Enigmatic mechanisms in defense of the capability to have new ideas

Enigmatic mechanisms in defense of the capability to have new ideas Purpose – This paper aims to present the argument that Heinz von Foerster's portrayals of non‐triviality in his non‐trivial machine (NTM) and in surprising human behavior are not isomorphous. It also demonstrates that the NTM does not account for spontaneity as it is observed in humans in general, nor for von Foerster's own invention of the NTM in particular. Design/methodology/approach – Demonstrating an isomorphism between the NTM and the Enigma cipher machine, the paper shows differences between the NTM and non‐trivial human behavior, which von Foerster implied to be isomorphous. It speculates why von Foerster may have accepted this inconsistency. Findings – von Foerster's NTM and the Enigma cipher machine are shown to be isomorphous. Multiple portrayals von Foerster offered of non‐triviality, however, are neither isomorphous, nor do they satisfy criteria von Foerster himself set for theories of living beings. Speculations are offered as to why von Foerster nonetheless used these portrayals of non‐triviality, and regarding a possible lineage of inspiration that connects the Enigma machine to the NTM via the work of Alan Turing and Ross Ashby. Research limitations/implications – The presented research is informal and speculative. Originality/value – The paper's originality and value arise from its questioning of the apparent isomorphism of multiple portrayals of non‐triviality, from its speculation about choices von Foerster made while facing the dilemma of defending spontaneity in terms of mechanisms, as well as from speculation about his sources of inspiration. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Kybernetes Emerald Publishing

Enigmatic mechanisms in defense of the capability to have new ideas

Kybernetes, Volume 42 (9/10): 13 – Oct 4, 2013

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0368-492X
DOI
10.1108/K-10-2012-0070
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to present the argument that Heinz von Foerster's portrayals of non‐triviality in his non‐trivial machine (NTM) and in surprising human behavior are not isomorphous. It also demonstrates that the NTM does not account for spontaneity as it is observed in humans in general, nor for von Foerster's own invention of the NTM in particular. Design/methodology/approach – Demonstrating an isomorphism between the NTM and the Enigma cipher machine, the paper shows differences between the NTM and non‐trivial human behavior, which von Foerster implied to be isomorphous. It speculates why von Foerster may have accepted this inconsistency. Findings – von Foerster's NTM and the Enigma cipher machine are shown to be isomorphous. Multiple portrayals von Foerster offered of non‐triviality, however, are neither isomorphous, nor do they satisfy criteria von Foerster himself set for theories of living beings. Speculations are offered as to why von Foerster nonetheless used these portrayals of non‐triviality, and regarding a possible lineage of inspiration that connects the Enigma machine to the NTM via the work of Alan Turing and Ross Ashby. Research limitations/implications – The presented research is informal and speculative. Originality/value – The paper's originality and value arise from its questioning of the apparent isomorphism of multiple portrayals of non‐triviality, from its speculation about choices von Foerster made while facing the dilemma of defending spontaneity in terms of mechanisms, as well as from speculation about his sources of inspiration.

Journal

KybernetesEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 4, 2013

Keywords: Creativity; Idea; Non‐trivial machine; Trivial machine; Unpredictability; Wonder; Enigma; Circular causality; Linear causality; Variety amplification

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