Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Human Animal/Machine

To a man with a hammer, it is said, everything looks like a nail.

For a man (I have one particular man in mind here) with a little knowledge of control theory, a number of things start looking like hybrid autonomous systems. Like people, for example. Such systems have some key weaknesses, which can be traced back to their switching hybrid character. In particular, while a whole bunch of individual behaviors may be well regulated, when the switching character of the hybrid system is accounted for, instabilities can develop.

I trace a number of our characteristic human failings to the fact that the some of our control systems are being driven outside their design parameters. More on this later perhaps.

I had addiction in mind.

Interestingly enough, some of these problems can be ameliorated with a procedure based on computing Lie Derivatives of the appropriate function at some critical control points. So do you suppose that our brains have built in Lie derivators somewhere?