Cybernetics big data

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  • 1. Hapoc 2013 28-31 October 2013, ENSCybernetics, control and big data Teresa Numerico

2. Outline The cultural biases of cybernetics The influence of cybernetics on Arpanet Big data, knowledge as control and measure, AKA the dream of reason 3. The epistemology of closed-box as a model The setting up of a simple model for a closed-box assumes that a number of variables are only loosely coupled with the rest of those belonging to the system. The success of the initial experiments depends on the validity of that assumption. [] Many of these small compartments may be deliberately left closed, because they are considered only functionally, but not structurally important Rosenblueth, Wiener 1945, p. 319 4. The closed box in action []The behavioristic method of study omits the specific structure and the intrinsic organization of the object. This omission is fundamental because on it is based the distinction between the behavioristic and the alternative functional method of study. Rosenbluet, Wiener, Bigelow 1943, pp.1 5. The cybernetic perspective on machines and animals A further comparison of living organisms and machines leads to the following inferences The methods of study for the two groups are at present similar. Whether they should always be the same may depend on whether or not there are one or more qualitatively distinct, unique characteristics present in one group and absent in the other. Such qualitative differences have not appeared so far Rosenblueth, Wiener, Bigelow, 1943, p.4 6. Behavior and purpose as metaphors in the closed box By behavior is meant any change of an entity with respect to its surroundings[] Any modification of an object, detectable externally, may be denoted as behavior Purposeful behavior: [] the act or behavior may be interpreted as directed to the attainment of a goal i.e. to a final condition in which the behaving object reaches a definite correlation in time or in space with respect to another object or event Rosenblueth, Wiener, Bigelow, 1943, p.1 7. Animals and machines as information exchange agents The physical functioning of the living individual and the operation of some of the newer communication machines are precisely parallel in their analogous attempts to control entropy through feedback The information is then turned into a new form available for the further stages of performance. In both the animal and the machine this performance is made to be effective on the outer world Wiener 1950, pp.26-27 8. Communication and control When I communicate with another person, I impart a message to him, and when he communicates back to me he returns a related message which contains information primarily accessible to him and not to me When I control the actions of another person, I communicate a message to him, and although this message is in the imperative mood, the technique of communication does not differ from that of a message of fact. [] Wiener 1950, 16 9. The metaphors of cybernetics The association of living organisms and machine according to the concept of purposeful behavior The interpretation of their behavior as a correlation between an input and an output Input and output may be described as transmission of messages (information) Transmission of messages can be identified with communication interpreted as negative feedback, and servomechanisms The effectiveness of negative feedback is guaranteed by data that exhibit the order execution 10. CYBERNETICS INFLUENCE ON ARPANET 11. From human-machine interaction [] the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machines and machines are destined to play an ever-increasing part Wiener 1950:16 12. Libraries of the future It is both our hypothesis and our conviction that people can handle the major part of their interaction with the fund of knowledge better by controlling and monitoring the processing of information than by handling all the detail directly themselves Licklider 1965, p. 28 13. The aim of procognitive systems A basic part of the over-all aim for procognitive systems is to get the user of the fund of knowledge into something more nearly like an executives or commanders position. He will still read and think and, hopefully, have insights and make discoveries, but he will not have to do all the searching [] all the transforming, nor all the testing for matching or compatibility that is involved in creative use of knowledge Licklider 1965, p. 32 14. Needs and desires of users Be available when and where needed Handle both documents and facts Permit several different categories of input Make available a body of knowledge organized both broadly and deeply and foster the improvement of such organization through use Provide access to the body of knowledge through convenient procedure-oriented languages Converse or negotiate with the user while he formulates his requests Facilitate joint contribution to and use of knowledge by several or many co-workers Present flexible wide-band interface to other systems, such as research systems, informationacquisition systems and application systems Handle formal procedures (computer programs, subroutines etc.) Handle heuristics coded in such a way as to facilitate their association with situations to which they are germane Licklider 1965, pp. 36-39 15. Lickliders dream The computer will not only help the scientist with repetitive tasks but also write the rules in formulating the research hypotheses: one of the main aims of mancomputer symbiosis is to bring the computing machine effectively into the formulative parts of technical problems Licklider1960, p. 3 16. Command and control = humanmachine interaction In a letter to the members of the intergalactic computer network (25 april 1963) Licklider acting as the head of the IPTO affirmed: Command and control must be reviewed in terms of improved man-machine interaction, time-sharing and computer networks In the effort of the IPTO there must be enough evident advantage in cooperative programming and operation to lead us to solve the problems and, thus to bring into being the technology that military needs 17. Can we store information? It is false to think that information can be stored without an overwhelming depreciation of its value in a changing world because:Wiener 1950: 121 18. Bob Taylor and Vietnam reports There were discrepancies in reporting that was coming back from Vietnam to the White House about enemy killed, [] logistics reports of various kinds [] I talked to various people who were submitting these reports back to Washington. I got a sense of how the data was collected, how it was analyzed, and what was done with it before it was sent back to the White House, and I realized that there was no uniform data collection or reporting structure So they built a computer center at Tonsinook and had all of this data come in through there. After that the White House got a single report rather than several. That pleased them; whether the data was any more correct or not, I don't know, but at least it was more consistent Taylor 1989, pp. 12-13 19. Arpanet birth In 1968 Bob Taylor and Licklider wrote the seminal paper on The computer as a communication device and an year later Bob Taylor (head of the IPTO at the time) started the Arpanet project connecting the first 4 nodes 20. BIG DATA, THEIR METAPHORS AND THEIR RHETORIC 21. How big is big data In December 2012, IDC and EMC estimated the size of the digital universe (that is, all the digital data created, replicated and consumed in that year) to be 2,837 exabytes (EB) and forecast this to grow to 40,000EB by 2020 a doubling time of roughly two years. One exabyte equals a thousand petabytes (PB), or a million terabytes (TB), or a billion gigabytes (GB). So by 2020, according to IDC and EMC, the digital universe will amount to over 5,200GB per person on the planetCharles McLellan Big Data an overview, 1 october 2013, ZDNET 22. SO WHAT? 23. Why quantity means quality? Peter Norvig, Google's research director, offered an update to George Box's maxim: "All models are wrong, and increasingly you can succeed without them." Out with every theory of human behavior, from linguistics to sociology. Forget taxonomy, ontology, and psychology. Who knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves Chris AndersonThe end of the theory (Wired 2008) 24. Quantity is quality According to Hegel in logic:The science of at first quantity as such thus appears in opposition to quality; but quantity is itself a quality, self-referring determinateness as such, distinct from the determinateness with is its other, from quality as such. Except that quantity is not only a quality, but the truth of quality itself is quantity, and quality had demonstrated itself as passing over into it.(p. 279) 25. Correlations instead of explanations State contenti, umana gente, al quia; ch, se potuto aveste veder tutto, mestier non era parturir Maria; Seek not the wherefore, race of human kind; Could ye have seen the whole, no need had been for Mary to bring forth. Dante, Purgatorio canto III, 37-39 26. Correlation instead of causation Correlation analysis [] based on hard data are superior to most intuited causal connections []. But in a growing number of contexts, such analysis is also more useful and more efficient than slow causal thinking that is epitomized by carefully controlled experiments [] Causality wont be discarded, but it is being knocked off its pedestal as the primary fountain of meaning Mayer-Schnberger, Cukier 2013, pp.67-68 27. Even if you dont know why If big data teaches us anything, it is ju