would like to think
(and the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching the clear sky.
like to think
(right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.
Like to think
(it has to be!)
a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace
in the 1970s, I used to have the book of poetry from
which this comes.
I had, unfortunately forgotten both the authors
name and the title of the collection. The poem,
I recalled as titled Machines
of Loving Grace. I remember it had a powerful
impact on me at the time because it tapped into my
deeper sense of how technology should be developed
ran into the poem again when I bought a copy of
the 30th Anniversary Celebration Edition of the Whole
Earth Catalog [link].
This poem rejects the soul/body dichotomy which says
that machines, tools [link] and
nature are not compatible. It recognizes
that cybernetic tools make a different class of
technology than anything humankind has built before.
end of this evolutionary branch - be it five years
or five generations away - is the birth on a new species [link].
poem was by Richard Brautigan [link].
the mean time, as we travel this path, is the reality
of basic augmentation in
the many forms that it will possible for us to build
today and in the near future. By augmentation, I
mean the machine tool’s ability to extend and
lever a human’s cognitive functions and a humans
ability to do do the same for the machines that we
What happens when an educated human and a smart machine
intelligent environment [link] using
a powerful synthetic process? What happens when all
of the elements, in this environment act with collaborative
What happens when strong
memory [link] is
created in a network of humans, machines, organizations
and ValueWebs [link]?
The potential that emanates from actually answering
these questions by building machine/human networks
that act with synergy is far greater than anything
the human race has achieved before. It is practical,
now, to explore this path. The NavCenter [link:how to make and use navcenters] was
conceived with this potential in mind and also constitutes
best rapid prototyping lab to advance this ideal of
networked machine/human integration.
the 7 Domains Model, the
5th Domain is the technical infrastructure and work
algorithms that make this possible. It is the nervous
system of an organization. It is the commons tool-kit.
As with all Domains, Technical System can be seen
as a distinct part but has to be understood as integrated to
the rest. It is this act of integration, itself,
that provides the extraordinary power that is possible
within this Domain. Many so-called systems, today,
do not follow this principle of deep integration.
Failure to do this pulls a function and a process
out of context - out of
the total work being done - resulting in a weak
requiring the tool to stand on its own -
the consequence of
a lost opportunity. We end up in a world of “Johnny
one note” technologies that do not interface
well with each other let alone the human user - each
of an embedded epistemology that no one really designed
nor takes responsibility for. The result is an expensive
overhead of highly leveraged disintegration - not augmentation.
is the totality of a systems behavior that
counts. Nature builds integrated systems. This has
proven, so far, to be difficult
for humans. Building the system in the environment
it is to operate in is necessary if the successful
creation of a complex Technical System is to be
accomplished - if the tools
are going to work the way we want; if the system
is to provide us the requisite variety we need to
navigate the world we
creating and no longer seem to be able to live successfully
the development of the MG Taylor technical systems,
we have followed this embedded approach. We use a
in the environment it is to be used in, to build
a new version of the system using the process that
the new iteration - when finished - is going to support.
This is how CAMELOT was developed [link].
This is how the DesignShop works - and how it
was developed. This is why the PatchWorks architecture [link: patchworks] will
scale. This process
one of constructing
a brain, a nervous system - the organizational mind
of group genius.
these kinds of systems requires
rapid prototyping with feedback
in an environment of punctuated evolution.”
During the development and use of these capabilities,
feedback must come from more than one level of recursion.
The result is intentional and emergent [link].
On the enterprise level, Weak
Signal Research [link] has
to be employed else the feedback on the applications/product
level will drive to a
sub-optimal result. The feedback has to come from
the future vision of the system not just the reality
of the present capability and market. In concert
with this, the mission of the enterprise has to be
design participant-voice (agent)
in the design/development process. In the case of
MG Taylor and it’s systems, for example, the mission [link] is
to support the Transition
Augmentation is a broad field that encompasses many
dimensions of systems and work-process protocols.
In the case of the Taylor system and
method these processes are described primarily in subsystem
1 of the patent [link] (and
patent pending), and the computer application - CyberCon,
itself, as a system concept, is made up of three
broad component areas. A tool-kit providing an integrated
calendar keeper, time and task manager, knowledge-base
manager, scenario builder, strategy developer, network
manager, creativity guide and interface to applications
tools. This tool-kit is organized around the Taylor Iconic
Language and work processes/protocols. The second
component is an expert system engine
and KnowledgeBase that can be imbedded into the users
environment (and components thereof) to create a smart capability.
The third is a set of algorithms and protocols from
which a true intelligent system may evolve
in the future.
idea of Creative Augmentation goes back to Vannevar
Bush [link: vannevar bush wikipedia] in the 1940s with the writing of As
We May Think [link: memex, the atlantic, 1945] - to the work of Doug
Alan Kay [link],
Ted Nelson [link] and
many others. Xerox PARC [link] was
an early explorer of augmentation systems. Recent
developments with the www, programs like JAVA and open
source protocols provide
a ready tool-kit for the rapid-prototyping and broad
systems. To a certain degree, however, true augmentation
has been lost in the gold rush of building applications
for specific and isolated tasks. This is like selling
an automobile by the parts and asking the user to
assemble it and build the highway to go along with
it. I do not consider text editing to be an application
- it is a tool. How many text editors do you have
in you computer? I consider an application to be
something like designing, creating and managing architecture;
this would require an integrated suite of many tools
we now call applications. It would require content
knowledge unique to the field of the application.
It would also require something more. This something
path to knowledge
unique aspect that I have brought to the process
of making augmentation systems is the practice of
building the OS in a physical environment/system that works everyday
with real people solving real problems.
the algorithms are developed, demonstrated, tested
and used while being supported by an ever-developing run/walk/run technical
system - the Design/Build/Use process is employed through
multiple iterations of work. This is a rapid prototyping
these work processes and their algorithms can be
described on six levels of language [link] and
can be observed, simultaneously, in several different
human/machine systems, we have a high confidence
level in the models that have emerged from these
explorations. As far as I know, there is no other
has anywhere near
throughput nor the documented history in regards
the facilitation and augmentation of the individual,
group creative and collaborative process of human
this is effected
by environment, tool-kit, knowledge-base
and process agency.
as I will outlined elsewhere, this Technical System
concept can be applied on 7 levels of recursion
from the individual to the global societal level.
These levels, generally, follow Millers Living
Systems Model which provides an excellent schema to
describe critical recursion levels. This is important
in regards scalability of the system and the maintenance
of work continuity between levels of an enterprise,
ValueWeb or global culture.
far future potentials of augmentation are now something
that must be explored - I will do so at the end of
this essay. Technological capabilities are developing
but the protocols
and the ethics of how these capabilities should be
applied, lag far behind. There is little in our recent
history that suggests that these extraordinary means
will not be used in massively destructive ways.
main thrust of all this, however, always gets back
to the the human aspect of technology - to the spirit of
the poem that opened this piece. We can no longer
afford the disconnect, that we have today, between
and our humanity. We no longer can afford the disconnect
we have between the totality of our human enterprise
and ecology of which we are a part. Our ability to
proliferate and destroy far outstrips our ability
to be wise - and the gap is rapidly widening. With
all our power, we fail at the very basics of life:
community, health, education, peaceful existence.
All of this is, of course is blamed on some people
- the “others”. I wonder if, instead,
it it more the total system we live in than
the nature or good will of
the vast majority of humans. I wonder if it is not
our ability to see, to integrate, to reach out, to
connect that is inadequate for the complexity we
have created and now find ourselves “living” in.
I do know this: the Taylor System has consistently
two decades, the ability to deal with complexity
and facilitate groups
though “impossible” situations to benign
results. What if the full power of this process was
through the redesign of networks of technical systems
turning them into true human augmentation tools?
What if we use this tool to recreate our social,
political, economic reality based on what we now
know about humanness? What if?
are many dimensions of augmentation as a broad subject
both physical and mental. It is also legitimate to
consider the augmentation of certain kinds of networks
systems. My interest here, however, is the augmentation
of the human cognitive functions across a wide arena
of work habitats and social networks.
I am most concerned with those cognitive functions
that make up the so-called creative and collaborative
processes. In my view, the exercising of these functions
requires massive cross-functional
and integrative capabilities [link] and
a set of specific cognitive habits [link].
Building systems to support these processes requires
an operational understanding of how memory [link] works
in a dynamic, learning, emergent system. And, by
cognitive, I do not mean just those mental
functions that an individual is aware of. I mean
a suite of mental processes that occur throughout
a complex nervous system, a single mind, a grouping
of minds and those embedded in environments, including
that support productive activities. Augmentation,
as Doug Engelbart refers to it, is a bootstrap process
It involves AGENCY as described in Minsky’s The Society
of Mind [link].
augmentation, then, enhances cognitive capibilities
in a way that maintains the desired harmoney in a
system. This requres a long range view of consequences
and feedback [link] from
multiple levels of recursions over may iterations
in my view of it, has to involve tools that both
amplify and attenuate cognitive capacities and their
I/O channels. As a society, today, we tend to focus
on tools that amplify and call that augmentation.
Be stronger, bigger, faster... for longer periods
of time. This, however, defies the law of requisite
variety. Our entire civilization can be characterized
as an ever increasing stampede of positive feedback
loops - a growing instability.
can Augmentation Tools be Created?
argue that true augmentation tools cannot be created
in the “simple” way of other tools. The intimacy
to the user and the complexity of the interactions
preclude this. By circumstance, augmentation tools
are based on affinity, association, connection
and emergence - they are based on and embedded
in network architectures. They support nonlinear
behavior. To attempt to develop them and use them
in a directly causal, linear and isolated way is
to merely amplify some aspect of an integrated
and whole process.
avoid unintended consequences, augmentation tools
have to be developed in the environment in which
the are going to be used and the end user has
to be an integral part of the development process.
This requires several iterations as both the user
and the environment will be changed in the process;
it is a heuristic process and the result is emergent.
These requirements, imposed by the nature of the
task and rarely met, explain why so many attempts
at augmentation, thus far, have failed. The tool
has to come, organically, of the environment
it is to succeed in. As augmentation tools become
more sophisticated and “alive,” they
will have to be “grown” and evolve
much the way a human is born and learns.
can Augmentation Tools be Scaled?
issue of scale cannot be confused with proliferation.
Making more of something until every one has one
is not necessarily taking the tool to it’s
next level of scale. In fact, just to
do this usually greatly amplifies variety on that
scale causing many unintended consequences.
properly scale a tool means to bring it into harmony
with the level of recursion in question. How e-mail
works among a tight network of individuals and
how it works in a world of connected millions and
rampant junk mail are two entirely different things.
The tool, which can be very effective on one level
and become a distraction and consumer of time on
the other. This is but a simple example. It can
be pointed out, however, that the conceptual base
of the e-mail tool has not changed - it is applied
(actually misapplied) the same in both circumstances.
Added on features are a poor attempt to fix unwanted
an inadequate response. As processes and tools
are scaled, their structure has to be
transformed - their work process has to adapt.
and Requisite Variety
the beginning days of Cybernetics, requisite
variety [link] has
been a key concept. Ross Ashby raised it in
Cybernetics (1952) and Beer, in Designing
Freedom (1985), making it a keystone issue
in his application
of business and government enterprises. Basically,
there are several important aspects of requisite
to the issue of augmentation: that little v cannot
deal with big V - greater variety will
“win;” that in an issue of variety
mismatch, there are two choices - the greater variety
can be attenuated
and/or the smaller variety can be amplified; that
the part of a system that changes the most will control
the system - having greater variety.
the Taylor System and Method, it is the crafting [link] of
the Zone of Emergence where the variety
equation is balanced and dealt with and that multiple
levels of recursion and multiple iteration of
work [link] have to be
a contiguous experience in order to consistently
achieve disciplined and open-ended
emergent results. As far as I know, in the realm
of creative group process, this is the only formal
method that “answers” the variety
raise by Ashby and Beer.
tools greatly amplify human endeavors; cybernetic
tools do so to a much greater degree. However,
both also radically increase variety in the network
in which they are employed. If the tools are used
improperly, the variety equation is not necessarily
tools will be designed to both amplify and attenuate
in a way that best serves human users in the task
that they are employed in moment-to-moment. Augmentation
Networks will do the same for communities and,
|A NavCenter’s 5th Domain provides the tooling
and work protocols necessary to achieve requisite variety with ValueWeb members and the issues they are addressing.
can no longer solve their problems, let alone prosper,
by concentrating on that which is only within their
legal and physical “skin.” They have
to creatively interact with and engage in real
total Valueweb [link].
Networks of NavCenters - sharing nonproprietary
information and methods - will further scale this
effort. By these means, not only issues local to
a given enterprise can be gracefully dissolved
so can those things requiring design on the greater
scale of the larger human enterprise.
combining individual scale and group scale knowledge
augmentation tools with work
processes and by effectively linking center-to-center
RemoteCollaboration employing PatchWorks
NavCenters can become a social tool capable of
facilitating many of the systemic
problems [link] we
now face as a society.
provide an environment and meta-process so that
a wide variety of otherwise isolated tools and
processes can become integrated and configured
in a way that
the graceful transformation of old constructs (mental,
social, physical) into useful systemic (action
on the system as a system) actions. As such, NavCenters
are ideal environments to study augmentation, build
augmentation capabilities and prototype them. A
network of NavCenters, outfitted with augmentation
tools, can provide a means for dealing with complex,
large-scale social issues. By employing new work
processes, and as neutral places, they can avoid
the distortions inherent
in the existing
societal tool kit of power-meetings, conferences,
agencies, governments and summits.
Ethics of Augmentation
society’s present quarter-to quarter and
immediate market fixation may be impeding the progress
to true and robust augmentation, but there is no
question we will get there sooner or later. Of
greater concern is if we, as a society, will be
industrial society successfully “augmented,” wholesale,
most of western societies’ 17th and 18th
assumptions and attitudes. The result has been
a sorry mixture
of greatness and real human gain along with a sea
of blood, exploitation on a scale inconceivable
and a growing
ecological disaster of possible catastrophic proportions.
I put augmented in quotes here because
Doug Englebart will make the case that what was
done was not augmentation - amplification
perhaps; certainly exploitation and exaggeration.
said that a human-made tool is a specialization
and extensions of a natural metabolic capability.
Cupped hands become a clay cup; a fist become a
forged hammer. He said that there are two classes
of tools: craft and industrial. A craft tool is
one a single human can conceive of, make and use.
An industrial tool is one that it takes an organized
society to do so. A hammer (although now mass produced)
is a craft tool, The Queen Mary is an industrial
tool. All tools amplify and extend human’s
ability. Think of the internet, and a global communication
as the extension of your nervous system. True
augmentation tools are special because
they so intimately address that which is the essence
of our humanness: our cognition. I have argued,
for that last 30 years, that one of the deep buried
our times is that, as a species, we have not learned
to properly employ
the tools [link] we
have created and use; and, the more extended and
remote this tool use is, the
the abuse. It is a long way
from your sitting room at night watching television
to a GPS guided ordinance being delivered, in your
name, half a world away.
my definition of “tooling” I include
organization. No tool is neutral - it is the practical
of an embedded idea. If designed correctly it does
what it is designed to do - not just the task,
but the total gestalt of the idea behind it.
each of us choose to use
is a choice.
The tool, the user and the social construct make
a system. Structure
industrial tool kit we have long enjoyed compared
to coming cybernetic augmentation is a match compared
a nuclear bomb.
are not gaining on this situation.
we designed the Taylor System we designed not just
a technical tool but a process tool as
well - a process tool aimed at the facilitation
emergence of Group Genius. In addition, we designed
a system capable of building social/political
It was our belief - and it remains so - that this
approach will minimize the risk of a ramped
run-away technology without human intellect and
jury is still out, of course. Building a ValueWeb
of “NavCenters” with the dna of the mission [link];
doing that at a considerable scale; distributing
globally and in their ownership; these are steps
toward building a socially benign tool kit. This
was the goal 25 years ago. It remains the goal
today. We are beginning to get the global armature [link] in
place. The RDS [link] is
potentially a part of this capacity. What remains
to be seen is what set of circumstances
will give rise to the opportunity to employ this
System and Method on the scale and engaged with
the kinds of issues that is was designed for. It
is significant, that now (August 2003), after over
a quarter of a century of work, the first client
has approached us to build for them the first network
of NavCenters designed to operate as such [link].
This engagement will be a quantum jump for us in
the development and testing of our work.
on the near side of the development continuum,
produces great power; on the far end of possibility
breaking out of the defining limits of what it
presently means to be a human. Our species record
in regards the use of power leaves much to be desired;
we will do with the capability to redefine ourselves
in almost every conceivable way is open to speculation.
This possibility, however, we must now consider
for the time is close upon us. Our behavior has
improved slowly over centuries; fundamental and
be one or a few decades away. Some of the more
reactionary among us advocate simply banning some
of these possibilities (except, of course, for
the development of weapons systems which we all
will never be used wrongly). Technology, once developed
is rarely successfully banned. The use of it can
be partially controlled by different means yet
definitions can remain tricky: chemicals are WMD
- is carpet bombing? Is the use of depleted
uranium [link] in “conventional”
weapons? It will take extended dialog among a
great number of people
long period of time to construct an appropriate
ethical framework for what we are doing now with
our social-industrial power let alone personal,
group and social-scale
augmentation. This will not be accomplished by highly
polarized fights [link] over
one issue at a time after the technology
emerges. We need a consistent, systemic, collaborative
opportunities and risks and implements appropriate
responses before the reality is upon us.
first environment in Boulder was called “The
Anticipatory Management Center.” We used
this name in 1980 to emphasize Bucky Fuller’s
idea of anticipatory design. Our System and Method
was designed to remove
the obstacles that were inherent when groups with
competing interests and perspectives tried to reach
across borders and deal with common systemic issues
and problems. As we have become busy, particularly
in the last 7 years, we have seen more and more
our attention turned to important but shorter range
projects. It seems to me, that our society is less
concerned about long range issues than 25 years
ago. This only short term focus is an invitation
to disaster. Building the conceptual and implementation
tools to facilitate thoughtful transformation is
mission critical to the MG Taylor Enterprise. This
cannot be done without the appropriate 5th Domain.
To fail at this task is to leave the human enterprise
in a chronic trap - a closed loop between intention
and tool kit. There can be no definition of success
for MG Taylor if we allow the present market place
to turn our attention from this aspect of our work
reason to exist as an enterprise. For us, this
is an issue of organizational ethics.
exploration of augmentation tools will produce
discoveries of great power. How these poweres are
used is not a trivial issue. Like all technologies,
there can be unintended consequences as well as
deliberate abuses - there can also be great individual
and social benefits. As these tools are created,
they must be used to explore the ethics and efficacy
own use. Technology changes much faster than exisiting
social systems. This is what makes us
so dangerous as a species. So far we have been dangerous to
animal and plant populations. We have, on many
occasions, been dangerous to members of the human
family who we not on the same level of technology
as some of us. We are becoming dangerous to Gaia.
And, we are becoming dangerous to ourselves. In
order for humans, as a species, to stay requisite
systematic anticipatory design and feeback must
become an intrinsic part of the Design/Build/Use [link] process.
Feedback, of a proper kind, from many recursion
levels and iteration sequences is required if a
is to be free yet benign [link].
April 3, 1999
voice of this document:
ENGINEERING STRATEGY PRELIMINARY
click on graphic for explanation of SolutionBox
April 5, 1999
August 7, 2005
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this document is about 45% finished)
1998, 2003, 2005, 2007 Matt Taylor
aspects of the system described are patented and in patent