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Ontology of invention: constructs as affordances for roles

The system is physical: it has a purpose/function in changing the state of physical objects in the environment (which are also systems). No one needs the system to change internal states, what is needed is for these changes in the internal state of the system to somehow influence the state of external systems. No one needs mechanical clock gears to just spin uniformly on their own, but clocks are required to "show time", that is the benefit of clocks, it is the function of clocks, the role of the construct "clock" - "time indicator". Whether it is provided by gears or electronics, or by using the Sun as very rough (hourly precision) and unreliable (possible cloud cover) clocks in the construct of "sundial clocks" - that is important, but only after we have figured out what is needed during operation. What is needed is the function of "showing time" with such precision, such reliability. If it is clocks in a rocket, then mechanical clocks and sundial clocks as material/constructive objects will not be suitable, but electronic clocks - may be suitable. But until we look at the "time indicator in the rocket environment at the moment of launch", we cannot say anything about what constructs may be suitable for us, about this, the previous section.

The system always performs a certain function during its use, that is, it changes the state of the environment. System::role and system function::role are always defined at the moment of its work/operation. But system::constructive - is a consideration at the moment of creation, when we estimate which material objects will be processed in what ways to obtain a successful system::role (in other words, the material/constructive of gears and springs, electronics or sticks and some surface with a scale and placement in open space will be constructive/materials for clocks::constructive). What we chose from a long series of possible constructs is the affordance, the "fit".

The system::role may have a name different from the system::constructive name, because constructive/material objects are considered outside the environment during usage, but during creation. Most often, the constructs/materials from which the system is created are named after the primary function of these constructs, when a similar type of system was considered as a role. For example, if a "paperweight"::role with the function of "holding down paper blown by the wind" is of interest, then constructs/"constructive objects"/"material objects" stone, microscope, hammer - all can be named as affordances (that is, if they are chosen for holding down paper, for performing the function) and "paperweight". This does not make them any less of a stone, microscope, hammer, but their role behavior/function will be - holding the paper from scattering.

The system::role function is transmitted by verbal nouns: "holding" (from the verb "to hold"), in English this is the -ing form of verbs. In the case of the creator system, the term will be from the synonymous series function/practice/culture/method of work, but this does not change the naming rules. Of course, not all schools of thought adhere to this rule (some may use the verb in infinitive), but nevertheless today such naming of functions is the most common. And when naming the function, it is always about the time of operation/operation/use/functioning of the system when it changes the state of systems in its environment.

And it is always the time of operation (the time of practicing the creating system - the time of creating the target system, but the time of operation/use/functioning/practicing of the creating system). Without a type of machines in your head, it is difficult to understand this. For example, "the function of an engineer - designing, planning, and implementing a system". The phrase speaks about the function of some object - an engineer. If it is about the function, then it refers to an engineer::role, not at the moment of its creation (agent training, agent assignment to the role of an engineer), but during the work of the engineer system, when the engineer changes the state of the environment, meaning that the engineer translates some target system from states of "not conceived", "not designed", "not implemented" into the state of "conceived", "designed", "implemented".

Who will be this "engineer"? Some "suitable constructive object"/affordance - this can be Peter Fedorovich, but it can also be LLC "AtomstroyMontazhAvtoMatRazdatka". How is this possible? Here's how: the phrase talks about the function, meaning it directly points out that the functional/role object "engineer" is being considered in his environment. The phrase says nothing about the constructive/material object, that is, it does not point to the "fit"/affordance that will then "perform the function"/"play the role". The engineer can thus also become an AI agent, a "non-living being", and an entire enterprise.

If you are told that the function of a nail-driving device is "driving nails", meaning the nail in the environment of this device is translated from the state of "not driven" to the state of "driven" by this device, then this implicit indication is of the type: "nail-driving device"::role, and the discussion is about the time of using this device. The target system, changing the state after the function is performed, is the nail.

But a hammer, microscope, or stone as an affordance for the "nail-driving device" as a creating system for a "driven nail" will play the role of this device, or a clever robot on quantum crystals, it doesn't matter - this is important for the moment of creating the nail-driving device. One must separate the discussion of functionality (what needs to be done, purpose, function, and role) and constructiveness (what to make it from) in order to be able to change constructs without changing the function. If you need to "move a ton of cargo from point A to point B", you first discuss what kind of cargo, what are the start and finish points, how much of this cargo - and only then start picking the method/style of transportation, and only after that - the one who can implement this method. This is the basis of inventiveness (selecting the minimum set of affordances for performing the function). Systems thinking thereby explicitly introduces the ontology of inventiveness.

If you do not know what affordances your system has - do not attempt to create it! Charles Babbage and his assistant Ada Lovelace described the computer: a computing machine, with the function of translating input data for certain mathematical tasks into output data. The function - calculations based on a changeable algorithm. But they took mechanical constructs as the affordances. Later they tried pneumatic, electrical (relay) constructs, and still didn't succeed: terribly low reliability, terribly low work speed.

What should have been done? Taking as a construct (that is, an affordance selected from all other options) vacuum tubes/triodes, which were invented by the American Lee De Forest only half a century after Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's death, and the invention of using triodes for computers came even half a century later. The functional description of the computer (what happens there during its operation to get the desired result) was done, but there were problems with finding affordances (inventing!). Twice half a century passed: the invention of the amplifying triode - half a century from the start of the Babbage and Lovelace universal programmable computer project, then the invention of the triode and the establishment of mass production of cheap amplifying triodes - half a century, and only then the involvement of the triode construct in the key mode of "logic switch" as part of the computer, thus obtaining the first truly universal and useful computer ENIAC. It took several more decades to replace the lamp triodes with transistors, including transistors on integrated circuits. Only after this did computers become a mass product.

Affordances as constructs/materials usually "come from the side", that is, they are material products of other industries. A klystron as a radio tube for microwaves came to kitchens not from the industry that produced primuses, kerosene stoves, and gas burners. If you have no ideas about what could be an affordance for your system description (for example, a "tablecloth-self-gathering" system, whose function is feeding ten people for five rubles), you risk finding yourself in a situation similar to the inventors of the computer, or the inventors of heavier-than-air flying machines, which they could not invent until there were internal combustion engines: the Wright brothers were not for nothing the owners of a workshop for manufacturing and repairing motorcycles. More details on all these stories can be found in the materials on strategizing in the "System Management" course. But to understand this strategizing, one must have an idea of system::role and its function at the moment of operation, embodying this system::role in a system::constructive, which will be an affordance at the time of creating the system::role. And understand that affordance selection is invention.