Kevin Liggieri: Non-Linearity and the Problem of Formulizing “the Human”

This paper will productively question the problem of non-linearity. This is a highly complex
issue in technical science because of the difficulties it raises in its calculations. It concerns the connection between order and coincidence, formalisation and life, technology and human. The problem of linear and especially non-linear control systems appears as an anthropological problem in this context. Anthropology and the concept of the human being becomes a concrete problem with regard to the unpredictability of non-linearity. Thus, since the 1960s, the “human as controller” was increasingly thought together with non-linear behaviour in control engineering. In this sense, technical science recognizes that the simple formalization of human beings in human-machine interaction is no longer sufficient. The technical sciences thus problematize the human factor, concentrating the fear of unpredictability in performance fluctuations and deficits. Many researchers in the technical sciences saw that the discontinuous, time-variant and non-linear problem factor of the ‚human‘ needed a new and individual treatment. Their question was: How can we deal with this new, untidy human model? How can we try to adapt humans and models to each other? How much of human behaviour can be technically formalized? Does technology thereby generate a notion of the human as orderly and rationally functioning?

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