon's message.

Thank you Jon, for your very, very interesting and instructive insights on
behaviorol sciences.

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <L.D.Minnigh@library.tudelft.nl>

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