Thursday, November 12, 2009

Theory of Finite Effectiveness of Centralized System Control

***The measure of desirable results in social systems is predicated upon the idea that it is not desirable to consider the individual components arbitrarily expendable in serving the goals of the whole system or ensuring the authority of the central controlling unit [modeling human social structure after ants or bees requires the assumption that the individual is of least value and expendable.  Ants do not possess a great deal of individual autonomy or self reliance. They system is designed to protect the queen. The power unit is not in business to protect the sanctity and autonomy of the lowly ant]***

The theory is that there is a point within multi part systems at which centralization yields negative results, and as the degree of centralization increases the integrity of the system breaks down.

This holds true in mechanical systems, and social systems.  

Prior to that point centralized control is effective and beneficial to the survival and sustainability of the whole.

An example would be in the realm of education.  Particularly in formative years in which the individual units (students) are less equipped for prudent autonomy. Large institutions, large classrooms tend to lose effective positive effect on individual units.   There is a point at which size of institution and size of individual classes are most effective in achieving the goal of positive guidance and education to prepare students to be autonomous, productive and capable of reasonable self governance.

Most school systems consist of institutions which are far past the point of diminishing returns and in possibly the majority of cases are below the break even point; negative results.   The oversight and guidelines for the system have also entered that realm as their function has moved from stated purpose of educating to indoctrinating, and care taking, assuming much of the authority which might work best left to family.

Obviously many other factors interact with this.  Systems overlap and influence one another.  The same principle applies to all such that the only effective means of bringing one system into the positive results range, in which each component is left its most effective level of autonomy, is to also bring the other dependent or interactive systems' level of centralization back into that range.

The principle applies to utilities such as power production as well.  To some degree it depends on the method used to produce and transport the power.  The problem with one unit serving too many user points is that any problem with the main unit affects a huge number of delivery points.  It is vulnerable.  

There are also factors of efficiency over large distances, loss through resistance, etc.  Additionally it places the users vulnerable to potential tyranny as any evil doer who gains control of the central point can then in essence extort and exert undesirable control over the users dependent up the product.  

This is where emerging technologies and even long existing technology which makes possible production at the site of the user, or more production points serving fewer users is desirable.  If one of those goes out, fewer parts of the overall system are hurt.  As it is with all these systems of society, achieving the best level of centralization of a utility requires other systems to also move toward that point.

The tendency to rationalize control in the name of morality can result in pushing control past the optimal point.  There is a point at which removing autonomy from the individual, the family, the community, etc., may detrimentally affect the system as a whole, even if it means some of those components do not adhere to that which other components on equal level would choose.  By usurping authority in matters which do not increase a particular unit's ability to exercise self determination, all components can find themselves reducing their own ability to thrive. 

Any of the matters which involve humans have to be predicated upon certain common principles.  Some of these follow the idea that systems all have a point of diminishing positive result when the balance of authority over function moves from the individual components to one controlling unit.  

In military terms, this concept is one of the keys to the success of the US armed services back when wars were defined endeavors with a clear goal.  Our system of chain of command allowed for each unit to have one governing member, whose command was broken into smaller units each with a command.  If any controlling unit, commanding officer was not present or taken out, the next in command was defined and prepared to continue.  Not all forces had this system and once their leader was knocked out, they were thrown into chaos and got their asses kicked.

So, that's the initial idea of my theory.  I think it can probably be refined to a formula, which would definitely contain many variables.  

I believe the problems faced today are largely due to a lack of recognition of the idea that there is an optimal level of centralized control in systems, especially those which are more complex and contain a wide diversity of subsystems.  

Additionally the lack of recognition that there is a point at which subsystems are best served in terms of their ability to be self determinant, even when equal entities may not choose the same path in response to the same stimulus.  As long as their choice does not impede the ability of the other components to operate then the need for higher authority does not exist.  It is only at that point in which control must be moved up in the hierarchy of centralization. 

Often levels are jumped in response to controls which are in place being ignored.  That's primarily in human systems.  An example would be when fraud, and violation of property are not dealt with according to basic laws which have been in place for some time, but instead are regulated from more centralized entities through very specific edicts which do not cover broad principle but very narrow specificities which then leave pathways for further abuse.

It works like electricity; if there is any corruption in the process at the highly centralized level then larger numbers of component parts are affected.  There is a point at which more, smaller, manageable parts can be more effective because the authority and control is closer to the source of the problem, and defects or corruption of a component pose less threat to the whole, and can be more easily traced to the source.

Another example in which over centralization of control has been a disaster is the use of social security number for so many things which have nothing to do with the social security account.  It has become a window for theft and fraud which is very difficult for the victim to correct due to the far reaching web each social security number encompasses.  In the effort to number everyone for the convenience of  control, the security of the individual has actually been compromised.  A case where centralization exceeded the point of positive optimization.

One day maybe this can be more simply stated and formulated.   I believe it to be a principle which holds for any system which requires controlling units, and as the function, size and complexity increase the tendency to exceed the critical point and dip into negative affect on the entire system increases at an accelerated rate.

See, I'm not really an anarchist, although, if one considers the present day system moderate control, or even not enough, then I am anarchist by comparison.

I do think the kernel of this theory is valid.

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