unedited comments on systems

Static and Stable Dynamic Systems

   In cybernetic ethics the word "systems" is used. A system denotes a simple or complex hierarchical entity. This entity is often composed of subsystems which often have their own subsystems. A defect in any system or subsystem can disrupt, in large or small ways, the operation and efficiency of all other systems. A defect in a subsystem can render the main system in a static state or it can create an instability that destroys the system. An automobile is an entity of many subsystems. A fuel gauge is a smaller subsystem within the automobile system. If the driver ignores the fuel gauge and does not put gasoline into the automobile, the automobile will eventually be rendered inoperable and become a static system.

    A dynamic system is composed of many interdependent subsystems. If a subsystem fails, this fact can affect the dynamics of a whole galaxy of other subsystems and the survival of the main system. For example, if one does not put gasoline in the auto, the auto will not run. If the automobile does not run, the transmission, differential and alternator will not run. Independent systems external to the car are also affected. If a person cannot get to work because he is out of gas, he probably cannot make the income necessary to buy food, and pay for housing, for the car, and the like.

    Another example might be an interpersonal system instead of a technology system. A dynamic system can become static or unstable and destructive. If a wheel is spinning at a very high speed it will begin to vibrate if it is out of balance. If the vibrations increase to a certain level the wheel will fly apart. This is an example of  an inanimate system becoming unstable but human systems can also become unstable and fly apart. Consider the dynamics of a marriage system. If a husband cheats on his wife the marriage system can go unstable due to certain imbalances in the interplay between the man and the woman. As conflicts and fighting intensify the feedbacks can escalate to such a level that participants can no longer respond to arguments in a rational way. If the marriage system goes unstable, participants can be profoundly hurt. At a minimum, the fighting will affect the harmony and integrity of all other dependent and independent systems in a person's life. As conflicts in a system grow, the system begins to fail due to systemic instability. Every system has a finite amount of energy with which to survive, therefore instability cannot last indefinitely. The marriage can fail and thus become static or it can escalate in emotional intensity to the point of physical destructiveness. Rules break ever intensifying conflicts. Conflicts are held in check by the civilizing influences of ethical systems, customs, manners in addition to the laws of the land.

     It is important to understand interdependency when thinking about cybernetics, humans systems and technology. An airplane is a system. It is composed of many subsystems. The plane cannot fly without fuel; the food that is served must be safe and edible; the amount of baggage it can carry is limited; there must be a system to clean the airplane, and so forth and so on. Ethical systems evolve because of an absolute interdependency between men, machines, technology, and the environment. Rules of all descriptions underscore the reality of human interdependency.

   Certain natural laws derive from the interactions of men, machines, technology and the environment. 1. All dynamic systems seek a dynamic state of equilibrium. Most systems move towards stability and away from instability. If brief times of instability are part of bringing long lasting stability, a system will allow it. 2. Surviving systems optimize their energies by prioritizing needs. 3. Each subsystem demands recognition proportionate to its contribution to systemic stability. Otherwise instability will occur and all subsystems of an entity will be rendered in a static state. In any system, ignorance or non-recognition of a particular interdependent system will generally lead to the instability of a broad range of subsystems (i.e. failure of an airline company to recognize the accumulative effects of poor workmanship on the integrity of the airplane can lead to catastrophic failure of the plane in flight.). Proportionate recognition means that even the smallest subsystem in a galaxy of subsystem has at certain times a priority that overrides other systems and subsystems in importance. For, instance if a captain of a commercial airliner were to ignore looking at the fuel gauge as he circled the Portland airport for more than an hour (an actual circumstance) his misplaced could cause a crash for lack of fuel. Ethical system in a sense are forced upon the conscience of mortal men and women who would otherwise follow their own self-interest towards ignorance and death for lack of understanding of the human condition. Moral systems, customs, rules of etiquette, and statutory laws in a very real sense are the operating instructions for human beings. These rule systems address hidden aspects of human nature that might be overlooked un till it was to late and a person put themselves in harms way.

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Note: The idea of natural grace and transcendent grace are exemplified in the concept of cybernetics and ethics. Christians in some interpretations are born to sin (because they are at the same time granted life and a degree of autonomy from God), but by a certain investment in religion, receive divine grace. Inappropriate actions have consequences that are mitigated by grace. The heathen in the Natural world, apart from religion, receives grace by way of attentiveness, alertness, and avoidance of near death experiences. In both systems there is an initial "wired in" tendency towards self-serving interest and ignorance that is offset by a form of grace. In the natural world, actions have their consequent reactions giving rise to the perception of that fact which prevents certain other actions from being performed.