Self-regulation vs Automatic regulation

Article
 
 Editor
Al-Hadithi, Basil Mohammed basil61@gmail.com
 Incorporated contributions
Al Hadithi (10/03/2010)
Díaz Nafria (09/01/2009)
 Usage domain
System Theory, Cybernetics, Control Theory
 Type
concept
 French
autorégulation
 German Selbstregelung
 

Contents

  1. The semantic field of self-regulation
  2. Brief history of automatic regulation
  3. Industrial automation
  4. Social regulation of automation

1. The semantic field of self-regulation


Self-regulation (or automatic regulation) is used in systems theory and cybernetics in the sense of homeostasis (→feedback), namely the capacity of a system to maintain itself in a balanced situation


In this sense the term is very commonly used in psychology, though not in the meaning of "automatic regulation", but as "regulation of the self", also named self-control (i.e. the ability to control one´s emotions, desires or actions by one's own will). Since automatic is used in a sense of acting without volition or conscious control, there is a certain semantic opposition between the psychological meaning of "self-regulation" or "self-control", on one hand, and "automatic regulation" or "automatic control", on the other hand.
 
Automatic regulation, also used in the sense of an autonomous maintenance of a balanced situation, is mainly found in the field of electronic systems and control engineering (→control theory).

2. Brief history of automatic regulation

The concept of automated machines goes back to ancient times, related to myths of living mechanical beings. Automata, or machines like people, appeared in clocks of medieval churches, being 18th century watchmakers well-known for their smart mechanical creatures.


Some of the first automata utilized feedback mechanisms to reduce errors, mechanisms that are still used nowadays. Among the first devices of automatic control registered in the literature, we found in Heron's Pneumatica (c.150 b.C.) a control for the liquid level in a tank which is similar to what is currently used in toilette's tanks. The Greek-Byzantine tradition -symbolised by Hero and the School of Alexandria- was developed in the Islamic world, going significantly beyond (Rashed & Morelon 1996). Some relevant automatic regulated systems can be found in the literature, for instance, from the inventor and scientist Al-Jazari (c.1206), whose water clocks represent a distinguished evolution of Hero's level control, or the Andalusian engineer Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi, who invented segmental and epicyclic gears employed in clocks. These developments influenced in Christian Middle Ages, where some relevant inventors, who sometimes had to hide their artefacts, might be considered as predecessors of automation, as Albertus Magnus, Pierre de Maricourt or Roger Bacon (Bacon 1859).


However, there was a lack of theoretical and mathematical development behind all these inventions. The first work of what can be called a classical control theory is to be found in a significant work concerning the centrifugal gobernor of Boulton and Watt designed in 1788 (Rumford 1798). This device consisted of two metal balls attached to the drive shaft of a steam engine and connected to a valve regulating the flow of steam. As the speed of the steam engine is increased, the balls are moving out of the shaft because of centrifugal force, thereby closing the valve. This caused a decline in the flow of steam to the engine and therefore the speed will be reduced.

3. Industrial Automation

The feedback control, the development of specialized tools and distribution of work into smaller tasks that workers or machines might handle, were essential ingredients in the automation of industry in the eighteenth century. As technology improved, specialized machines were developed for tasks such as putting caps on bottles or pour liquid into molds for rubber tires. However, none of these machines have the versatility and efficiency of the human arm and could not reach distant objects and place them in the required position.

An automated manufacturing system is designed to use the capacity of machines to perform certain tasks previously tackled by humans, and to control the sequence of operations without human intervention. The term automation has also been used to describe non-manufacturing systems in which programmed or automated devices can operate independently or semi-independently of human control. In communications, aviation and astronautics, devices such as automatic telephone switching equipment, autopilots, and automated systems guidance and control are used to perform different tasks faster or better than human beings.

4. Social regulation of automation

Following an uncritical dominant concept of social progress, automation is considered as one of their pillars, increasing productivity and reducing human drudgery, therefore improving general welfare. Nevertheless, the political, societal and anthropological problems arisen with industrial automation -as early warned by Norbert Wiener (1989)- must be considered in order to evaluate and steer the paths of automation. This critical appraisal might be conceived as a means to achieve a social self-regulation (in the sense stressed above) to this concern. However, as Noble (1993) argues in his Automation Madness, such a critical stance has been systematically evaded as well as encapsulated in technological ideology (Habermas 1970). According to Noble analysis, the adoption of automation did not really account for economical benefits, but for military, power and class interests.

 

Going beyond industrial automation, new information technologies have been posed as the automation of intellectual work (Diani 1996). New social problems arisen from this perspective should also be tackled in a wide critical assessment, reflection and decision-making on automation of any kind (Chollet and Rivière 2010). Both ethics and critical theory has been posed as stages for these social endeavours (


 
References
  • AL-JAZARÍ (c. 1206), trans. (1973), The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices: Kitáb fí ma'rifat al-hiyal al-handasiyya. Berlin: Springer.
  • BACON, Rogerio (1859). "Epistula de secretis operibus artis naturae". en Opera quaedam hactenus inedita. London: Brewer.
  • CHOLLET, M. and P. RIVIÈRE (coor.) (2010). Internet: révolution culturelle. Manier de voir, 109.OGATA, K. (1998). Ingeniería de control Moderna, México D.F.: Prentice-Hall Hispanoamericana.
  • DIANI, M. (1996). Individualisation at work: office automation and occupational identity. in S. Lash, B. Szerszynski and B. Wynne (editors) (1996). Risk, Environment and Modernity: Towards a New Ecology. London: Sage Publications, 154-168.
  • HABERMAS, Jürgen (1970). "Technology and Science as Ideology". in Toward a Rational Society. J. Shapiro (trans.). Boston: Beacon Press.
  • HERO of Alexandria (c.150 b.C.); Bennet Woodcroft (trans.) (1851). Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria. London: Taylor Walton and Maberly. [online] Rochester, NY: University of Rochester <http://www.history.rochester.edu/steam/hero/index.html> [Retrieved 10/3/2010]
  • HOA, W. K., HONGA, Y., HANSSON, A., HJALMARSSON, H, DENGA, J.W. (2003), “Relay auto-tuning of PID controllers using iterative feedback tuning”. Automatica, 39(2003), 149-157.
  • NOBLE, David F. (1993). Automation Madness, or the unautomatic history of automation. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr.
  • RASHED, Roshdi; MORELON, Régis (1996). Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. New York: Routledge.
  • RUMFORD, B. C. (1798) "An Enquiry concerning the Source of Heat which is excited by Friction", A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts, vol. 2 (April 1798-March 1799), pp.106-118
  • WIENER, Norbert (1989). The Human Use of Human Beings. Cybernetics and Society. London: Free Assoc. Books (First published in 1950)
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Incorporated entries

Al Hadithi, Basil Mohammed (10/03/2010)
 
The concept of automated machines goes back to ancient times. Automata, or machines like people, and clocks appeared in medieval churches and 8th century watchmakers were well known for their smart mechanical discoveries.

Some of the first robots utilized feedback mechanisms to reduce errors, mechanisms that are still used nowadays.
An example of feedback control is a liquid tank which uses a float to control the water level. When the water falls below a desired level, the float comes down, a valve opens and allows more water to enter in the tank. When the water goes up, the float rises too, and at a certain height the valve is closed and cut off the water.

The first real feedback system was the Watt regulator, invented in 1788 by the British engineer James Watt. This device consisted of two metal balls attached to the drive shaft of a steam engine and connected to a valve regulating the flow of steam. As the speed of the steam engine is increased, the balls are moving out of the shaft because of centrifugal force, thereby closing the valve. This caused a decline in the flow of steam to the engine and therefore the speed will be reduced.

The feedback control, the development of specialized tools and distribution of work into smaller tasks that workers or machines might handle, were essential ingredients in the industry automation in the eighteenth century. As technology improved, specialized machines were developed for tasks such as putting caps on bottles or pour liquid into molds for rubber tires. However, none of these machines have the versatility and efficiency of the human arm and could not reach distant objects and place them in the required position.

An automated manufacturing system is designed to use the capacity of machines to perform certain tasks previously tackled by humans, and to control the sequence of operations without human intervention. The term automation has also been used to describe non-manufacturing systems in which programmed or automated devices can operate independently or semi-independently of human control. In communications, aviation and astronautics, devices such as automatic telephone switching equipment, autopilots, and automated systems guidance and control are used to perform different tasks faster or better than human beings.


Díaz Nafría (09/01/2009)
 
Self-regulation (or automatic regulation) used in systems theory and cybernetics in the sense of homeostasis (→feedback), i.e., the capacity of a system to maintain itself in a equilibrium condition.

In this sense, the term is commonly used in psychology, though not as an "automatic regulation", but as "self-regulation ", also named self-control, i.e. the ability to control one´s emotions, desires or actions by one's own will. Since automatic is used in a sense of acting without volition or concious control, there is a certain semantic confusion between the psychological meaning of "self-regulation" or "self-control", on the one hand, and "automatic regulation" or "automatic control", on the other hand.
 
Automatic regulation -used in the same sense- is mainly found within the field of electronic systems and control engineering (→control theory).
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