An Interst in Cybernetics

2010-02-13

Cybernetics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics

Is a subject which has come to my attention following reading some material from a book called "Web of Life" by Fritjof Capra:

http://www.fritjofcapra.net/

Until now I have had an assumption of what it is all about, but never a clear clean definition. The most interesting aspect of Cybernetics to me currently is its application as a tool to measure whether a system is prone to feedback loops, or if it is self-correcting.

Apparently, any system, whether it me organic or abstract, or mechanical, or conceptual, follows the same rules. Namely, if a system has an even number of negative* feedbacks as part of its loop, it will be reinforcing, if it has an odd number of negative feedback-segments, it will be self-correcting.

[as seen in the enclosed image]

This piece of information is important to my world-view for a number of reasons: it reinforces my translation-principle [that all systems, whether living or not, follow the same laws and are thus interchangeable], and because it puts a new framework around a means to determine whether a system will achieve dynamic-equilibrium or break out of its current state. In other words: when we claim that something is "sustainable" we are implying that the "overall/generic" causal loop of a system reaches "overall/generic" dynamic equilibrium.

*: negative here is not a value statement, but rather a description of whether the small changes that occur in the causal loop are reduced or reinforced. A negative effect is one which reinforces the effect.