The impact of people's need for control

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06 Apr 2019 21:28 #336951 by Gisteron

Ambert The Traveller wrote: > Why is this a fallacious inference to make, that the extent to which we control our environment it is known to us, and by extension, the extent to which we can maximize control is as well the extent to which we can minimize the unknown?

You might have given the answer yourself:
>one would have to have access to knowledge that seems to be safely outside of what we can confidently say we have before one can make a proclamation of this sort.

I don't understand how the latter passage is any kind of answer to the question from the former. Please, explain.


Let K be a set, or a world, that countains all the known knowledge. Let's say there is also a time t and a state K_t of what is known at time t. Let c(K) be a function that expresses that you have managed to control what is in this set and make good predictions of how K_t+1 will look like a future time t+1, because you know K_t and that K_t+1=c(k_t).

So here we have a problem. K_t is said to be a state. c operates at least on sets as implied by its introduction as c(K), and it returns TRUE or FALSE depending on whether I have yet managed to control what is "in" its argument, whether by "in" you mean as an element or as a subset. I don't understand how to interpret "K_t+1=c(k_t)" at all, though. What does that mean? Is a state also just a truth value?


Now let there be an Environment E of this K, which has a set of unknown elements U which is disjunct, not connected to the elements in K.

What does any of this mean? What is an "Environment" and what does it mean for it to "have" the set U? By "disjunct" I would have assumed you meant disjoint with K, since K is the set of known things and U is literally the set of things that are not in K (assuming that is what you meant by unknown elements rather than that we do not know what is or isn't an element of U). But then you elaborate and say that U is "not connected to the elements in K" which also makes no sense at all. Do you mean it doesn't overlap with K? I don't know what it means for a set to be "connected" or not to the elements of another. I'll assume you mean disjoint, but please, try and be more precise with your wording when constructing formal mathematical arguments.


It is obvious that it is possible to maximize K by creating new elements of it, through using c(K). Yo [sic] might be able to find a lot of new elements that you can create. There might even be no limits. Or there may be limits. It all depends on K and c(K).

K is a set, not a value. I wasn't going for mathematical pedantry in my responses earlier, but I do have to now since that is how we are framing it now. You do go on to clarify that you mean maximize the cardinality of K, so I shan't dwell on this point. Anyway, if it is possible to maximize that, then there must be an actual limit to how big K can get, even if that bound is some kind of infinity. If it is conceivable that there be no limit at all, then it is not obvious at all that it can be maximized. c(K) at any rate is either TRUE or FALSE by the only definition you have proposed for it. Maybe that is what all the elements of K are, though from what I know of "worlds" in the possible worlds metaphysical sense is that they are sets of propositions, not sets of truth values, so I don't understand how you can generate an element of K through c(K).


But how would it be possible to minimize the cardinality of the set U in the environment E, with the same delta of how the cardinality of the set K was maximized? K and U are disjunct. There is no connection, isn't it?

Not the way you have defined them so far, no. But I'm not sure that the definitions as you have proposed them reflect what we mean when we speak of the known and the unknown. Surely, when something is not known, it is not just something other than known, it is specifically something that is not known. So yes, the set K of known things and the set U of unknown things are disjoint but they are also complementary within the set L of the things there are to know. For x to be in U is equivalent to it not being in K and vice versa. Thus, as we increase the "size" of one (I assume the subset relation as the order used to compare sets), we necessarily decrease the "size" of the other. When something becomes known, it doesn't just poof into K out of nowhere, it specifically ceases to be unknown, moves out of U and into K.


I tried to find one, but failed:
We assume there is possible control of the unknown, c2(U) which is somehow corelated with c(K), some kind of say c2(U)=m*c(K). An unknown control of the unknown through the control c of what is known and some other sort of mapping m.

I would caution against making that assumption. Recall that the proposition you are trying to test/prove is that there is a distinction between the set of things that can be controlled and the set of things that are known. To assume that having control of the known grants control of the unknown is tantamount to assuming the conclusion you are trying to reach in the first place.


Or speaking about controllable error, how large would the error be of trying to control and know something of which nothing, neither magnitude, quantity nor quality, is known, and which can not be accessed, nor measured, nor be in any relation to anything known?

In a distributed system, there might be a model running quite well, with little error, accurate predictions, and maximized knowledge within its context. Somewhere 'next to it', there might things be happening, irrelevant to the model and its context, but nevertheless existing, that are there even if they are and will remain completely unknown to the model.

I recently drove in my car thinking about what you said about predictive models. I agreed with you. It is all about how accurate we can predict the future. I am driving, controlling, keeping distances to the left and the right, knowing when to turn right, I have an accurate model of driving. Am just about to take it for the world, my mind being proud about it's predictions and ability to control everything. Then I see a nun in another car driving towards me. And I realised: How could I have ever predicted that a nun would be passing by in a car? Even if I would have had all the knowledge about my predictive model?

It is not only that I would have had to process an awkward amount of complexity to predict this. It is also that if I assume that any model has a context or environment, there are always things completely unknown to the model. It can never be complete.

Well, I think it is somewhat debatable whether or not it will never be complete, but yes, in principle I agree. You know enough about your car to control it, but you don't know enough about traffic to be in control of all of that as well. We can manipulate things only as well as we understand them. And to say we understand them makes any sense only if at least in principle we could manipulate them. What is outside of our understanding is outside of our control for that reason, and where we err the least is with things we know the most about.

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06 Apr 2019 23:52 - 06 Apr 2019 23:54 #336953 by Carlos.Martinez3

Cyan Sarden wrote: Our apparent need for control is the result of an incomplete / undeveloped mind. One that is driven by instinct rather than rational thought.

The obsession to control arises from fear of the unknown. We fallaciously believe that there is no unknown as long as we seemingly control our environment.

The fact is: once we've conquered our fear of the unknown (and in our lives, close to everything is unknown - what we believe to know is only a infinitesimally tiny amount of our actual environment and our place in the Force), the need for control automatically disappears.

The sooner we realize fearlessness and stop wasting our resources on attempting to control what is inherently chaotic and uncontrollable, the sooner we become peaceful, free from fear and happy. We can then use our resources to benefit others.


@ Cyan
Is cultivation or preparation based from fear or planning or from experience ? Both in the physical and spiritual sense? Is all control just a waist? Just wondering your side is all Cyan. Smiley face

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Last edit: 06 Apr 2019 23:54 by Carlos.Martinez3.

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07 Apr 2019 01:47 #336957 by Manu

ghost of the mist wrote: Control is something we as humans completely need. Or is it?


What do you mean by control? Do you mean predictability, being able to foretell what will come, and direct circumstances? What about people who are utterly depressed because they have everything, and crave spontaneity? It seems as humans we have at least as much of a need for unpredictability as the other way around.

I myself think that it is the great downfall of man. It is our need for control that keeps us at war. It is why countries are so often times at odds with one another. I wish to see the Jedi community's opinion upon this matter.


It seems to me that our need for control is also what secures peace. And progress. The need to control our health spawns medical progress. Our need to control world affairs and the power balance is also what spawns diplomacy and international organizations.

What is the alternative you offer for control? Do you suggest we should simply not care, and let the world be? How would this be different from neglect?

Long-term consistency trumps short term intensity
- Bruce Lee

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09 Apr 2019 18:10 #337023 by Ambert The Traveller

Gisteron wrote:

Ambert The Traveller wrote:

Gisteron wrote: Why is this a fallacious inference to make, that the extent to which we control our environment it is known to us, and by extension, the extent to which we can maximize control is as well the extent to which we can minimize the unknown?

You might have given the answer yourself:
>one would have to have access to knowledge that seems to be safely outside of what we can confidently say we have before one can make a proclamation of this sort.

I don't understand how the latter passage is any kind of answer to the question from the former. Please, explain.

You were referring to the part of knowledge that is unknown (since we don't have it yet), and I interpreted 'to be safely outside of what we can confidently say we have' as referring to the part safely outside of what we can access. Not sure if you meant this, too, or if I just heard it that way. But Let's say we can't access this knowledge, and it is unknown, how is it possible that it can be minimized? After all, we have no idea of it's extent, it could even be unlimited.

I don't understand how to interpret "K_t+1=c(k_t)" at all, though. What does that mean? Is a state also just a truth value?


Yes, disjoint, not disjunct, that got lost in translation. And k_t was supposed to be in uppercase. My apologies. I imagine the K to be a set of states of 'knowledge elements'. They do not have to be boolean. Could be numbers, strings, objects,... of any class inventable. Let K_t+1 then be the set of knowledge elements resulting from controling the initial set of knowledge elements over time (through being able to measure, deduct, etc.). Such that with good knowledge and a good control, a good predictive model K_t+x would result.

What is an "Environment" and what does it mean for it to "have" the set U?


Let K be the set of things known to a controlling observer; and U the set of things not known to this observer. Now say there is an E, the 'environment', which represents the world, the surroundings, or context which the observer is going to learn and control about. The bounds of E are unknown. At the beginning, E is full of elements in U, yet unknown to the observer. Let the observer now strive to use his knowledge in order to learn about these elements, thus moving elements formerly unknown from U to the set of things K known to him. So, yes, U contains things that are not in K, and U and K are disjoint sets.
Your hypothesis was, as I understood it, that by moving these elements from U to K, the set U would be minimized. And you are right that this holds true, if U and K are complimentary in a set of the things L there are to know, as you suggested.

Nevertheless, in an environment E as defined above, surrounding the controlling observer with unknown bounds, there are elements of U that are not to know, and can not be transformed to K. For whatever reason. Maybe because the observer does not have the perception or tools for it. Or they are to far away. Whatever. Let's call these elements U_. E would contain your L=K union U, but it would also contain U_. You could minimize |U| by maximizing |K|, but never |U_|.

You do go on to clarify that you mean maximize the cardinality of K, so I shan't dwell on this point. Anyway, if it is possible to maximize that, then there must be an actual limit to how big K can get, even if that bound is some kind of infinity. If it is conceivable that there be no limit at all, then it is not obvious at all that it can be maximized.


Exactly. And the same holds for U_. U and U_ can not be minimized, as long as there is the slightest chance their cardinality is unlimited. Then there is no way how we could limit what is unknown by maximizing what is known, even if it was possible we could maximize what is known.

Recall that the proposition you are trying to test/prove is that there is a distinction between the set of things that can be controlled and the set of things that are known. To assume that having control of the known grants control of the unknown is tantamount to assuming the conclusion you are trying to reach in the first place.

Not really so. The proposition I was trying to test was if it is possible to minimize the unknown through maximizing control of what is known.

And I believe the results of our tests is that this might only be possible in a limited amount of scenarios?

It is also that if I assume that any model has a context or environment, there are always things completely unknown to the model. It can never be complete.

Well, I think it is somewhat debatable whether or not it will never be complete, but yes, in principle I agree. You know enough about your car to control it, but you don't know enough about traffic to be in control of all of that as well. We can manipulate things only as well as we understand them. And to say we understand them makes any sense only if at least in principle we could manipulate them. [/quote]
I hope there might still be things we are able to understand, but we wouldn't be able to manipulate them. Let's say, a vulcano? A supernova? A black hole? Unfortunately mankind seems to learn but trying to control (and blow up?) every new thing it finds, before it can finally say: We understand now that we should not have done this... :|

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09 Apr 2019 20:20 #337025 by Gisteron

Ambert The Traveller wrote:

Gisteron wrote: Recall that the proposition you are trying to test/prove is that there is a distinction between the set of things that can be controlled and the set of things that are known.

Not really so. The proposition I was trying to test was if it is possible to minimize the unknown through maximizing control of what is known.

Interesting. I was under the impression that you were trying to show that


the extent to which we can minimize the unknown IS NOT rhe [sic] extent to which we can maximize control

which is equivalent to the proposition that there is a distinction between the set of things that can be controlled and the set of things that are known.

I'm still waiting to hear a definition of knowledge for the context at hand that would warrant any such distinction or any case as to why it is reasonable or productive to employ it. I have nothing to add to my case that


Gisteron wrote: ... the extent to which we control our environment it is known to us, and by extension, the extent to which we can maximize control is as well the extent to which we can minimize the unknown

Weak though my case has been in the first place, I'm still waiting on any substantive objection to any part of it.

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09 Apr 2019 21:28 - 09 Apr 2019 22:08 #337028 by Ambert The Traveller
Oh this philosphical beauty of math ...

I would not say it is equivalent. Because this is not necessarily boolean. The set_of_unknown_things is something different than just NOT(the_set_of_known_things). It is the set of things that are NOT(the_set_of_known_things) plus the set_of_all_other_unknown_things_that_can_not_be_known. We need to take into account that such a set may indeed exist. And if it exists, we it's cardinality may be unknown and might even be infinite. Without bounds, then, we can neither minimize this set_of_all_other_unknown_things, nor is it the extent to which we can maximize control.

The other assertion, that there is no distinction between the set_of_things_that_can_be_controlled and the set_of_things_that_are_known, is a different case. I understand that you are saying hypothesis is, that everything that is known can be controlled, and everything that can be controlled, can be known. I agree that this comes down to how one defines kowledge. Only one example of knowledge which is not the same as control will be enough to show that it indeed is not so. Let's say someone knows he is sick and will die. Everything was tried already and there is no control left, nothing he can do. Or someone is drunk and vomitting. And the person knows it is happening. But there is nothing that can be done about it. No control there, despite a gain in knowledge that it is happening.

Nevertheless, I believe I am getting your point. What we can control, we can measure, what we can measure we can know about, what we know about we can control. But I do not think this is the full picture. It only works within the limitations of a particular setting and model. Beyond this, there are things we can not control, we can not measure, we can not know about. If we would ignore this, we would be taking the model for the world, the map for the road.
Last edit: 09 Apr 2019 22:08 by Ambert The Traveller.

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10 Apr 2019 16:48 #337052 by Gisteron

Ambert The Traveller wrote: Oh this philosphical beauty of math ...

I would not say it is equivalent. Because this is not necessarily boolean. The set_of_unknown_things is something different than just NOT(the_set_of_known_things). It is the set of things that are NOT(the_set_of_known_things) plus the set_of_all_other_unknown_things_that_can_not_be_known. We need to take into account that such a set may indeed exist. And if it exists, we it's cardinality may be unknown and might even be infinite. Without bounds, then, we can neither minimize this set_of_all_other_unknown_things, nor is it the extent to which we can maximize control.

Oh, so you were working with a different definition of unknown then without disclosing it. See, I was operating under the assumption that "x is unknown" is equivalent to "it is not the case that 'x is known'". Whether or not it is possible to know x is entirely irrelevant for that definition. The set of unknown things is - in my usage of the term - just the set of things for which it is not the case that they are known. As such, the unknowable would be a subset of the things that are not known.
However, I don't find that this has anything to do with the claim. I had asserted that the extent to which we know our environment is the extent to which we can (by some agreeable definition of control) control it, at least in principle. The extension does not assert that there is a maximal magnitude of control (and hence knowledge) that it be possible to reach. Rather, I'm saying that insofar as we can increase (or indeed maximize) control, it is equivalent to decreasing (or minimizing, as the case may be) the amount of things unknown to us. If we cannot maximize/minimize those respective things at all, then that's fine, too; all I'm saying is that it cannot be that we can optimize one without optimizing the other because there is a monotony between the cardinality of the set of things known to us and the cardinality of the set of things controllable (by that agreeable definition) by us.


The other assertion, that there is no distinction between the set_of_things_that_can_be_controlled and the set_of_things_that_are_known, is a different case. I understand that you are saying hypothesis is, that everything that is known can be controlled, and everything that can be controlled, can be known. I agree that this comes down to how one defines kowledge. Only one example of knowledge which is not the same as control will be enough to show that it indeed is not so. Let's say someone knows he is sick and will die. Everything was tried already and there is no control left, nothing he can do. Or someone is drunk and vomitting. And the person knows it is happening. But there is nothing that can be done about it. No control there, despite a gain in knowledge that it is happening.

I don't understand why we need to assume that knowing death is coming or knowing of a happenstance automatically is to warrant the knower control over literally everything going on. Nothing about "I know I'm going to die" sounds at all like "I know how to cheat death" to me. Nothing about "I am aware of my inebriation and my body's current reaction to it" sounds at all like "I know how to magic myself out of drunkenness right now" to me. Now, of course that is not what you were saying, and it is perhaps a natural and worthwhile question to ask, just what control the knowledge of impending death might grant. Well, perhaps someone who gets to know of the tragedy ahead might in virtue of that knowledge obtain the opportunity to contact their friends and relatives, arrange a last meeting, tell them they love them one last time while there still is any, or speak their wishes of the future after their passing. Would the sick one not know of their soon demise, they would not have any influence over the pain their death may produce in others. That is, granted not a lot of control, just like the message of death incoming is not a lot of knowledge. If one could not find any examples of control to correspond to awareness of some bit of information, then I would question whether that awareness really constitutes "knowledge" in any meaningful sense. After all, knowledge is demonstrable, it is evident. If someone has nothing to show for "it", I find, then knowledge "it" can hardly be.

And I don't think that this is at all mitigated or challenged by the supposition of the unknowable. If we are unable to come to know a thing, we are unable to come to control it also by the very same pragmatic notion of knowledge. The only substantive challenge I see is whether or not there is a case to be made that we might do well employing such a definition. Cyan had said that it is fallacious to believe that as long as we can control our environment there is no unknown to speak of. I agree insofar as that our environment may well be a different scope from case to case, and that if it is chosen narrow enough, there may well be things outside of it that are not known despite the things inside being under control. The point I'm making is that this may not work in extension. If I mean by knowledge a capacity for control, however, then when we say we control our environment to one extent or another, we would mean that we have knowledge of the environment to that very same extent, i.e. the unknown (knowable or unknowable) remaining in it is confined to the uncontrollable, pretty much by definition.

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11 Apr 2019 23:00 #337086 by Adder
It's all inference at the end of the day I suppose, with 'truth' being somethings appearance as a balance of likely correlation or likely causation... a process of deduction or maybe its all just abduction.

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12 Apr 2019 04:40 #337095 by Gisteron
What has 'truth' to do with anything here? We can build any number of valid or 'true' inferences, but yes, at the end of the day precious little has it to do with knowledge or control in the senses mostly hitherto discussed.

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12 Apr 2019 05:04 #337097 by Adder

Gisteron wrote: What has 'truth' to do with anything here? We can build any number of valid or 'true' inferences, but yes, at the end of the day precious little has it to do with knowledge or control in the senses mostly hitherto discussed.


An appearance of truth tends to suspend ones disbelief and subdue criticality, and subsequent analysis... which can enable control more easily.

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