Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Feedback Mechanisms

In engineering and systems analysis, negative and positive feedback are essential concepts. Various medical conditions, such as diabetes, are a result of certain metabolic systems lacking the ability to regulate themselves as they typically would. Auto-immune diseases, when the immune system attacks the body's own systems, are likewise signs of something amiss.

Certain machines, by their very natures, require feedback mechanisms. The most advanced aspects of various jet aircraft, for instance, are the controls and avionics. The jet engine moves the plane much faster than humans can possibly hope to react, and thus several control and feedback mechanisms are needed to prevent catastrophic failures.

This is also true in political and economic systems. The theory behinds checks and balances in the Anglo-American tradition were meant to ensure the rule of law was harder to subvert. Likewise, various bills limiting financial speculation and types of banks acted as another firewall. High performance systems with no feedback tend to fail in big ways.

Free speech and rule of law are safeguards against political corruption. These have failed in recent years as politicians continually ignore the wishes of their constituents. Despite the fact that disruptive technologies continue getting smaller and cheaper, they make all the wrong moves. What could possibly go wrong when feedback mechanisms are removed?

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