Cover Page      Call for a New Notation   Author: Jeffrey G. Long (jefflong@aol.com) Date: June 30, 1993 Forum: Talk prese...
Submitted for the                                 World Future Society                               Seventh General Assem...
comprehend and control complex systems such as medicine, economics,       ecology, and big business.Key questions the list...
Call for a New NotationCreating the Future through New Ways of Seeing               Jeffrey G. Long              voice: (2...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 1: Cover PageI appreciate this chance to share so...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation                                                      (...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 2: LettersThe things that are in the "real world"...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation8. Thus the SCOPE of what could be represented was grea...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation                                                       ...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 3: Dollars1. This is a little different slide, sh...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation          C. scarce          D. portable (at least not ...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notationdenominator that could be used in any commercial activi...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notationo         Represent a New Ontological Inventiono       ...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 4: Desiderata for a New NotationIf we were to try...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation                                       Surface Structur...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 5: The World as ProcessSo how can we look differe...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation            Complex            System                  ...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 6: New Ontological Invention: Ruleforms1. So lets...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationTo abstract to a higher level, we must focus on RULES, ...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation       The perceived structures and behaviors of any sy...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 7: The Ruleform HypothesisAnother way to state th...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation                                                  Summa...
World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 8: Summary1. Limitations of notations.2. Complexi...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Call for a new notation

783

Published on

June 30, 1993: "Call for a New Notation: Creating the Future through New Ways of Seeing" Presented at the World Future Society Seventh General Assembly, sponsored by the World Future Society.

Published in: Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
783
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
9
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Transcript of "Call for a new notation"

  1. 1. Cover Page   Call for a New Notation   Author: Jeffrey G. Long (jefflong@aol.com) Date: June 30, 1993 Forum: Talk presented at the World Future Society Seventh General Assembly, sponsored by the World Future Society.   Contents Page 1: Proposal and Bio Pages 3‐22: Slides intermixed with text for presentation   License This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by‐nc/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.  Uploaded June 19, 2011 
  2. 2. Submitted for the World Future Society Seventh General Assembly June 1993 Call for a New Notation Jeffrey G. Long 133-1/2 11th Street, S.E. Washington, DC 20003 (202) 547-0268This 20-minute presentation will be followed by a 10-minute audiencequestion-and-answer period. The presentation will discuss the nature ofnotation in general, and revolutionary notations in particular, throughanalysis of the progress of three major notational systems: the switch from pictograms to phonograms to alphabetic notation the switch from tallies to Roman numerals to Arabic numerals the switch from neumatic musical notation to staff musical notationFrom this historical data the presentation will offer several hypothesesregarding the nature of notational systems and their evolution in general,including: the distinction between notational evolution and revolution the nature of notation revolution: "ontological invention" the nature of the "complexity barrier" that eventually forces creation of new notations necessary and sufficient characteristics for a new notation.Key conclusions of the talk will include the following: notational systems do not merely represent certain abstractions, they invent them; notational systems are intellectual toolsets that society creates to empower it in dealing with increasingly complex entities we declare the existence of letter, number, note, and money as a result of notational revolutions that are really intellectual revolutions with broad social consequences. our society must develop a revolutionary new notational system, probably focused on representing complex "rules", if it is ever to
  3. 3. comprehend and control complex systems such as medicine, economics, ecology, and big business.Key questions the listener might consider in advance include: what do I think of the importance of notation? in what sense do letters, numbers, musical notes, and dollars "exist"? does society already have all the notations it needs for science, or might new ones be necessary? Brief Biography: Jeffrey G. LongJeff Long graduated with an honors A.B. degree in psychology from U.C.Berkeley in 1973, after 1 year. While writing his honors thesis on neuralnetworks he concluded that there was no adequate analytical tool available toever understand complex systems such as the brain.In 1975 Jeff founded the Institute for Advanced Systems Research, a non-profit organization. Unable to secure adequate funding, he worked forseveral large firms as a software systems designer, ending up here inWashington DC with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, consulting for the Air Forceand Department of Energy.In 1980 Jeff started a for-profit corporation, called IntellinomicsCorporation, to pursue complex systems research. He is now winding up thatbusiness in order to spend full time on research and writing here inWashington at the Library of Congress.Jeff has been working for a number of years on a book describing the historyand philosophy of ten major notational systems; proposing a philosophy ofnotational technology; describing his proposed new notation for representingthe thousands of complex rules of complex systems; and on applying thatnotation to ten different types of complex system. His work can be summedup in his motto, "The notation is the limitation". letter: 133-1/2 11th Street, S.E., Washington, DC 20003 e-mail: JeffLong@AOL.COM voice: (202) 547-0268
  4. 4. Call for a New NotationCreating the Future through New Ways of Seeing Jeffrey G. Long voice: (202) 547-0268 e-mail: JeffLong@AOL.COMletter: POB 15577, Washington, DC 20003-0577 Presented to the World Futue Society Seventh General Assembly June 30, 1993
  5. 5. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 1: Cover PageI appreciate this chance to share some ideas with you.Ive been interested for 20 years now in developing a new way to understandcomplex systems, because I think mathematics and our other primarynotational systems have severe fundamental limitations in what they canrepresent.Ive concluded from my work to date that the NOTATION we use is thelimitation on our ability to understand the world around us.This evening I hope to demonstrate WHY I believe that, through twoexamples that contrast notational EVOLUTION with notationalREVOLUTION. I would then like to sketch a new way of looking at complexsystems, and a new notation Ive been working on. Im not saying that this isTHE RIGHT approach, but it is ONE approach.I understand that most people think notation is irrelevant. Looking at thedictionary definition, its easy to see why they feel this way.ONE dictionary defines notation as "The use of a system of signs or symbolsto represent words, phrases, numbers, quantities, etc."Notation is thus mere ABBREVIATION; key concepts exist OUTSIDE thenotation, in LANGUAGE. I hope to persuade you to consider the possibilitythat notation is very different than language, and that it can express conceptsthat are INEFFABLE in common language. The notation is the limitation.This is work-in-progress, not final conclusions. I still have a long way to go.If want to talk more, please contact me as shown on the slide. Page 4 of 22
  6. 6. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation (Ideogram) (Phonogram) spoken word: written word: MAN "M - A - N"New Ontological Invention: Letters Page 5 of 22
  7. 7. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 2: LettersThe things that are in the "real world" are shown without boxes, while theONTOLOGICAL INVENTIONS (i.e. NOTATIONS) are in rounded-edgeboxes.We could spend a lot of time debating dates, but the dates are not asimportant as the precedence sequence1. In writing, theres something in the "real world" that we want to represent,such as this man.2. First generation was PICTOGRAMS that represented by ANALOGY(circa 3400 BC).3. These evolved to be able to represent ideas and actions through the use ofIDEOGRAMS (where ideas are communicated through clever combinationsof symbols) and PHONOGRAMS (where concepts are hinted at by symbolsthat represent something that evokes a particular sound) (circa 2800 BC).4. This worked pretty well in ancient society, but eventually they hit theCOMPLEXITY BARRIER: several thousand symbols are needed to conveythe concepts of even an ancient culture.5. Continuing on that path of adding new symbols or simplifying existingsymbols would have been fruitless: you can imagine what a Shakespeare playmight be like if every symbol was subject to personal interpretation. Further,the printing press, originally invented by the Chinese long before the westernworld had it, was useless when there were thousands of symbols to deal withand low print volumes were required.6. The Revolution occurred when someone noticed that there were a limitednumber of SOUNDS we make in human speech, and they designedSYMBOLS to represent those SOUNDS (first alphabet, circa 1500 BC).7. With this new approach, and after the invention of vowels by the Greeks(circa 776 BC), we were able to represent the >50,000 words known by theaverage adult with only 26 letters. Page 6 of 22
  8. 8. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation8. Thus the SCOPE of what could be represented was greatly increased,while the NUMBER of SYMBOLS greatly decreased. This is a classicnotational revolution.9. But it required that we create a new entity in the world: LETTERS.WRITING is a notational SYSTEM built upon LETTERS as NOTATIONS,and it defines a number of RULES regarding the proper use of this notation.10. As the result of this ontological invention, society was able to create acollective memory that superseded the fragile memory of the oral traditionthat preceded it. This was, literally, the beginning of "history". Page 7 of 22
  9. 9. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation Salt $20 ATTRIBUTES: companionship food (value) Twenty Dollars Pay to the order of:New Ontological Invention: Dollars Page 8 of 22
  10. 10. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 3: Dollars1. This is a little different slide, showing the PRE-NOTATIONAL situation atthe top. If you want to trade your duck for my cat, we may agree on aBARTER arrangement. A duck and a cat are roughly commensurable,partly because theyre both animals and they both have some real andobvious values to somebody; so it is fairly easy to make that trade. But as youoffer things that are less and less commensurable, it gets harder to make atrade.2. The first generation of notation was COMMODITY MONEY thatrepresented a certain REAL (i.e. practical) VALUE by ANALOGY.Examples include cattle and salt.3. Like all notations, commodity money evolved over time.4. But eventually it hit a COMPLEXITY BARRIER: these items wereawkward to divide and/or measure, perishable, and inconvenient logistically.Sometimes one had to trade with a third person to make a deal happen(explain). Commerce was still very difficult, and the more complex aneconomy got the more problems were caused by commodity money.5. Continuing on that path would have been fruitless: we can hardly imaginewhat the New York Stock Exchange or our economy in general might be likeif every transaction was paid for by weighing salt or some other physicalcommodity.6. The Revolution occurred when someone noticed that VALUE could existINDEPENDENTLY of any object, by COMMON CONSENT. They set outto designate arbitrary objects as commonly accepted SYMBOLS ofDECLARED VALUE. The intrinsic PRACTICAL VALUE of these objectswas nowhere near their DECLARED VALUE, and was often basically zero.Examples include cowrie seashells, wampum beads, gold and silver. The onlycriteria for symbols was that the objects be: A. known to many people B. recognizable in value Page 9 of 22
  11. 11. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation C. scarce D. portable (at least not too bulky) E. physically stable over time (preferably imperishable) F. easily sub-divided.7. Eventually, precious metals won this contest. But those tokens of valuewere subject to dilution, counterfeiting, unfair scales, and other problems, sothey evolved into other equally value-less forms. TRANSFERRABLERECEIPTS were used in the Middle Ages, and then FIDUCIARY MONEYwas used in the West circa 1676.From 1825 through 1875 in the United States there was a major politicaldebate between the "paper money men" and the "gold bugs" about howabstract value should be represented in America. America ended up beingthe birthplace of widespread use of paper money in the Western world. Thispaper money was backed by gold, an equally worthless commodity.Eventually we ended up with FIAT MONEY (circa 1934), not based on thegold standard, to enable governments to print money as desired,independently of their actual gold reserves. and thereby control aspects oftheir economy through monetary policy.8. Thus VALUE-IN-THE-ABSTRACT came to be REAL, and could betraded like a real duck for my cat. Since in principle anything could betraded for this symbol, the BREADTH of what could be readily traded wasgreatly increased, and this EASE OF USE encouraged more commercialactivity. Once governments understood the power of this notation, theyregulated it and then completely took it over so THEY could control its abuse.9. Again we created a new entity in the world: DOLLARS (or theirequivalent). ACCOUNTING, the notational SYSTEM built upon DOLLARSas notations, provides rules for the proper use of this notation.10. As the result of this ontological invention, society was able to divide workmore readily into specialized categories, for there was now a common Page 10 of 22
  12. 12. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notationdenominator that could be used in any commercial activity. This was thebeginning of "commerce" as we know it today. Page 11 of 22
  13. 13. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notationo Represent a New Ontological Inventiono Far Richer Capacity to Represent or Express Ideaso Reasonable Ease of Learning & Use (years okay)o Better Utilize a New Medium: Computerso Permit a More Powerful CalculusDesiderata for a New Notation Page 12 of 22
  14. 14. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 4: Desiderata for a New NotationIf we were to try to deliberately create a notational revolution -- lets say toissue an RFP -- what criteria might we use?1. The FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT of a revolutionary notation isthat it represent something different and more BASIC about the subjectdomain than the existing notations it is designed to supersede.2. Obviously the new notation must represent a superset, not a subset, of thetarget domain of the existing notation,3. There has to be reasonable ease of learning and using the notation,although a lengthy "literacy" curve would not be at all unreasonable.4. We might also want to re-examine the media available to us, to seewhether a new notation could utilize a new medium.5. Finally, if it is a domain where computations would be useful (such ascomplex systems theory), we will want a greatly extended computationalability as the result of a new notation. Page 13 of 22
  15. 15. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation Surface StructureBehavior& Structure Animation ProceduresRules Middle StructureRuleforms Deep StructureThe World as Process Page 14 of 22
  16. 16. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 5: The World as ProcessSo how can we look differently at the world, and in particular at COMPLEXSYSTEMS?I suggest that what we see is simply the appearance of systems...In other words, we can define the world as a PROCESS having differentontological LEVELS:First, there is the structure, appearance and behavior of a system, that we willcall SURFACE STRUCTURE.Next, the essence of this complexity can be captured by RULES having anIF...THEN format. Defining phenomena in a compressed manner via RULESis the principal activity of science, developed by the Greeks.This activity will result in tens of thousands of seemingly varied rules, calledthe MIDDLE STRUCTURE.These can be grouped by format into ruleFORMS, the collection of which iscalled DEEP STRUCTURE. Thus the DEEP STRUCTURE of any systemwill be a set of 10-50 ruleforms will represent any particular complex system.By representing these ruleforms as TABLES in a relational database, and therules as RECORDS in the tables, we can implement complex system modelsin a very concise manner. Page 15 of 22
  17. 17. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation Complex System Complex Behavior & Structures d = 1/2 g t 2 Rules RuleformsNew Ontological Invention: Ruleforms Page 16 of 22
  18. 18. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 6: New Ontological Invention: Ruleforms1. So lets look at our basic model of notational evolution. Again, theressomething in the "real world" that we want to represent, namely a complexsystem (e.g. an ecosystem). The pre-notational situation was that we coulddescribe the structure, behavior, inputs or outputs of a complex system inNATURAL LANGUAGE.2. The first generation of notation was graphical and quantitative, e.g. E-RDIAGRAMS or MATHEMATICAL FORMULAS. These represented byANALOGY the OUTPUT of the system.3. These evolved, but eventually hit a COMPLEXITY BARRIER: somehow,pressure/temperature functions or economic elasticity curves have failed todescribe the behavior of weather and economies. I suggest that this is becausethey focus upon and represent the wrong ASPECT of systems, primarily theirBEHAVIOR. They are DESCRIPTIVE, not PRESCRIPTIVE, in nature.5. Continuing on that path, we could enhance our ability to describe systemoutputs and behaviors by getting bigger computers and more facts. But sometheorists have postulated that many systems are UNKNOWABLE due toeither:o sensitive dependency on initial conditions,o the existence of free will in systems involving humans, oro intrinsic quantum randomness at the lowest levels of physical systems.6. If there is to be a revolution in this area, it will require that we representsome OTHER aspect of complex systems than their input, processes andoutput; namely RULES. Currently we can represent "rules" as:o procedural computer codeo symbolic logic statementso English statements (e.g. law)o mathematical formulas.But that still leaves us with too much complexity to really understand thesystems we are dealing with. Simply representing RULES is not ENOUGH. Page 17 of 22
  19. 19. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationTo abstract to a higher level, we must focus on RULES, but notice that thereare COMMONALITIES in the FORMAT of the rules in complex systems.Thus many instances of rules may have the same form but different content.Each such "set of all rules having the same form" can be represented by asimple relational table. Thus the next level of abstraction is the idea ofRULEFORMS, wherein all rules having the same FORMAT are groupedtogether.7. With this focus on ruleFORMS rather than mere RULES, we may be ableto represent seemingly complex systems, with tens of thousands of rules, usingjust a few basic relational database tables. These will be implemented on thatwonderful new N-dimensional MEDIUM called the COMPUTER.8. Thus we can SPECIFY rules better (more explicitly and rigorously), andalso perform sophisticated COMPUTATIONS easily, using a commonruleform notation for any kind of complex system.9. But this will require that we deal with a new entity in the world:RULEFORMS. ULTRA-STRUCTURE is a notational SYSTEM built uponRULEFORMS, and it defines a number of conventions regarding the properuse of this ontological invention. Page 18 of 22
  20. 20. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation The perceived structures and behaviors of any system are artifacts of "animation procedures" executing "operating rules." These operating rules can be grouped into a small number of classes whose format is described by "ruleforms". While the operating rules of a system may change over time, the ruleforms are constant. Ruleforms anticipate all logically possible operating rules that might apply to a subject domain and constitute the deep structure of that domain.The Ruleform Hypothesis Page 19 of 22
  21. 21. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 7: The Ruleform HypothesisAnother way to state this is what I call the RULEFORM HYPOTHESIS:"The perceived STRUCTURES and BEHAVIOR of any system areARTIFACTS of animation procedures executing operating rules.These operating rules can be grouped into a small number of classes whoseformat is described by ruleforms.While the operating RULES of a system may CHANGE over time, theRULEFORMS are CONSTANT. Ruleforms anticipate all logically possibleoperating rules that might apply to the system and constitute the deepstructure of a system." Page 20 of 22
  22. 22. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New Notation Summary1. There are limitations to what any notation can express, based on what domain that notation was designed to represent and consequently what abstractions it embodies. This is true even for the "Language of Science", mathematics. A key factor in the evolution of society is the introduction and fulfillment of revolutionary new notational systems such as the calendar, writing, mathematics, and money.2 Our society currently faces a complexity barrier in dealing with complex systems such as medicine, ecology, economics, and public policy. But complexity is in the eye of the beholder and can be eliminated by an appropriate notation based upon a new ontological invention. Larger computers, more data, and more money will not overcome this complexity barrier. We need a new way of seeing complexity.3. We need to develop at least one wholly new notation, using distinctions far beyond fractals or other fundamentally quantitative constructs. Ultra-Structure is one example of a new notation (but not the only one or even the best one) which would permit a new science to study rules per se, compressing them into simple common forms to permit a deeper understanding of the ontology of various complex systems domains. For further information or discussion, please contact Jeff Long at (202) 547-0268, or via Internet: JeffLong@AOL.COM. Page 21 of 22
  23. 23. World Future Society Congress [30 June 1993]Call for a New NotationSlide 8: Summary1. Limitations of notations.2. Complexity barrier exists now.3. Need a new notation for rules OR some other basic new abstraction.Thank you for your attention. My card is available up hereon the table.Are there any questions or comments? Page 22 of 22

×