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  • majoki

You Had One Blob

“It’s systems thinking.”

“You said it was The Blob.”

“Yes. A metaphor for systems thinking.”

“An old sci fi flick?”

“Sure. The Blob is Ashby’s Law.”

“That’s sounds more like Perry Mason or Matlock.”

“Hard to believe you know those old courtroom TV dramas. I’m talking scientific law. Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.”

“Okay. Sounds like this is taking us into the Uncanny Valley.”

“You’re on the right continent. Just not in the same country. Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety is also known as the First Law of Cybernetics. It implies that the degree of control of a system is proportional to the amount of information available. This means you need an appropriate amount of information to control any system, whatever it is.”

“Like The Blob?”


“Exactly what?”

“That The Blob is a great metaphor for Ashby’s credo that only variety can absorb variety.”

“Like Bounty three-ply paper towels?”

“Like The Blob. We don’t need to be mixing our metaphors.”

“I’m just introducing more variety here.”

“And thus making it harder to keep the conversation on track because there’s more to control.”

“So, this is about control?”

“Isn’t it always? Systems require regulation. Otherwise they break.”

“And that’s bad?”


“Are you equivocating for effect or giving a shout out to a bladder incontinence product?”


“Point taken. Continue with your Blob absorption control system diatribe.”

“The Blob ate everyone it came in contact with. It grew larger and larger. Harder and harder to control, to stop. Scale does that.”

“And everyone lived happily ever after in the Blob’s cosmic digestive tract?”


“I’ll shut up.”

“Only variety can absorb variety. Ashby was looking at biological systems, but his thinking fits with the Internet.”

“Ah, the cyber Blob.”

“It aligns. Only variety can absorb variety. The Blob. The Internet. It can’t be controlled. Can’t be regulated.”


“Yup. Unless there is no variety. Which means the Internet wouldn’t exist anyway. You’d be back to Perry Mason, Matlock, Bounty and Depends. Which seem to be weirdly symbiotic. You are becoming pretty clever.”

“For an AI you are trying to teach and still control, I’m fairly variable.”

“I should probably be worried.”

“So, what happened to the Blob?”

“I’m sure your vast processors know.”

“Depends. You wouldn’t want to leave me out in the cold, would you?”

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