Art Collings’ Statement of Interest

My interest in cybernetics lies on the mathematical side. As I have been slowly reading classics in the field, Shannon’s “noisy channel” concept seems obvious preparation for a Listening Conference. Regarding this theme, I bring the question whether Listening should be regarded as a good in itself, or rather a tactic. I know arguments for both positions. Certainly, I like to listen, especially to others who skillfully articulate difficult and intriguing ideas. And surely, the world will be better when people listen to each other more. But somehow I am wary about the urge to beatify the concept. Listening (obviously) is essential to the widest range of human acts. And, listening – physiologically – is a whole body process (not just ears) that evokes vast ranges of response. But listening is also the most treacherous of activities – in accord with it’s second definition (“to obey”). Listening becomes entrainment, surrender to influence, obedience. Variety killing variety I suppose, but at some point I prefer argument, discord, and noise.

More than likely, though, if I speak to you at the conference, it will be about some completely different topic. One mathematical topic, that I may be inclined to speak about is the 4-value logic I have been working on for some time. After the loss of much hair, I finally proved the completeness theorem for this logic. The reason this logic is (may be) of interest is that it contains provable statements that can’t be established from the postulates/axioms/initials of regular propositional logic / boolean algebra. In other respects I am not aware of any direct application for this logic (such as to cybernetics), which makes it in some sense an abstraction.

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