A machine whose behavior may change in a non-predictable way.
H.von FOERSTER states: "The great difference between trivial and non-trivial machines consists in that these latter depend of their internal conditions at different moments, which themselves have been influenced by former operations" (1992, p.62).
According to von FOERSTER, non-trivial machines are:
- globally determined
- analytically undeterminable
- depending on their past
In most recent terms, they are ergodic, or downright chaotic.
von FOERSTER also writes: "(Non-trivial machines) input-output relationship is not invariant, but is determined by the machine's previous output. In other words, its previous steps determine its present reactions. While these machines are again deterministic systems, for all practical reasons they are unpredictable: an output once observed for a given input will most likely be not the same for the same input given later" (1981, p.201).
This description corresponds to evolving and in some measure to adapting systems and to deterministic chaos.
Applying the triviality concept to living systems, von FOERSTER states: "Instead of searching for mechanisms in the environment that turn organisms into trivial machines, we have to find the mechanisms within the organisms that enable them to turn their environment into a trivial machine" (1981, p.171).
There seems to be a kind of trade-off between organized systems and their environment. Complexity of the first tends to trivialize the second. This seems related to the 2d Principle of thermodynamics and the increasing entropy emission by complex systems into their environment.
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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