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Positive Feedback

A working description for metadesigners


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POSITIVE FEEDBACK IS A SELF-AFFIRMING PROCESS In positive feedback, whatever phenomenon that is reflected in the information loop becomes amplified, or magnified, by that feedback. An avalanche is a good example. Once it has started it augments and/or hastens its own state in a 'runaway' fashion. Similarly, in the example (diagram above), once panic causes some cattle to start running, others will find this frightening and start to run, until the general level of panic, and the number of cattle running reach whatever limits pertain at the time.

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Cattle stampede----Positive feedback loop

POSITIVE FEEDBACK IN LANGUAGING: our language systems provide us with values that are reinforced when we encounter situations that seem to confirm them. Notwithstanding the remarks about 'positive feedback' not meaning 'bad feedback', positive feedback may work to sustain extremes of either the 'good', or the 'bad'. In some situations, positive feedback stops dysfunctional social systems from working better. In other situations, benign social systems (see contagious optimism) sustain themselves through positive feedback. One way to harness these processes is by artificially cultivating optimistic thoughts (see discussion about the carbon footprint of rain). This might include thinking beyond the possible.

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