Gaia, Control Theory and the soft side of engineering

G'day from a newbie Aussie.

From an article in the Independent:

Why Gaia is wreaking revenge on our abuse of the environment By Michael McCarthy Published: 16 January 2006

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...James Lovelock, the celebrated environmental scientist, has a unique perspective on the fate of the Earth. Thirty years ago he conceived the idea that the planet was special in a way no one had ever considered before: that it regulated itself, chemically and atmospherically, to keep itself fit for life, as if it were a great super-organism; as if, in fact, it were alive.

The complex mechanism he put forward for this might have remained in the pages of arcane geophysical journals had he continued to refer to it as "the biocybernetic universal system tendency".


Professor Lovelock's unique viewpoint is that he is just not looking at this or that aspect of the Earth's climate, as are other scientists; he is looking at the whole planet in terms of a different discipline, control theory.

"Most scientists are not trained in control theory. They follow Descartes, and they think that everything can be explained if you take it down to its atoms, and then build it up again.

"Control theory looks at it in a very different way. You look at whole systems and how do they work. Gaia is very much about control theory. And that's why I spot all these positive feedbacks."

I'd be interested to hear from/about Control Engineers who are working at the "soft" end (ie away from the strong maths) of systems.

I'm a control engineer (some might say ex control engineer) working in IT/business systems. IMHO Control Engineering/Theory is applicable to any process/system but is generally not.

Where do I go to find control engineers working on the soft side?

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Gaia is only wreaking revenge for the simple reason that Gaia-ists barely even quality as mobile ice-cubes, nevermind scientists or engineers.

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