ENGINEERING AND SOCIETY: The Role of Preferences

eJournal: uffmm.org,
ISSN 2567-6458, 4.May 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

FINAL HYPOTHESIS

This suggests that a symbiosis between creative humans and computing algorithms is an attractive pairing. For this we have to re-invent our official  learning processes in schools and universities to train the next generation of humans in a more inspired and creative usage of algorithms in a game-like learning processes.

CONTEXT

The overall context is given by the description of the Actor-Actor Interaction (AAI) paradigm as a whole.  In this text the special relationship between engineering and the surrounding society is in the focus. And within this very broad and rich relationship the main interest lies in the ethical dimension here understood as those preferences of a society which are more supported than others. It is assumed that such preferences manifesting themselves  in real actions within a space of many other options are pointing to hidden values which guide the decisions of the members of a society. Thus values are hypothetical constructs based on observable actions within a cognitively assumed space of possible alternatives. These cognitively represented possibilities are usually only given in a mixture of explicitly stated symbolic statements and different unconscious factors which are influencing the decisions which are causing the observable actions.

These assumptions represent  until today not a common opinion and are not condensed in some theoretical text. Nevertheless I am using these assumptions here because they help to shed some light on the rather complex process of finding a real solution to a stated problem which is rooted in the cognitive space of the participants of the engineering process. To work with these assumptions in concrete development processes can support a further clarification of all these concepts.

ENGINEERING AND SOCIETY

DUAL: REAL AND COGNITIVE

The relationship between an engineering process and the preferences of a society
The relationship between an engineering process and the preferences of a society

As assumed in the AAI paradigm the engineering process is that process which connects the  event of  stating a problem combined with a first vision of a solution with a final concrete working solution.

The main characteristic of such an engineering process is the dual character of a continuous interaction between the cognitive space of all participants of the process with real world objects, actions, and processes. The real world as such is a lose collection of real things, to some extend connected by regularities inherent in natural things, but the visions of possible states, possible different connections, possible new processes is bound to the cognitive space of biological actors, especially to humans as exemplars of the homo sapiens species.

Thus it is a major factor of training, learning, and education in general to see how the real world can be mapped into some cognitive structures, how the cognitive structures can be transformed by cognitive operations into new structures and how these new cognitive structures can be re-mapped into the real world of bodies.

Within the cognitive dimension exists nearly infinite sets of possible alternatives, which all indicate possible states of a world, whose feasibility is more or less convincing. Limited by time and resources it is usually not possible to explore all these cognitively tapped spaces whether and how they work, what are possible side effects etc.

PREFERENCES

Somehow by nature, somehow by past experience biological system — like the home sapiens — have developed   cultural procedures to induce preferences how one selects possible options, which one should be selected, under which circumstances and with even more constraints. In some situations these preferences can be helpful, in others they can  hide possibilities which afterwards can be  re-detected as being very valuable.

Thus every engineering process which starts  a transformation process from some cognitively given point of view to a new cognitively point of view with a following up translation into some real thing is sharing its cognitive space with possible preferences of  the cognitive space of the surrounding society.

It is an open case whether the engineers as the experts have an experimental, creative attitude to explore without dogmatic constraints the   possible cognitive spaces to find new solutions which can improve life or not. If one assumes that there exist no absolute preferences on account of the substantially limit knowledge of mankind at every point of time and inferring from this fact the necessity to extend an actual knowledge further to enable the mastering of an open unknown future then the engineers will try to explore seriously all possibilities without constraints to extend the power of engineering deeper into the heart of the known as well as unknown universe.

EXPLORING COGNITIVE POSSIBILITIES

At the start one has only a rough description of the problem and a rough vision of a wanted solution which gives some direction for the search of an optimal solution. This direction represents also a kind of a preference what is wanted as the outcome of the process.

On account of the inherent duality of human thinking and communication embracing the cognitive space as well as the realm of real things which both are connected by complex mappings realized by the brain which operates  nearly completely unconscious a long process of concrete real and cognitive actions is necessary to materialize cognitive realities within a  communication process. Main modes of materialization are the usage of symbolic languages, paintings (diagrams), physical models, algorithms for computation and simulations, and especially gaming (in several different modes).

As everybody can know  these communication processes are not simple, can be a source of  confusions, and the coordination of different brains with different cognitive spaces as well as different layouts of unconscious factors  is a difficult and very demanding endeavor.

The communication mode gaming is of a special interest here  because it is one of the oldest and most natural modes to learn but in the official education processes in schools and  universities (and in companies) it was until recently not part of the official curricula. But it is the only mode where one can exercise the dimensions of preferences explicitly in combination with an exploring process and — if one wants — with the explicit social dimension of having more than one brain involved.

In the last about 50 – 100 years the term project has gained more and more acceptance and indeed the organization of projects resembles a game but it is usually handled as a hierarchical, constraints-driven process where creativity and concurrent developing (= gaming) is not a main topic. Even if companies allow concurrent development teams these teams are cognitively separated and the implicit cognitive structures are black boxes which can not be evaluated as such.

In the presupposed AAI paradigm here the open creative space has a high priority to increase the chance for innovation. Innovation is the most valuable property in face of an unknown future!

While the open space for a real creativity has to be executed in all the mentioned modes of communication the final gaming mode is of special importance.  To enable a gaming process one has explicitly to define explicit win-lose states. This  objectifies values/ preferences hidden   in the cognitive space before. Such an  objectification makes things transparent, enables more rationality and allows the explicit testing of these defined win-lose states as feasible or not. Only tested hypothesis represent tested empirical knowledge. And because in a gaming mode whole groups or even all members of a social network can participate in a  learning process of the functioning and possible outcome of a presented solution everybody can be included.  This implies a common sharing of experience and knowledge which simplifies the communication and therefore the coordination of the different brains with their unconsciousness a lot.

TESTING AND EVALUATION

Testing a proposed solution is another expression for measuring the solution. Measuring is understood here as a basic comparison between the target to be measured (here the proposed solution) and the before agreed norm which shall be used as point of reference for the comparison.

But what can be a before agreed norm?

Some aspects can be mentioned here:

  1. First of all there is the proposed solution as such, which is here a proposal for a possible assistive actor in an assumed environment for some intended executive actors which has to fulfill some job (task).
  2. Part of this proposed solution are given constraints and non-functional requirements.
  3. Part of this proposed solution are some preferences as win-lose states which have to be reached.
  4. Another difficult to define factor are the executive actors if they are biological systems. Biological systems with their basic built in ability to act free, to be learning systems, and this associated with a not-definable large unconscious realm.

Given the explicit preferences constrained by many assumptions one can test only, whether the invited test persons understood as possible instances of the  intended executive actors are able to fulfill the defined task(s) in some predefined amount of time within an allowed threshold of making errors with an expected percentage of solved sub-tasks together with a sufficient subjective satisfaction with the whole process.

But because biological executive actors are learning systems they  will behave in different repeated  tests differently, they can furthermore change their motivations and   their interests, they can change their emotional commitment, and because of their   built-in basic freedom to act there can be no 100% probability that they will act at time t as they have acted all the time before.

Thus for all kinds of jobs where the process is more or less fixed, where nothing new  will happen, the participation of biological executive actors in such a process is questionable. It seems (hypothesis), that biological executing actors are better placed  in jobs where there is some minimal rate of curiosity, of innovation, and of creativity combined with learning.

If this hypothesis is empirically sound (as it seems), then all jobs where human persons are involved should have more the character of games then something else.

It is an interesting side note that the actual research in robotics under the label of developmental robotics is struck by the problem how one can make robots continuously learning following interesting preferences. Given a preference an algorithm can work — under certain circumstances — often better than a human person to find an optimal solution, but lacking such a preference the algorithm is lost. And actually there exists not the faintest idea how algorithms should acquire that kind of preferences which are interesting and important for an unknown future.

On the contrary, humans are known to be creative, innovative, detecting new preferences etc. but they have only limited capacities to explore these creative findings until some telling endpoint.

This suggests that a symbiosis between creative humans and computing algorithms is an attractive pairing. For this we have to re-invent our official  learning processes in schools and universities to train the next generation of humans in a more inspired and creative usage of algorithms in a game-like learning processes.

 

 

 

 

THE BIG PICTURE: HCI – HMI – AAI in History – Engineering – Society – Philosophy

eJournal: uffmm.org,
ISSN 2567-6458, 20.April 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

A first draft version …

CONTEXT

The context for this text is the whole block dedicated to the AAI (Actor-Actor Interaction)  paradigm. The aim of this text is to give the big picture of all dimensions and components of this subject as it shows up during April 2019.

The first dimension introduced is the historical dimension, because this allows a first orientation in the course of events which lead  to the actual situation. It starts with the early days of real computers in the thirties and forties of the 20 century.

The second dimension is the engineering dimension which describes the special view within which we are looking onto the overall topic of interactions between human persons and computers (or machines or technology or society). We are interested how to transform a given problem into a valuable solution in a methodological sound way called engineering.

The third dimension is the whole of society because engineering happens always as some process within a society.  Society provides the resources which can be used and spends the preferences (values) what is understood as ‘valuable’, as ‘good’.

The fourth dimension is Philosophy as that kind of thinking which takes everything into account which can be thought and within thinking Philosophy clarifies conditions of thinking, possible tools of thinking and has to clarify when some symbolic expression becomes true.

HISTORY

In history we are looking back in the course of events. And this looking back is in a first step guided by the  concepts of HCI (Human-Computer Interface) and  HMI (Human-Machine Interaction).

It is an interesting phenomenon how the original focus of the interface between human persons and the early computers shifted to  the more general picture of interaction because the computer as machine developed rapidly on account of the rapid development of the enabling hardware (HW)  the enabling software (SW).

Within the general framework of hardware and software the so-called artificial intelligence (AI) developed first as a sub-topic on its own. Since the last 10 – 20 years it became in a way productive that it now  seems to become a normal part of every kind of software. Software and smart software seem to be   interchangeable. Thus the  new wording of augmented or collective intelligence is emerging intending to bridge the possible gap between humans with their human intelligence and machine intelligence. There is some motivation from the side of society not to allow the impression that the smart (intelligent) machines will replace some day the humans. Instead one is propagating the vision of a new collective shape of intelligence where human and machine intelligence allows a symbiosis where each side gives hist best and receives a maximum in a win-win situation.

What is revealing about the actual situation is the fact that the mainstream is always talking about intelligence but not seriously about learning! Intelligence is by its roots a static concept representing some capabilities at a certain point of time, while learning is the more general dynamic concept that a system can change its behavior depending from actual external stimuli as well as internal states. And such a change includes real changes of some of its internal states. Intelligence does not communicate this dynamics! The most demanding aspect of learning is the need for preferences. Without preferences learning is impossible. Today machine learning is a very weak example of learning because the question of preferences is not a real topic there. One assumes that some reward is available, but one does not really investigate this topic. The rare research trying to do this job is stating that there is not the faintest idea around how a general continuous learning could happen. Human society is of no help for this problem while human societies have a clash of many, often opposite, values, and they have no commonly accepted view how to improve this situation.

ENGINEERING

Engineering is the art and the science to transform a given problem into a valuable and working solution. What is valuable decides the surrounding enabling society and this judgment can change during the course of time.  Whether some solution is judged to be working can change during the course of time too but the criteria used for this judgment are more stable because of their adherence to concrete capabilities of technical solutions.

While engineering was and is  always  a kind of an art and needs such aspects like creativity, innovation, intuition etc. it is also and as far as possible a procedure driven by defined methods how to do things, and these methods are as far as possible backed up by scientific theories. The real engineer therefore synthesizes art, technology and science in a unique way which can not completely be learned in the schools.

In the past as well as in the present engineering has to happen in teams of many, often many thousands or even more, people which coordinate their brains by communication which enables in the individual brains some kind of understanding, of emerging world pictures,  which in turn guide the perception, the decisions, and the concrete behavior of everybody. And these cognitive processes are embedded — in every individual team member — in mixtures of desires, emotions, as well as motivations, which can support the cognitive processes or obstruct them. Therefore an optimal result can only be reached if the communication serves all necessary cognitive processes and the interactions between the team members enable the necessary constructive desires, emotions, and motivations.

If an engineering process is done by a small group of dedicated experts  — usually triggered by the given problem of an individual stakeholder — this can work well for many situations. It has the flavor of a so-called top-down approach. If the engineering deals with states of affairs where different kinds of people, citizens of some town etc. are affected by the results of such a process, the restriction to  a small group of experts  can become highly counterproductive. In those cases of a widespread interest it seems promising to include representatives of all the involved persons into the executing team to recognize their experiences and their kinds of preferences. This has to be done in a way which is understandable and appreciative, showing esteem for the others. This manner of extending the team of usual experts by situative experts can be termed bottom-up approach. In this usage of the term bottom-up this is not the opposite to top-down but  is reflecting the extend in which members of a society are included insofar they are affected by the results of a process.

SOCIETY

Societies in the past and the present occur in a great variety of value systems, organizational structures, systems of power etc.  Engineering processes within a society  are depending completely on the available resources of a society and of its value systems.

The population dynamics, the needs and wishes of the people, the real territories, the climate, housing, traffic, and many different things are constantly producing demands to be solved if life shall be able and continue during the course of time.

The self-understanding and the self-management of societies is crucial for their ability to used engineering to improve life. This deserves communication and education to a sufficient extend, appropriate public rules of management, otherwise the necessary understanding and the freedom to act is lacking to use engineering  in the right way.

PHILOSOPHY

Without communication no common constructive process can happen. Communication happens according to many  implicit rules compressed in the formula who when can speak how about what with whom etc. Communication enables cognitive processes of for instance  understanding, explanations, lines of arguments.  Especially important for survival is the ability to make true descriptions and the ability to decide whether a statement is true or not. Without this basic ability communication will break down, coordination will break down, life will break down.

The basic discipline to clarify the rules and conditions of true communication, of cognition in general, is called Philosophy. All the more modern empirical disciplines are specializations of the general scope of Philosophy and it is Philosophy which integrates all the special disciplines in one, coherent framework (this is the ideal; actually we are far from this ideal).

Thus to describe the process of engineering driven by different kinds of actors which are coordinating themselves by communication is primarily the task of philosophy with all their sub-disciplines.

Thus some of the topics of Philosophy are language, text, theory, verification of a  theory, functions within theories as algorithms, computation in general, inferences of true statements from given theories, and the like.

In this text I apply Philosophy as far as necessary. Especially I am introducing a new process model extending the classical systems engineering approach by including the driving actors explicitly in the formal representation of the process. Learning machines are included as standard tools to improve human thinking and communication. You can name this Augmented Social Learning Systems (ASLS). Compared to the wording Augmented Intelligence (AI) (as used for instance by the IBM marketing) the ASLS concept stresses that the primary point of reference are the biological systems which created and create machine intelligence as a new tool to enhance biological intelligence as part of biological learning systems. Compared to the wording Collective Intelligence (CI) (as propagated by the MIT, especially by Thomas W.Malone and colleagues) the spirit of the CI concept seems to be   similar, but perhaps only a weak similarity.

THE BETTER WORLD PROJECT IDEA

eJournal: uffmm.org, ISSN 2567-6458
Email: info@uffmm.org

Last changes: 9.Oct.2018 (Engineering part)

Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch

Enhanced version of the 'Better World Project' Idea by making explicit the engineering part touching all other aspects
Enhanced version of the ‘Better World Project’ Idea by making explicit the engineering part touching all other aspects

 

The online-book project published on the uffmm.org website has to be seen within a bigger idea which can be named ‘The better world project’.

As outlined in the figure above you can see that the AAIwSE theory is the nucleus of a project which intends to enable a global learning space which connects individual persons as well as schools, universities, cities as well as companies, and even more if wanted.

There are other ideas around using the concept ‘better world’, butt these other concepts are targeting other subjects. In this view here the engineering perspective is laying the ground to build new more effective systems to enhance all aspects of life.

As you already can detect in the AAAIwSE theory published so far there exists a new and enlarged vision of the acting persons, the engineers as the great artists of the real world. Taking this view seriously there will be a need for a new kind of spirituality too which is enabling the acting persons to do all this with a vital interest in the future of life in the universe.

Actually the following websites are directly involved in the ‘Better World Project Idea’: this site ‘uffmm.org’ (in English)  and (in German)  ‘cognitiveagent.org‘ and ‘Kommunalpolitik & eGaming‘. The last link points to an official project of the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (FRA-UAS) which will apply the AAI-Methods to all communities in Germany (about 11.000).