Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Black Box

In engineering, there is a common entity referred to as "a black box". The black box is an often approximated and always generalized model of a chosen entity. It is composed of 3 fundamental notions;

1) Inputs (S)
2) Inner functioning (I)
3) Outputs (B)

Every entity that can be identified is identified by every mind as a black box wherein the inner functioning is seldom known, often speculated, but usually irrelevant. In electronic circuit design for example, the engineer very often obtains an integrated circuit, IC. The IC is quite literally and physically a small black plastic box with conducting pins sticking out of it. The engineer knows that any particular IC uses some of its pins for input signals and some for output responses. He knows that if he raises the voltage on certain pins, other specific pins will respond by either raising or lowering their voltage in accord with the internal functioning. He most often doesn't care what is actually within the box, how it works or why.

In reality, every mind, no matter how small, is always "thinking" in terms of black boxes. Every object identified whether given a label or not, is inherently categorized as an entity with an expected behavior relating to its stimuli.

Given stimuli "S" and an internal functioning of "I", a behavior of "B" is expected.

B = F{S,I}
Behavior = a Function of Stimuli and Internal responses.
"I choose my Behavior in response to my Situation/Stimuli"

By noting in general terms those 3 qualities, every mind categorizing every object of thought, every word, every sentence, every construct, every action, and every object, endeavors to resolve what behavior to enact. The mind simply can't function without such an inherent model.

When deriving its chosen ontological view of its surroundings, the mind has no alternative but to classify subsets of its surroundings into such black box models commonly referred to as entities, objects, and actions.

Even when any person views another person, to merely identify the person, the mind must utilize the black box concept;

"Person A is that entity which behaves in B manner when given S stimuli."

All psychological categorizing of behavior is codified by such a scheme. All fields of Science utilize the black box concept so as to identify and predict behaviors within each field of study. Of course, people often don't appreciate being thought of as a "mere predictable black box", but the truth is that every mind has no choice but to use such a model if it is to think at all. Unfortunately, societal engineering, requiring generalizing designs, requires generalizing black box categories for all people from which political strategies, psychological media, economic designs are formed. A governing body is itself a black box assigning black box generalizations, rules, and reactions.

Even Life itself is modeled by every mind as "this general entity that generally behaves in this general way when given a general type of stimulation from a general type of situation and I don't know or often care how it works inside."

Every General that shuffles his small models of tanks, planes, and battalions around on his map, every religion or government in dictating its truths, and every philosopher constructing his world-view or perspective, instinctively, naturally, and necessarily assembles his ontology by choosing the black boxes within; the entities that regardless of internal method "I", always behave in "B" manner, given "S" stimuli.

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