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Perception of the Future and the Future of Perception - Heinz Von Foerster

January 1972, at University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois

“The definition of a problem and the action taken to solve it largely depend on the view which the individuals or groups that discovered the problem have of the system to which it refers. A problem may thus find itself defined as a badly interpreted output, or as a faulty output of a faulty output device, or as a faulty output due to a malfunction in an otherwise faultless system, or as a correct but undesired output from a faultless and thus undesirable system. All definitions but the last suggest corrective action; only the last definition suggests change, and so presents an unsolvable problem to anyone opposed to change” (Herbert Brün, 1971). Truisms have the disadvantage that by dulling the senses they obscure the truth. Almost nobody will become alarmed when told that in times of continuity the future equals the past. Only a few will become aware that from this follows that in times of socio-cultural change the future will not be like the past. "