Did I Mention That I'm Crazy?
July 13, 2007 by Bryon Powell · Leave a Comment
Ok, what follows is a stream off consciousness response to Loomis‘s comment in response to my previous post regarding the application of the conception of proprioception to a bipedal robot:
[I'd love to think about this and clean it up some, but that ain't likely gonna happen]
I thought you’d appreciate the article. This morning the article got me thinking about another conversation we had in Hawaii. (I now realize that’s where we talked of proprioception.) We brainstormed some ideas for making running and running related activities as career.
Well this article got me thinkinGee, what if rather than working to apply our ideas to running, we applied the ideas of running to other areas. You know, think out side the box. Bring seemingly completely unrelated subjects together with the ridiculously effective and efficient systems of the human body? In the environmental law journals that I occasionally read, I’ve read of the concept of biological systems engineering (or something like that), where manufacturing process designs mimic those in nature. The mimicry is not necessarily a step-by-step mimicry, but recycling of unused inputs and seemingly extraneous outputs (whether benign or “waste”).
What got my mind racing this morning was not the idea of actually copying our physical or chemical reactions, but stepping back a step and observing our systems more broadly and then seeing if the conceptual framework of those systems has potential applicability to human interaction, production, distribution, or whatever. It’s genius that the runbot scientists stepped back and said, the whole central CPU for a walking robot isn’t working out so well.. let’s see what the body does. (I’m assuming that this was their thought process.)
The idea that first popped into my mind was distribution systems. Isn’t it amazing is it the way our bodies produce, store, redistribute, and then utilize glycogen…. and how applicable might that be to supply chain management. What if Walmart or another company that incrementally tweaks its supply chain management took a giant step back and look at the system more broadly. What is there are lessons to be learned about when to signal shipping? (how low to let warehouse stock get?) Who should request resupply? (the cell/retail store or the glycogen store/warehouse) Who decides whether to ship more product to the store and to the warehouse? (can the warehouse or CEO object and, if so, how?) I think you get the idea. Ok, so I’m just going crazy.
BUT(!), while new products and services come along and are good and all, new systems and organization have the potential to revolutionize all products and services. Isn’t this the information age? Isn’t it all about how you collect, analyze, and apply data? The body’s is pretty good at that as we both know through ultrarunning.”
Preemptive clarification: Ok, so I guess the cat is out of the bag that I’m crazy, but I mean to clarify the way that I’m crazy. There’s no denying that I’m fascinated by systems, procedures, and the like, but I’m not overly ordered to the point of suffering a disorder . In fact, part of the thoughtstorm that’s been in my mind of late is the concept of effective unmanaged systems.. that is systems that are systems, but not ones with a global, extremely structured set of rules or a central decision maker. Rather, swarm behavior and group intelligence have got my goat. This proprioceptive programming strikes me as being in the same conceptual family – each remote outpost (feet, knees, hips, arms(?), etc) autonomously makes hardwired responses irrespective of those of the other outposts yet the system as a whole works pretty well.
Only tangentially related addendum: I am fascinated by the world around me… and I hope it’s always this way. I also love it when the flywheel in my brain starts to spin up, as my crazy ideas provide me with plenty of entertainment…. now, it’s only a matter of time until they start wandering to the evolution of religion and social norms.. ha, and this time around I’ll get to throw in analysis of whether and to what degree these social aspects are autonomous both in their evolution and application. Wee…. it’s like I’m flying. ;-) Time for me to end this comically off-topic post and go eat some Indian.