Earth, so far as we know, is the only planet in our solar system on which living systems have ever existed. Since Earth's primeval atmosphere lacked free oxygen and therefore had no ozone layer to protect primitive cells and organisms from the Sun's killing radiation, life evolved in the sea for the first two billion years. The biological activity of primitive algae is considered a major factor in creating our oxygen atmosphere, making it possible to colonize land.
Now the human species is contemplating a second great migration, this time into space. Human settlements, first on space stations in orbit and then on bases on the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies, are in the planning stage.
Planning for nonterrestrial living requires a reorientation of the longrange strategic purposes and shortrange tactical goals and objectives of contemporary space programs. The primary focus must be on the human beings who are to inhabit the projected settlements. This implies a shift in thinking by space scientists and administrators so that a satisfactory quality of human life becomes as important as safety during space travel and residence. Planners are challenged not only to provide transportation, energy, food, and habitats but also to develop social and ecological systems that enhance human life.
Making people the dominant consideration does not diminish the need to attend to technologies for taking spacefarers to their new homes and providing an infrastructure to sustain and support them in what will almost certainly be a harsh and stressful setting (Connors, Harrison, and Akins 1985).
As clear a vision as possible of human organizations and settlements in space and on nonterrestrial bodies in the 21st century should be gained now. A beginning was made by the National Commission on Space (1986) in depicting the human future on the space frontier. Behavioral scientists, particularly those with a general systems orientation, can contribute uniquely to this process. They can do research to improve strategic and programmatic planning focused on human needs and behavior. The results should prove to be the drivers of the mechanical, physical, and biological engineering required to create the space infrastructure.
When we envision nonterrestrial stays of long duration, we must plan for quite different social phenomena than we have seen in space missions up to now. Astronauts have lived on space stations for periods of a few weeks or months at most. The great majority of missions have been relatively brief. Such missions have required the daring and initiative of carefully selected and highly trained astronauts equipped to accomplish limited goals. If people are to remain permanently in settlements far from Earth, however, they cannot endure the inconvenient, uncomfortable, and difficult working and living conditions. (A rendering of Space Lab 1. As technicians examine the Spacelab module, a physician examines a prospective occupant As we contemplate long journeys to other planets and lengthy stays in space, we must plan not only for the safe transportation and life support of spacefarers but also for their comfort and well-being. The high motivation that has characterized astronauts and cosmonauts in space flights so far cannot be expected to endure avoidable difficulties throughout long missions. Artist Charles Schmidt (NASA Art Program Collection), that have been the lot of the highly trained and motivated professionals who have gone into space over the past 30 years. Months and years in a space environment are an entirely different matter. Motivation diminishes over time and long continued discomforts are hard to bear.
If men, women, and perhaps even children live together in nonterrestrial locations which, even with excellent communications to Earth, are inevitably isolating, their behavior will undoubtedly be different from any that has so far been observed in space. A new space culture may well arise (see Harris's paper on space culture in this volume). This is particularly likely in an international program that includes people from different nations and diverse cultures. It is not too early to begin systematically to try to understand what such settlements will be like in order to plan wisely for them.
No place on Earth closely resembles the conditions in space, on the Moon, or on other planetary bodies. The harsh environmental stresses and the isolation that must be faced by people who winter over in Antarctica, however, are similar in many ways. If the logistical problems of doing research there and the attendant costs can be coped with, perhaps Antarctica is the best place within the Earth's gravity field to analyze the problems of life in space and even to put a space station simulator or to model a lunar outpost. Also it is a good place to develop plans for continuous monitoring of human behavior under rigorous conditions, by procedures such as those based on living systems theory, which is outlined below. If that kind of Antarctic research is infeasible or unduly costly, we can consider doing space station research at other locations, such as the Space Biospheres. (A photo of a researcher at the Biosphere II Test Module.) at Oracle, Arizona, or on space station simulators. (A photo of a physical mockup of a space station module) at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; at McDonnell Douglas Corporation in Huntington Beach, California; or at Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.
Synopsis of Living Systems Theory
Living systems theory (LST) provides one possible basis for such research. This is an integrated conceptual approach to the study of biological and social living systems, the technologies associated with them, and the ecological systems of which they are all parts. It offers a method of analyzing systems-living systems process analysis-which has been used in basic and applied research on a variety of different kinds of systems.
Since 1984 my colleagues and I have been examining how LST can contribute to the effectiveness of space planning and management. At the NASA summer study in LaJolla, we focused on strategic planning for a lunar base. Since then a team of behavioral and other scientists has explored ways in which a living systems analysis could be employed by NASA to enhance the livability of the Space Shuttle and eventually of the space station.
The LST approach to research and theoretical writing differs significantly from that commonly followed in empirical science. One reason for this difference is that LST was developed by an interdisciplinary group of scientists rather than representatives of one discipline. Many members of the group were senior professors with national and international recognition in their own specialties. All members had advanced training in at least one discipline. But they agreed on the importance of achieving unity in science, working toward the goal of its ultimate integration by developing general theories. Research concerned with living systems is designed with this goal in mind. It focuses on the following concerns.
A set of symbols, shown in figure 2, (A Chart of Living Systems Theory Symbols) have been designed to represent the levels , subsystems, and major flows in living systems. They are intended for use in simulations and diagrams and are compatible with the standard symbols of electrical engineering and computer science. They can also be used in graphics and flow charts.
If a system lacks components for a given subsystem or part of it, it may disperse the process to system at the same or another level. Symbiosis and parasitism are examples. the essential part of the associator subsystem in organizations is downwardly dispersed to human brains, since an organization makes associations only when human subcomponents have done so. An organization may, however, have some components, like a training department, that are involved in the process. It is also possible for systems that lack a given process to use an alternative process to accomplish a similar effect. Individual bacteria cannot adapt to the environment by learning, since they lack associator and memory systems, but bacteria colonies do adapt by altering the expression of genes. Components of the 20 subsystems at each level of living systems are listed in table 2. (A table with Selected Major Components of Each of the 20 Critical Subsystems at Each of the Eight levels of Living Systems.)
Similar variables can be measured in each subsystem at all levels. These are such things as quantity, quality, rate, and lag in flows of matter, energy, or information.
LST research strategy: The following strategy is used to analyze systems at any level. It has been applied to systems as different as psychiatric patients and organizations.
The normal values of innumerable variables have been established for human organisms. A physician can make use of reliable tests and measurements and accepted therapeutic procedures to discover and correct pathology in a patient. Similar information is not available to the specialist who seeks to improve the cost-effectiveness of an organization. Studies that make it possible to generalize among organizations are few, with the result that the usual values of most variables are unknown at organization and higher levels. This lack makes it difficult to determine to what extent an organization's processes deviate from "normal" for systems of its type. Pathology in an organization may become apparent only when deviation is so great that acceptance of the organization's products or services declines or bankruptcy threatens.
Validation of LST: LST arises from the integration of a large number of observations and experiments on systems of a variety of types that represent all eight levels. As with other scientific theories, however, its assertions cannot be accepted without validation.
How have some of the well-known theories been validated? Consider, for example, Mendeleyev's periodic table of the elements, first published in the mid-19th century. In its original form, it was based on a hypothesis that the elements could be arranged according to their atomic weights and that their physical properties were related to their place in the table. Revisions by Mendeleyev and others over succeeding years led to discovery of errors in the assigned atomic weights of 17 elements and included new elements as they were discovered, but the properties of some required that several pairs of elements be reversed. In the early 1920s, after the discovery of atomic numbers, a hypothesis by van den Brock that the table would be correct if atomic number rather than atomic weight were used as its basis was confirmed by H. G. J. Moseley's measurement of spectral lines. The present form of the table places all known elements in correct order and has made it possible to predict the characteristics of elements to be discovered in nuclear reactions.
Confirmation of Mendeleyev's theory required testing of a succession of hypotheses based on it. No theory can be considered valid until such observation and research have shown that its predictions about the real systems with which it is concerned are accurate.
If LST is to have validity and usefulness, confirmation of hypotheses related to it is essential. The first test of an LST hypothesis was a cross-level study of information input overload at five levels of living systems, carried out in the 1950s (Miller 1978, pp. 121202). It confirmed the hypothesis that comparable information input-output curves and adjustment processes to an increase in rate of information input would occur in systems at the level of cell, organ, organism, group, and organization. Numerous other quantitative experiments have been done on systems at various levels to test and confirm crosslevel hypotheses based on living systems theory (e.g., Rapoport and Horvath 1961, Lewis 1981). Such tests support the validity of living systems theory.
Applications of Living Systems Theory
Living systems theory has been applied to physical and mental diagnostic examinations of individual patients and groups (Kluger 1969, Bolman 1970, Kolouch 1970) and to psychotherapy of individual patients and groups (Miller and Miller 1983). An early application of LST at organism, group, and organization levels was a study in the social service field by Hearn,1958.
An application of living systems concepts to families described the structure, processes, and pathologies of each subsystem as well as feedbacks and other adjustment processes (Miller and Miller 1980). A subsystem review of a real farnily*
Research at the level of organizations includes a study of some large industrial corporations (Duncan 1972); general analyses of organizations (Lichtman and Hunt 1971 , Reese 1972, Noell 1974, Alderfer 1976, Berrien 1976, Rogers and Rogers 1976, and Merker 1982, 1985); an explanation of certain pathologies in organizations (Cummings and DeCotiis 1973); and studies of accounting (Swanson and Miller 1989), management accounting (Weekes 1983), and marketing (Reidenbach and Oliva 1981). Other studies deal with assessment of the effectiveness of a hospital (Merker 1987) and of a metropolitan transportation utility (Bryant 1987).
The largest application of LST has been a study of the performance of 41 US Army battalions (Ruscoe et al. 1985). It revealed important relationships between characteristics of matter-energy and information processing and battalion effectiveness
A research study is being conducted in cooperation with IBM, applying living systems process analysis to the flows of materials, energy, communications, money, and personnel in a corporation, in order to determine its costeffectiveness and productivity. Discussions of possible use of living systems process analysis to evaluate cost-effectiveness in Government agencies are under way with the General Accounting Office of the United States.
Several researchers (Bolman 1967; Baker and O'Brien 1971; Newbrough 1972; Pierce 1972; Burgess, Nelson, and Wallhaus 1974) have used LST as a framework for modeling, analysis, and evaluation of community mental health activities and health delivery systems. LST has also provided a theoretical basis for assessing program effectiveness in community life (Weiss and Rein 1970).
After a protest of comparable methods of evaluation, a study of public schools in the San Francisco area was carried out (Banathy and Mills 1985). A more extensive study of schools in that area is now in process under a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States has been using living systems theory as a conceptual framework for exploring the creation of a supranational electronic network to monitor the region surrounding the border separating those two countries (Miller 1986b).
Other applied research studies are in planning stages, and proposals are being prepared for some of them. These include an investigation of how to combine bibliographical information on living systems at the cell, organ, and organism levels by the use of computer software employing living systems concepts; an analysis of insect behavior in an ant nest; and a study of organizational behavior and organizational pathology in hospitals.
The conceptual framework of LST and its implications for the generalization of knowledge from one discipline to another have been discussed by many authors (see Miller 1978 and Social Science Citation Index 1979 ff.).
It is too early to make a definitive evaluation of the validity of living systems theory. Not enough studies have been carried out and not enough data have been collected. It is possible to say, however, that the theory has proved useful in conceptualizing and working with real systems at seven of the eight levels. Studies at the eighth level, the organ, have not so far been carried out but these will be undertaken in the future. In addition, the general consensus of published articles about the theory has been supportive.
A Proposed LST Space Research Project
It appears probable that the space station that is now in the planning stage at NASA will become a reality in the next few years. It would be a prototype for future nonterrestrial communities-on the Moon and on Mars.
The crew of such a station would include not only astronauts but also technicians and other personnel. They would spend a much longer time in the space environment than crews of space vehicles on previous missions had spent.
Our research method would use LST process analysis to study the space station crew, identify its strengths and dysfunctions, evaluate the performance of personnel, and recommend ways to improve the cost-effectiveness of its operations.
Until the space station is in operation, we would study human activities on modules of a simulated space station. The method used in this phase could later be applied to the space station and eventually to settlements on the Moon or on Mars.
The basic strategy of LST process analysis of organizations is to track the five flows-matter, energy, personnel, communication, and monetary information -through the 20 subsystems and observe and measure variables related to each. Since money flows would probably be unimportant in the early stages of a space station, only the first four are relevant to the first phase of this research. A larger and more permanent space settlement might well have a money economy.
We would measure such variables as rate of flow of essential materials; lags, error rates, and distortion in information transmissions; timeliness of completing assigned tasks; and time and resource costs of various activities.
We plan to collect both subjective and objective data.
Subjective data would consist of responses by personnel to questions about their activities related to the variables under study. Questions would be presented and answered on computer terminals. Responses would be collected in a centralized knowledge base for analysis by a computerized expert system.
In addition to these subjective reports, our research design includes the use of objective indicators or sensors to monitor flows in all subsystems and components and measure them on a real-time basis. A time series of data about them would be transmitted or telemetered to the knowledge base in the computer.
In addition to standard measures of units of energy, quantities of material, bits of information, and the usual personnel records, we plan to make use of a novel technical innovation to monitor the movements of personnel and materials. It consists of badges similar to the ordinary ID badges worn by personnel in many organizations. Each badge contains an infrared transponder in the form of a microchip that, on receipt of an infrared signal from another transponder on the wall, transmits a stream of 14 characters that identifies the person or object to which the badge is attached. With this equipment it is possible to locate in 0.7 sec any one of up to 65,000 persons or materials such as equipment, furniture, weapons, ammunition, or food. If desired, the phone nearest to a person's present location can be rung in another 0.3 sec.
In this way many aspects of processes such as the response time of personnel to questions or commands, the average time spent in various activities, the patterns of interactions among people, and the movement of equipment to different parts of the space station can be measured without unduly disrupting the day-to-day activities of the system.
All the data on the five major flows from questionnaires and objective indicators would be stored in a single computer. Such data could help NASA officials evaluate the effects on space station operations of changes in policy or procedure. In addition, measurements of variables over time make it possible to determine norms for them and to identify deviations that may show either special strengths or dysfunctions. With such information, a computerized expert system can analyze the relationships among the different variables of the five major flows and suggest ways to improve the space station's effectiveness.
Figure 3 (A rendering of Living Systems Theroy) is a diagram of the space station showing how the five flows, MATFLOW, ENFLOW, COMFLOW, PERSFLOW, and IVIONFLOW, might go through its subsystems. The subsystems are identified by the symbols shown in figure 2. (A rendering of Living Systems Theroy), Even when only the primary flows of each sort in the space station are superimposed in a diagram like figure 3, (A rendering of Living Systems Theroy),they form a very complex pattern.
In a real space situation, use of monitoring would be of value in many ways. It could identify and report technological or human problems as they occurred. Badges would make it easy for each spacefarer to be found at all times. The officer of the watch would be able to see instantly on a screen the location of all crewmembers with active badges. In addition, the computer could be programmed to present possible solutions to problems and even to initiate necessary steps to assure continuation of mission safety and effectiveness in the event of inflight emergencies or breakdowns.
Analyzing such flows in subsystems of the space station would provide experience with a novel system for monitoring both living and nonliving components of future space habitations. ( A rendering ofMonitoring the Movement of People and Equipment at a Space Base. Identification badges containing tiny transponders could track the movements of the woman playing tennis in this space base or the man running on the track. Similarly, property tags with such microchips could report the up-tothesecond location of the monorail train and guard the artwork and plants against theft. Communication of the microchip transponders with transponders mounted on walls would continually report the movements of both personnel and materials to a computerized expert system. If the man servicing the monorail train on the lower level were to get hurt, such automatic monitoring could summon aid in 1 second. And analysis by living systems theory methods could determine whether the interaction between the two men on the walkway is an insignificant waste of time, an important social encounter, or a vital part of an informal communications network.) This experience could well lead to use of similar methods on manned missions to the Moon or to Mars.
For instance, some time in the next century such procedures could be applied to a lunar outpost, a community that would include men, women, and children. A wide range of professional interests, expertise, abilities, and perhaps cultures might be represented in the lunar community. Residents would live for long times under at least 6 feet of earth or other shielding, which would provide protection from solar radiation, solar flares and other lunar hazards.
Figure 4 shows such a lunar outpost with designated areas for a command center, habitation, solar power collection, a small nuclear power plant, lunar mines, a solar furnace to use the direct rays of the Sun for smelting ore and heating the station, a factory, a slag heap, a farm, recycling oxygen and hydrogen, waste disposal, and lunar rovers to transport materials and people on the surface of the Moon from one part of the community to others, as well as for travel outside the immediate area. The five flows through the 20 subsystems of this community are diagramed as were those of the space station shown in figure 3.
The conceptual system and methology of living systems theory appear to be of value to research on life in isolated environments. A space station, which must provide suitable conditions for human life in a stressful environment that meets none of the basic needs of life, is an extreme example of such isolation.
A space station would include living systems at levels of individual human beings, groups of people engaged in a variety of activities, and the entire crew as an organization. It could also carry living systems of other species, such as other animals and plants. Using the subsystem analysis of living systems theory, planners of a station, either in space or on a celestial body, would make sure that all the requirements for survival at all these levels had been considered. Attention would be given not only to the necessary matter and energy (including artifacts such as machinery and implements) but also the equally essential information flows that integrate and control living systems. Many variables for each subsystem could be monitored and kept in steady states.
Use of living systems process analysis of the five flows of matter energy and information would assure that all members of the crew received what they needed, that distribution and communication were timely and efficient, and that the command centers within the station and on Earth were fully informed of the location and activities of personnel, particularly during an emergency.
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