By Gordon Pask, Warren S. McCulloch
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Additional info for An Approach to Cybernetics
If the bias is uniform the dice thrower will produce a sequence in which IXS and ps are equiprobable. Now this sequence is matched to an environment wherein p (a) = p (b) = O'S (using the letter p as in Chapter 3, for the actual value of an a priori probability, which depends upon some physical constraint in the environment). Obviously p (a) + p (b) = I. Suppose we happened to know that p (a) = 0·8 and p (b) = 0·2 (which is a rudimentary statistical model of the environment). T he activity of the dice th rower can be matched by adjusting the bias so that the probability of IX = P (a) = 0'8 and of P = p (b) = 0·2.
Hence the controller takes. Ou. j = a or pinto account as a further bias upon the dlcethrowing process. It 'decides' according to the consequences of being wrong or right as well as the evidence that it is wrong or right. The Conditional Probability Machines Much of the pioneer work upon conditional probability machines is due to Uttley'o, who used them to model certain aspe~ts of nervous activity. He considers an idealized sensory input - blOary variables A, B, . indicating the presence or absence of disti nct attributes.
Amongst other possibilities the heart is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and by a pacemaker' in its auricle. Both are sensitive to various chemical and mechanical quantities. These, and the state of the heart, I I , • , , • , I I i • I I I 74 AN APPROACH TO CYBERNETICS BIOLO GICA L CONTROLLERS determine which control system is dominant. You cannot, in fact. avoid the problem by saying that autonomic control is mostly concerned with rate, rather than the actual beat, even though this is truc.