Publication 2534

Cariani P. (2011) The semiotics of cybernetic percept-action systems. International Journal of Signs and Semiotic Systems 1(1): 1–17. Fulltext at
In this paper, a semiotic framework for natural and artificial adaptive percept-action systems is presented. The functional organizations and operational structures of percept-action systems with different degrees of adaptivity and self-construction are considered in terms of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic relations. Operational systems-theoretic criteria for distinguishing semiotic, sign-systems from nonsemiotic physical systems are proposed. A system is semiotic if a set of functional sign-states can be identified, such that the system’s behavior can be effectively described in terms of operations on sign-types. Semiotic relations involved in the operational structure of the observer are outlined and illustrated using the Hertzian commutation diagram. Percept-action systems are observers endowed with effectors that permit them to act on their surrounds. Percept-action systems consist of sensors, effectors, and a coordinative part that determines which actions will be taken. Cybernetic systems adaptively steer behavior by altering percept-action mappings contingent on evaluated performance measures via embedded goals. Self-constructing cybernetic systems use signs to direct the physical construction of all parts of the system to create new syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic relations. When a system gains the ability to construct its material hardware and choose its semiotic relations, it achieves a degree of epistemic autonomy, semantic closure, and pragmatic self-direction.


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