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Ternary Analysis

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Human beings in social systems

The development of computers, expert systems, and other cybernetics-based technology, means that tasks, that used to be done by human beings, will soon be done by the other components in the system. This fact raises several fundamental questions:

1.     How do you analyse human institutions and systems into those parts which ought to be replaced, and those parts which ought to be left with the humans?

2.     What sorts of tasks can artefacts do better than humans can, and what sorts of tasks can humans do better?

3.     Will the dividing line between the two always be in the same place, or will artefacts gradually be able take over more and more of the work?

4.     If so, is there any theoretical limit to what human work artefacts could take over, or collaborate in? If there is such a theoretical limit, then what is it?

Definition of a social system in Ternary Analysis

In Ternary Analysis, work is defined as justified intervention. Any system is in free fall, and intervention is justified if the new free fall thereby achieved is, by some criterion, better than the original.

In this diagram, the nudge given to the ball causes it to fall into B, instead of A, and B is in some sense better than A.


Figure button   Free fall and intervention


Businesses, corporations, and most other social systems, can be said to be machines for working in. That is to say, they are mechanisms to house and to facilitate justified intervenient activity.

Generally speaking, the place of the human beings as components in an organisation is to act as links between the other, non-human, components.

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© Copyright D J Stewart 1999, 2003. All rights reserved.

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