Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Selection 7

Let’s pick up the observation Ashby made at the end of the last selection, regarding the job of a regulator, and continue with his text from there.

Regulation In Biological Systems


Ashby Cybernetics Figure 10.5.2

10/6.[cont.]   If F is a regulator, the insertion of F between D and E lessens the variety that is transmitted from D to E.  Thus an essential function of F as a regulator is that it shall block the transmission of variety from disturbance to essential variable.

Since this characteristic also implies that the regulator’s function is to block the flow of information, let us look at the thesis more closely to see whether it is reasonable.

Suppose that two water-baths are offered me, and I want to decide which to buy.  I test each for a day against similar disturbances and then look at the records of the temperatures;  they are as in Fig. 10/6/1.

Ashby Cybernetics Figure 10.6.1

Fig. 10/6/1

There is no doubt that \mathrm{Model}~ B is the better;  and I decide this precisely because its record gives me no information, as does A\text{'s}, about what disturbances, of heat or cold, came to it.  The thermometer and water in bath B have been unable, as it were, to see anything of the disturbances D.


  • Ashby, W.R. (1956), An Introduction to Cybernetics, Chapman and Hall, London, UK.  Republished by Methuen and Company, London, UK, 1964.  Online.

cc: CyberneticsOntolog ForumStructural ModelingSystems Science

This entry was posted in Adaptive Systems, Ashby, C.S. Peirce, Communication, Control, Cybernetics, Evolution, Information, Inquiry Driven Systems, Learning, Logic, Mathematics, Peirce, Purpose, Regulation, Survival, Truth Theory, W. Ross Ashby and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Selection 7

  1. Pingback: Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Discussion 2 | Inquiry Into Inquiry

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