The Cybernetics Society holds scientific meetings,
conferences, and social events, and engages in other activities to
encourage public understanding of science and to extend and disseminate
knowledge of cybernetics and its associated disciplines. The Society aims
to support the Continuing Professional Development of its members. The
Cybernetics Society is a member society of the International Federation for
Systems Research and is affiliated to the World Organisation of Systems and
Cybernetics. The Cybernetics Society is authorised and regulated by the
Call for papers: The Global Brain and the Future Information Society
Global Brain is a track at IS4IS 2015 Summit Vienna.
Prof. Francis Heylighen, Director of the Global Brain Institute writes:The Global Brain can be defined as the self-organizing network formed by all people on this planet together with the information and communication technologies that connect and support them. As the Internet becomes faster, smarter, and more encompassing, it increasingly links its users into a single information processing system, which functions like a nervous system for the planet Earth.
The intelligence of this system is collective and distributed: it is not localized in any particular individual, organization or computer system. It rather emerges from the interactions between all its components- a property characteristic of a complex adaptive system. Such a distributed intelligence may be able to tackle current and emerging global problems that have eluded more traditional approaches. Yet, at the same time it will create technological and social challenges that are still difficult to imagine, transforming our society in all aspects.
Invitation to IEEE conference CYBCONF 2015, Gdynia, Poland
Profs Piotr Jedrzejowicz and Ngoc Thanh Nguyen write: We sincerely invite you to submit a paper to CYBCONF 2015. Accepted papers will appear in the conference proceedings, available on IEEE Xplore and submitted to be indexed/abstracted in CPCi (ISI conferences and part of Web of Science) and Engineering Index. The authors of selected best papers will be invited post conference to extend their contributions for special issues of prestigious journals such as IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics.
Project CYBERSYN: Chile & the Socialist Internet
6th December 2014 2pm- 5pm and 7pm-10pm C1.18 (The Pavilion), University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, W1W 6UW London.
The event is led by Raul Espejo Former Operational Director of Project CYBERSYN. Currently he is Director-General of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics, Director of Syncho Ltd, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Santiago.
Building on the insights of Norbert Wiener, the founding father of cybernetics, Stafford's vision entailed a radical experiment in grass-roots networking.
More at Cybersalon.
Shape the future of the Web!
Sir Tim Berners-Lee says "The future of the Web depends on ordinary people discussing it, taking responsibility for it and challenging those who seek to control the Web for their own purposes. The first step is to answer one simple question: what kind of Web do we want?"
More at webwewant.org
Festschrift for Ranulph Glanville
Lou Kauffman and Soren Brier write:"Ranulph Glanville is about to retire from his work for the Cybernetics & Human Knowing journal. He is soon writing his last column to no.2: 2015. He will also retire from great parts of his enormous fan of work for associations such as the ASC, conferences and other journals. We therefore thought we would commemorate his gigantic work with a festschrift commenting on the significance of what he has done...".
Further information in the 28/10/14 CYBCOM post from Soren Brier.
Dr Bernard Scott "Beyond Dogma: Heinz von Foerster's Responsibilities of Competence" Heinz von Foerster Lecture '14 in Vienna
Monday, 10th November 2014, 19:00 Universität Wien.
Our distinguished fellow Dr Scott will discuss two kinds of pathological belief system "individualism" and the "dogmas of collectives". He proposes education for cybernetic enlightenment.Flyer.
There will be anniversary celebrations "Heinz von Foerster's Birthday Party" on Thursday, 13th November 2014, 20:00 echoraum, Sechshauser Strasse 66, 1150 Wien.
Further details email Albert Mueller.
Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century: Plans commence for follow-up to successful conference
From the Conference Newsletter:
The success of the conference has led to discussion of a second conference at the University of Melbourne, 13-15 July 2016. At present, we are confirming conference sponsors, themes and special events. For further details or to participate in the early preparations, e-mail.
In coming months transcripts of key talks from the conference will be provided on the 21st Century Wiener web site. Peer reviewed papers have been included in the IEEEXplore database.
"The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again)" Doug Hill reflects on Wiener in The Atlantic.
"The Planning Machine: Project Cybersyn and the origins of the Big Data nation" from The New Yorker Evgeny Morozov reviews Stafford Beer's interpretation of Wiener and Ashby for real-time Management.
The Cybernetics Society October Symposium is postponed till Saturday November 22nd 2014 at 2pm.
The meeting will be held as before at Wine and Mousaka, Haven Green, Ealing Broadway, W5 2NY (120m right out of Ealing Broadway station, terminus of District and Central lines). Possible topics have been suggested on Robotics and Cybernetic perspectives on the financial crisis but discussion is usually open.
A decision on further locations (e.g. back to Salieri's) will be made following the first meeting and in the light of member comments and suggestions.
Later discussion lunches/symposia are scheduled for Saturday 12th January and Saturday 4th April 2015, all starting at 2pm. Offers to organise additional scientific meetings/talks are welcome.
Call for papers: IMA Conference on Mathematics of Robotics 9-11 September 2015
The conference will be held at St Anne's College Oxford and organized by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. Topics suggested include:
- Topology. Kinematics. Algebraic topology of configuration spaces of robot mechanisms. Topological aspects of path planning and sensor networks. Differential topology and singularity theory of robot mechanism and moduli spaces.
- Algebraic Geometry. Varieties generated by linkages and constraints. Geometry of stiffness and inertia matrices. Rigid-body motions. Computational approaches to algebraic geometry.
- Dynamical Systems and Control. Dynamics of robots and mechanisms. Simulation of multi-body systems, e.g. swarm robots. Geometric control of robots. Optimal control and other optimisation problems.
- Combinatorial and Stochastic Methods. Rigidity of structures. Path planning algorithms. Modular robots.
- Statistics. Stochastic control. Localisation. Navigation with uncertainty. Statistical learning theory.
- Cognitive Robotics. Mathematical aspects of Artificial Intelligence, Developmental Robotics and other Neuroscience based approaches.
AGM & Council Meeting Tuesday 22 July 2014 6pm at Mayday Rooms 88 Fleet St
David Dewhurst writes: Please note the changed location for this year. The Mayday Rooms are just under half a mile east along the road from Kings' College's Strand site. 88 Fleet St. is opposite Goldman Sachs, to the left of the set back forecourt to St. Brides - nearest station Blackfriars.
Council and AGM agendas and minutes of last year's Council and Annual General meetings.
ASC conference 2014 "Living in Cybernetics" Washington DC 3 to 9 August
2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the American Society for Cybernetics incorporated in Washington DC on the 6th August 1964.
The theme is "Living in Cybernetics". The main event (4th to 8th August inclusive) will celebrate "ASC cybernetics in the present" through paper presentations themed using Stuart Umpleby's "Several Traditions of cybernetics" (4th and 5th August); "ASC cybernetics in the past" through addresses from many past presidents and other long term members (August 6th) developing our timeline; and "ASC cybernetics in the future" through workshops developing (re-)views of how cybernetics and education may come together to help make a better world (August 7th and 8th). We intend to generate a publicly available web resource from the "ASC cybernetics in the future sessions". Papers will be considered for publication in a special issue of Kybernetes. The reports back from the past presidents and others will be published in Cybernetics and Human Knowing.
For more details including the pre and post-conference meetings, tourism and arts events around Washington fees etc please visit to find more information, apply to join us, to submit a paper abstract for consideration, or just to express interest.
The conference will be held shortly after the 2014 conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (also at The School of Business at George Washington University). There are discounts for those attending both.
The AISB 2014 Convention (AISB-50)
The AISB, the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour, is holding a convention celebrating 50 years of the AISB from the 1st to the 4th April 2014, at Goldsmiths, University of London, SE14 6NW.
The AISB 2014 Convention (AISB-50) will commemorate both fifty years since the founding of the AISB and sixty years since the death of Alan Turing, founding father of both Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. The convention will include a set of co-located symposia hosting events that include talks, posters, panels, discussions, demonstrations, and outreach sessions. See the AISB-50 Website .
EMCSR 2014: Civilisation at the Crossroads - Response and Responsibility of the Systems Sciences
Vienna, 22-25 April 2014
European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research features keynotes by Mario Bunge, John Collier, and Markus Schwaninger with themes of Sustainability & Development, Emergence & Design, and Complexity & Strategy. The close for the call is February 28th and there is more information here.
System Dynamics Society "Good Governance in a Complex World" Delft, Netherlands July 20-July 24, 2014
This 32nd International Conference aims to address the role of models in governance in the public and private sectors, typically involving a diversity of domains, disciplines, organizations, stakeholders, policies, and goals.
Call for papers closes March 18th.
IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference San Jose, California October 10th-13th 2014
IEEE GHTC focuses on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. This 4th annual cross-discipline conference provides the perfect venue for those interested in humanitarian projects to join their peers in Silicon Valley, a community famed for leading-edge technological innovations, world-class researchers, and technology investors. The conference attracts a global audience of educators, engineers, scientist, practitioners, educators, philanthropists, corporations, foundations, NGO's and others interested in applying technology to develop effective solutions for the challenges facing the world's underserved populations.
Abstract submissions by March 13th.
Deductive and Mathematical Cognition: Implications for Philosophy
The Deductive and Mathematical Cognition Philosophy Conference will be held at the University of Bristol on 7th and 8th April 2014.
The conference aims to investigate the implications of recent empirical developments in the study of deductive and mathematical cognition for established questions in the philosophy of mathematics and logic.
The conference will spend one day focussing on each field, the first day (April 7th) on Mathematical Cognition and Philosophy of Mathematics and the second (April 8th) on Deductive Cognition and Philosophy of Logic.
International Workshop on Movement and Computing: Call for papers
To be held in Ircam-Centre Pompidou, Paris, France on June 16-17 2014. Call closes 15th February 2014. MOCO will bring together people working in interdisciplinary intersections of Human Computer Interaction, Computer Graphics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Affective Computing, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience.
IEEE 2014 Conference on Norbert Wiener in 21st Century
The call for papers ends January 31, 2014. Conference runs 24-26 June 2014, Boston, MA, USA. Confirmed keynote speakers include Dr Mary Catherine Bateson, David A Mindell, Andrew Pickering, Rudolf Seising and Bruce Schneier.
Further details with much background material.
"Second Order Cybernetics Then and Now"
The 2013 Heinz von Foerster Lecture will be given by Stuart Umpleby professor of management at George Washington University at the University of Vienna on Monday 18th November 2013, 19.00 Lecture Room 13.
Prof Umplelby writes: When Heinz von Foerster coined the term "second order cybernetics", his goal was to include the observer in the domain of science. This was a fundamental change in the conception of science, and Heinz encountered stiff opposition. One consequence of including the observer would be to extend cybernetics (and science) into the domain of ethics. Scientists had previously sought to be objective. Including the observer made science a subjective enterprise. This suggestion was strongly resisted by Heinz's colleagues in the UIUC College of Engineering and elsewhere in the U.S. academic community....Several conceptions of second order science have now been formulated. If we use the correspondence principle (i.e., every new theory should reduce to the old theory to which it corresponds for those cases in which the old theory is known to hold), we can say that two dimensions have been added to the conception of science: a) amount of attention paid to the observer, and b) the amount of effect of a theory on the phenomenon described.
Martin is back in Robotics at Middlesex University
Prof. Martin Smith, President of the Cybernetics Society, has rejoined academia after seven years working in government. He is now Professor of Robotics at Middlesex University London. He also recently joined the Editorial Boards of three journals, which now include: The International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, The International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies, The International Journal of General Systems, The International Journal of Social Robotics, and Kybernetes the International Journal of Cybernetics, Systems and Management Sciences. He became a Director of WOSC - the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics, earlier this year.
OLKC 2014 Theme: "Circuits of Knowledge" Oslo 22-24 April 2014
The organisers write:"With the proposed theme "Circuits of knowledge" we hope the conference contributions may be inspired to further develop the organizational learning, knowledge and innovation literature through conceptual and empirical contributions. The metaphor is meant to open up explorations of how knowledge and organizational learning may be said to move or revolve around, in, and through circuits. Familiar concepts may be learning cycles and -loops, and the recursiveness of practice."
Dr Bernard Scott awarded 2013 McCulloch Medal
Our Council Member Dr B.C.E. Scott has been given the McCulloch Medal by the American Society of Cybernetics at their recent conference in Bolton University "for outstanding and profound lifelong contributions to nurturing cybernetics through the development of both cybernetically based praxis in education, and major theories concerning learning and the learnable". Full Citation.
Joint recipients were The Heinz von Foerster Society, "for an extensive, prolonged, deep and successful commitment to the furtherance of the work of Heinz von Foerster and other cyberneticians concerned with second-order cybernetics and related approaches and understandings". Full Citation.
Report of the American Society for Cybernetics Conference, 2013, University of Bolton, UK, July 30th - August 1st
The premise of the conference was not to listen to known answers, but to become involved in developing new questions. Dr Bernard Scott reports.
ASC President Dr Ranulph Glanville talks about his Theory of Objects (You Tube video).
First Global Conference on Research Integration and Implementation:
Linking networks, taking stock, planning for the future
The conference will be held in Canberra, Australia 8-11 September 2013.
- understanding problems as systems
- combining knowledge from various disciplines and practice areas
- dealing with unknowns to reduce risk, unpleasant surprises and adverse unintended consequences
- helping research teams collaborate more effectively
- implementing evidence in improved policy and practice.
Forthcoming Society Symposia
Discussion lunches/symposia will be held at Salieri's on the Strand from 2pm on 14th September 2013, 4th Jan and 12th April 2014. Please confirm attendance with an email to our Secretary. Non-members who wish to attend should contact our Secretary.
Council Meeting and AGM 23rd July
The Council Meeting and AGM was held on Tuesday 23rd July from 6:00 pm to approximately 9:00 pm in King's College, Building Q Room SW1.14, East Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 2LS. Access is either via the Somerset House courtyard or the King's College main entrance both in the Strand. The room is booked from 5:30.See location of building Q.
Minutes of the meetings.
From CYBCOM Randall Whitaker writes:"I'm sad to learn that Doug Engelbart has died, though I knew he'd been in frail health for some time.
"There are very, very few individuals to whom I've accorded unabashed admiration (i.e. 'personal hero' status). Doug was one of them.
"In spring 1991 I organized a study tour for Swedish IT and telecommunications professionals focusing on computer-mediated collaboration and collaborative technologies. A group of 25 - 30, subdivided into roving teams, visited a variety of R&D centers across North America. The centerpiece of the tour was a 3-day mini-conference at a resort in Tucson, for which we deliberately scheduled a single featured guest - Doug Engelbart. I had pushed for this based on my claim that research efforts at CERN (i.e. Tim Berners-Lee and company ...) held the promise of bringing Engelbart's ideas to widespread fruition.
"In his demonstrations (using some of his innovative equipment dating back decades) and two days of casual conversations, Engelbart showed us more of the future than we had garnered from all the other research visits combined. Even now - more than two decades later - I don't think I've ever seen anyone surf so much data so quickly and so effectively as this already-aged man did with his chord keyboard and antiquated electromechanical mouse. Even now the Web has yet to widely exploit the full extent of the hypertextual features he and his SRI colleagues built into their early NLS / AUGMENT systems.
"The cursory references to Engelbart as the originator of the mouse don't do justice to the full range of his (and his colleagues') insights, innovations, and vision. The SRI research wasn't just the seminal source for our current human-computer interaction modalities - it was also the primary inspiration for the Web as well as the everyday utility of the 'Net in general.
"This is why I jumped out of my poolside seat and walked over to greet him when he arrived at the Tucson resort. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and simply / earnestly said, "On behalf of more people than you may know - thank you!"
"Doug Engelbart was not only a significant visionary - he was by far the most generous and gracious visionary I've ever encountered.
"If you've never seen the 1968 presentation at which Engelbart and his SRI colleagues demonstrated the technological products of their research into augmenting human intelligence, I heartily recommend you do so. I don't know of any other single recorded event at which so much of so much significance was unveiled.
"I've long made this video mandatory viewing for students and colleagues - if for no other reason to illustrate that everything they began engaging as the Web circa 1993 had been demonstrated a quarter century earlier. Recognition of this protracted latency is both disconcerting and humbling."
Stanford University offers access to the 1968 presentation video (via selected clips, or the entire 100 minute event).
The 20th Annual International Deming Research Seminar
New York City 3-4 March 2014:
Call For Papers
The 20th Annual International Deming Research Seminar will bring together people from around the world, and from a variety of specialties, to enhance, extend, and illustrate Dr. Deming's theories.
Papers must be original work. Abstracts of 200 words or less should be sent by October 7, 2013 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science PhD Scholarship applications 2013
The Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS), Vienna, offers a scholarship for the support of work in systems science leading to a PhD-degree at an Austrian university.
Professor Raul Espejo, Director-General World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics writes: "I'm sad to inform you that Dr. Alex Andrew, that as you know was Director-General of WOSC until September 2011, passed away on the 31st of May, 2013. He was a distinguished scientist, who made significant contributions to Cybernetics."
Alex wrote an autobiographical piece for the International Journal of General Systems in February 2011. He will be greatly missed.
Alex Andrew's Cybernetics Society profile.
Our president Prof. Martin Smith attended Alex's funeral and reception at his home representing the Cybernetics Society and WOSC, as Raul Espejo (Director General of WOSC) and Brian Rudall (former Editor in Chief of Kybernetes) were both out of the country at the time.
Eulogy delivered by Dr. G. K. Wallace, Senior Lecturer (retired) at Reading Crematorium, All Hallows Road, Monday June 10th 2013.
SCiO courses: Viable System Model (VSM) Beginners (6th July) and Dynamics (3rd August)
Jane Searles writes: SCiO's introductory courses on the Viable System Model (VSM) by Patrick Hoverstadt of Fractal Consulting are running again this summer. These are open to all, at a cost of £20 for members and £50 for non-members, with a discounted rate of £20 for OU students on TU811 and TU812.
A Beginners Workshop in Modelling using the VSM
Milton Keynes, Saturday 6th July: more information.
Organisational Dynamics - VSM Intermediate
Milton Keynes, Saturday 3rd August: more information.
To book your place for either or both, please contact Roger Duck.
Saturday 13 April Cybernetics Society Symposium
Long lunch 2-4pm this Saturday at Salerii, 376 Strand, London, WC2R 0LQ.
Email David to be sure of a place please.
The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside
Exhibition 26th April 2013 to the 1st July 2013 Haus der Kulturen der Welt,
The exhibition and conference project emerges from the context of
cultural and scientific debates about the Anthropocene to investigate basic
questions of the "age of man", as well as negotiating the historical
relation between ecology and cybernetics. The exhibition project departs
from a particular moment in time: California of the 1960s and 70s.
California was not only a centre of the counterculture with its global
impact on music and other cultural productions, but also a laboratory
fusing diverse mind-sets and ideologies which influenced the current
"ecological paradigm" and "systems thinking".
Using materials from cultural history and artistic works, the exhibition
will critically explore the application of ecological-systemic concepts to
society, politics, and aesthetics. The transformation of romantic and
technophile ideas from the realm of counterculture and cybernetics led to
concepts of the system and self-management in network capitalism that have
a global impact today.
The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is an interdisciplinary space for
international contemporary arts and a forum for current developments and
discourse in Berlin. Throughout the years, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt
has ensured the development of a strong network of intercultural
co-operations with institutions and actors of the cultural and artistic
fields, offering them optimal conditions of presentation.
American Society of Cybernetics 2013 conference, "Acting, Learning,
Understanding)" Bolton UK 30 July to 1 August 2013
Dr Ranulph Glanville writes: The main conference is 30 July to 1 August
(3 days), inclusive. It is preceded by a 2 day pre-conference and followed
by a 2 day post-conference (which are free).
The conference is hosted by the Institute for Educational Cybernetics,
University of Bolton, UK.
Difference That Makes a Difference 8-10 April 2013
This is an interdisciplinary workshop on Information: Space, Time, and
Identity supported by Open University Department of Communication and
Systems and the MK Gallery.
FuturICT will build a Living Earth Platform, a simulation, visualization
and participation platform to support decision-making of policy-makers,
business people and citizens.
The proposal intends to unify hundreds of the best scientists in Europe
in a 10 year 1 billion EUR program to explore social life on earth and
everything it relates to.
The Society's Autumn Symposium to be held at Salieri 13th October
The meeting was postponed from 29th September but arrangements are as
usual starting at 2pm. Please email our secretary
Dr David Dewhurst if you would like to attend.
Location and details of Salieri Restaurant.
Cybernetics Society AGM & Council Meeting Tuesday 24th July 2012
6.30pm King's College, Strand
Our Secretary writes: Non Council members are welcome to attend the
initial Council meeting. All in room S0.03 (formerly GFSB5). Do contact me about anything which is unclear,
or additional agenda proposals. The next Conference is scheduled for
September 2013. Please send proposals for papers to myself initially.
Agenda and Minutes of last Council and AGM meeting.
GLOGIFT 2012 Twelfth Global Conference on Flexible Systems
University of Vienna, Austria July 30 - August 1, 2012. Flexibility and
agility are major themes see Call for papers.
"The Cybernetics of Self-Organisation, Learning and Evolution" Papers
1960-1972 by Gordon Pask selected and introduced by Bernard Scott.
Pask's learned papers are notoriously hard to get. There are 15 papers
here from for the early years including two previously unpublshed: "Some
mechanical Concepts of Goals, Individuals, Consciousness and Symbolic
Evolution" and "Essays on the Ethics and Aesthetics of Control". Neither is
trivial both are long substantial papers like the others in this fine
collection. In his forward Karl H. Mueller calls Pask "The Hidden Grand
Master of Cybernetics" this says it all. You will not find system analysis
done like this anywhere else. Dip in before you get started, you may need a
pad and pencil, but you will be intrigued and above all stimulated with
this fresh new take starting 52 years ago.
If you need reassurance look at some of the more familiar questions
discussed here like McCulloch's Redundancty of Potential Command (condition
for self-organisation) and von Foerster's development of it. Tucked away in
"Man as a System that Needs to Learn", page 280, is a discussion of this
claimed motivated his production of Conversation Theory and the later
Interactions of Actors Theory.
The P-Individual and its medium the M-Individual reach full flower by
the end of the collection accompanied by sundry "good ideas" waiting for
further development. Type I and Type II analogies, extensive discussions of
the nature of "goal" and his L0, L1 and L*
languages come to mind. Particularly striking, in his "Comments on the
Cybernetics of Ethical, Sociological, Psychological Systems", are four
types of Law appled by arbitrators, each new type dependent on the
existence of the preceeding type.
- The Natural History of Networks
- The Cybernetics of Evolutionary Processes and of Self Organizing
- Learning Machines
- The Use of Analogy and Parable in Cybernetics with Emphasis Upon
Analogies for Learning and Creativity
- Comments on the Cybernetics of Ethical, Sociological and
- Man as a System that Needs to Learn
- A Cybernetic Model for some Types of Learning and Mentation
- Models for Social Systems and for Their Languages
- Some Mechanical Concepts of Goals, Individuals, Consciousness and
- Cognitive Systems
- The Meaning of Cybernetics in the Behavioural Sciences
- Essays on the Ethics and Aesthetics of Control
- Interaction between Indviduals: its Stability and Style
- Anti- Hodmanship: A Report on the State and Prospects of CAI
- A Fresh Look at Cognition and the Individual
There is much treasure in Scott's collection and as Pask's most
sustained collaborator he is to be congratulated on his choices and his
guide to the material.
"Gordon Pask: The Cybernetics of Self-Organisation, Learning and
Evolution Papers 1960-1972" Selected and Introduced by Dr Bernard Scott pp
An Ecology of Ideas: ASC and BIG at Asilomar, California, 9-13 July
The American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) and Bateson Idea Group (BIG)
come together to hold a conference on the relations among ideas as seen
from multiple perspectives. We come from many disciplines but have common
roots including cybernetics, circularity, reflexivity, language, culture
and systems. For many of us these roots are enmeshed with biology,
information, pattern, design, art, aesthetics, ethics and more.
Cybernetic Revolutionaries- Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile
by Eden Medina
MIT Press ISBN-13:978-0-262-01649-0
Prof Raul Espejo, who was Operational Director of Project Cybersyn,
reviews the book.
From the publishers: A history of two intersecting utopian visions, one
political and one technological. The first was Chile's experiment with
peaceful socialist change under Salvador Allende; the second was the
simultaneous attempt to build a computer system that would manage Chile's
economy. Neither vision was fully realized--Allende's government ended with
a violent military coup; the system, known as Project Cybersyn, was never
completely implemented--but they hold lessons for today about the
relationship between technology and politics.
This history further shows how human attempts to combine the political
and the technological with the goal of creating a more just society can
open new technological, intellectual, and political possibilities.
Technologies, Medina writes, are historical texts; when we read them we are
Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century
Boston March 2014
IEEE write: During his life Dr Norbert Wiener influenced mathematics,
philosophy, science, technology, ethics, biology, prosthetics, education,
manufacturing and other fields. Cyberspace is named after his
multidisciplinary approach, "cybernetics". He was an early practitioner of
diversity and social inclusion, and an advocate of social responsibility in
the development of technology. This conference will look at his ideas and
the influence they have today.
It is part of a renewed interest in Dr Wiener's work, an interest that
is being reflected in research, writing and practice, and in both old and
Call for participation ISSS San Jose 2012
Service Systems, Natural Systems
San Jose, California USA, July 15-20
The systems sciences provide a platform of concepts and language that
enables communities of interest to transcend disciplinary boundaries
towards developing new knowledge and perspectives. The ISSS 2012 theme of
Service Systems, Natural Systems draws attention to complex issues in
today's world, where dialogue amongst the learned may lead to better
The Cybernetic State
Video of Javier
Livas talking at Manchester Business School about modelling the State
and Law with Stafford Beer's Viable System Model.
His book "The Cybernetic State" can be obtained on request from the author (email@example.com) in
Call for Abstracts, Papers & Workshops, 8th. HSSS National &
Systems Approach to Strategic Management
Department of Applied Informatics, University of Macedonia. 5 - 7 July,
2012, Thessaloniki, Greece
The organisers invite:
- Academics: Communicate your research results with colleagues around
- Consultants: Present the power of systems thinking, modeling and
simulation in your applied, client-oriented work.
- Practitioners: Show modeling and simulation at work in your
- Graduate students: Share your developing research in a constructive
- Undergraduate students: Have a good experience within a challenging
and professional environment.
Call for papers, 11th International Conference of
Complexity and Social Action: Interaction and Multiple Systems
2- 6 of July, Algarve University, Faro, Portugal
Recent events throughout the globe have put into perspective the need
for new theory settings, new approaches and new insights into the current
social dynamics that many consider on a verge of rupture. Financial crises,
social uprisings, forced governmental collapses, and increasing
inequalities within several spheres of the social world are some of the
events that necessarily put collective and individual social action into
It is no longer possible to think of social phenomena in a disconnected
way, since their foundations and limits are not clear. The understanding of
social action and interaction, as cause and consequence of social
phenomenon, depends on the capacity to consider and analyze all
possibilities in action systems, their diversity and relations integrating
micro, macro and meso perspectives. It is therefore, imperative for the
sociocybernetic approach to address such a challenge.
The study of the interaction between multiple systems can be a useful
and sound new way of thinking, especially if it follows a transdisciplinary
approach. From the variety of subjects relevant in this respect, the next
RC51 2012 Conference in Faro, will emphasize the following:
- Decision Making and Action: Decision making is a highly complex
embodied process resulting from the concerted action of a diverse set of
interconnected systems that allow for the development of social action
under the uncertainty that the future holds. Under this theme, we intend
to explore the complexity of the intra-systemic and inter-systemic
pathways framing decision-making and subsequent social action.
- Violence: Violence is an interconnected system, socially and
culturally produced and reproduced, and therefore embedded in
individuals, institutions and states. The production of violence is a
phenomenon with deep interconnections between the social, cultural,
biological, emotional and symbolic systems. The discussion between the
articulation of the individual system (composed of
responses/actions/reactions/interactions), and the social and cultural
system which provide the actor with the symbolic, and many times,
unconscious tolls of actions and interactions, is crucial to advance the
production of knowledge in this area.
- Social Movements: The new social movements, now emerging in many
countries, with different levels of economic development, combine a
variety of new dimensions that exceed previously sociologically
knowledge. The sociological analysis of these movements' actions
requires, primarily, an intersystem approach of the complexity of all its
dimensions, and secondly, two other dimensions of the social actors'
selves: the relationship between themselves and the relationship that
each social actor wants to have with old and new groups, organizations
Papers are welcomed which address these issues. Beyond that other papers
addressing conceptual and theoretical issues in sociocybernetics or
reporting relevant empirical findings are also welcomed.
11 PhD Scholarships in the Hull University Business School
The Centre for Systems Studies, based in the Business School at the
University of Hull (UK), has a strong international reputation for its
cutting edge work on the theory, methodology and practice of systems
thinking. The Business School is currently advertising 11 PhD scholarships:
7 paid for by the University, and 4 paid for by the Business School
We would like to strongly encourage people with exciting research ideas
in the broad field of systems thinking to apply for these scholarships.
While there will be applicants across all the research interests of the
Business School, and the scholarships are allocated on merit, the Centre
for Systems Studies has always previously been able to put forward several
strong candidates, and we hope to be able to do so again this year.
Please click on the links below for details of the two types of
scholarship. Applicants need to apply for both a PhD place and a
scholarship by 2 March 2012, with a view to starting a full-time PhD in
Kybernetes Call for Editor
Emerald is seeking to recruit an engaged and enthusiastic Editor or
Editors to develop the journal. The journal Editor/s will be responsible
for the following:
- Managing the journal's double blind peer review process with the
assistance of the Editorial Advisory Board
- Selecting and maintaining a pool of competent reviewers
- Delivering appropriate content for ten journal issues per volume to
an agreed schedule
- Upholding and developing editorial standards on the journal, through
the good management of the peer review process
- Engaging the Editorial Advisory Board in the work of the journal
- Developing and maintaining a network of contacts to act as advocates
for the journal or sources of content as appropriate
- Attending conferences or similar events to promote the journal and
- Working with the journal Publisher (at Emerald) to achieve agreed
development objectives for the journal and to raise its international
profile and standing
The journal Editor receives an honorarium in lieu of his/her work on the
journal. Additional budget is also made available to the Editor to
part-fund attendance at conferences or other events of relevance to the
Qualifications and requirements of candidates
Some of the key qualities sought for the position of Editor are:
- An established record of scholarship in the field of cybernetics,
systems or management science
- A high level of ability/achievement in mathematics and its use in the
fields covered by the journal
- Managerial skills to oversee the editorial cycle and to meet
- The ability to inspire an active Editorial Advisory Board
- Energy, enthusiasm and networking skills to promote the journal and
to encourage submissions
- A willingness to chase reviewers when necessary and to demand the
highest standards in review and revision
- A willingness to develop the journal in line with the changing nature
of the subject area, to ensure the journal continues to publish the best,
most relevant and cutting-edge research in the field
- Previous editorial experience, such as Editor, Guest Editor or
Editorial Advisory Board Member on an academic journal
- Experience of using online submission and peer review systems such as
ScholarOne Manuscripts is desirable
Kybernetes will be taking advantage of the ScholarOne Manuscripts online
submission and review system. The new editorial team will receive full
training and support.
Interested individuals are invited to submit a CV and a proposal
outlining how they would seek to develop the journal over the course of
their editorship. Proposals from individuals and small teams of 2-3
candidates will be considered. It is anticipated that the new Editor will
assume responsibility for the journal in June 2012.
Your application should include a covering letter describing:
- your goals and plans for the content of Kybernetes. This may include
an assessment of the current strengths, weaknesses, or gaps that you plan
- previous editorial experience
- attendance at cybernetics, systems and management science conferences
during the last five years
- a clear description of the structure of the editorial team and
responsibilities, where it is a team application; support, if any,
offered by your institution
- A current CV
Applications and any queries for this position should be submitted by 1
March 2012, by e-mail, to:
Ruth Glasspool, Publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, Emerald Group
The Cybernetic State at Manchester Business School: Seminar and book by
Trevor E. Hilder writes: Cybernetics takes a surprising hard look into
the State and the Law and explains their co-evolution within an
increasingly complex, dynamic, viable system that places Law, Politics and
Economics under one roof.
Javier Livas is a Mexican human rights lawyer and businessman who
recently stood as a PAN Party candidate for the presidency of Mexico.
The seminar will take place at Manchester Business School between 3:00
pm and 5:00 pm in room 1.34.1 (West) on Thursday 2nd February.
Free download of Livas' The
Cybernetic State: The Unity of Economics, Law and Politics"
Cybernetics Society Spring Symposium to be held at Salieri 14th April
Arrangements as usual starting at 2pm. Please email our secretary
Dr David Dewhurst if you would like to attend.
Location and details of Salieri Restaurant.
"Signal processing and inference for the physical sciences" at the
This is a two day Royal Society Discussion Meeting
to be held on 26th-27th March 2012.
The organisers, Dr Nick Jones and Dr Thomas Maccarone, say "Speakers
cover applications across astrophysics, biological physics, geophysics and
earth sciences and meet those from applied mathematics, computer science,
engineering and statistics. We aim to open the world of new methods for
data analysis to the physical scientist and accelerate the integration of
data analysts into physical science".
Admission is free and tickets should be booked
"A Systems View of Economics- Tools for Thought"
Dr David Dewhurst, secretary of The Cybernetics Society, will give this
talk at Tent City University on Wednesday 14th December 2011 in St Paul's
Churchyard, ECM4 8AD from 3pm to 4pm.
Forthcoming: EMCSR Vienna April 10-13 2012, ASC Monterey California
July 9-13 2012
President of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) Dr Ranulph
Glanville writes: The EMCSR (European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems
Research) conference series was founded in 1972. At the last meeting in
2010, Robert Trappl, who had chaired it since its beginning, retired. The
new chair, Wolfgang Hofkirchner, who directs the Bertalanffy Archive in
Vienna, has just published the outline program for next spring's
There are changes in how the conference will be run. For instance, round
table discussions are welcome. There will be a pre and post doc colloquium.
There are new symposia and symposium chairs. And the process for submission
and publication is different, with extended abstracts for proposals, and
papers written in final form after the conference, for publication.
Please note the symposia (look under programme >> symposia). Apart
from symposium E, chaired by Karl Mueller and myself, there are other
symposia that cover a wide range of different approaches and areas.
I invite you all to have a look at the programme and, if you find the
conference interesting, exciting and/or relevant, to make arrangements to
be there. Check out the web site. Vienna
is lovely in mid-April.
At the same time, let me advise you of the American Society for
Cybernetics' conference, 9 to 13 July, at Asilomar State Park Conference
Centre, California, to be held in conjunction with the Bateson Idea Group.
This promises to be a richly interesting event, and will remind us that
there many sources of today's cybernetics, and many ways forward. This
conference is in the week before the ISSS conference at San Jose: we are
planing a special, reduced rate for those attending both. The conference
web site will be launched in the new year, and will be accessible through
the ASC home page.
A new book by a Member of Council of the Society
Bernard Scott "Explorations in Second-Order Cybernetics: Reflections on
Cybernetics,Psychology and Education"
Dr Scott worked for ten years
with Gordon Pask and practised in schools, psychology, technology and
higher education. He says cybernetics "transformed my way of being in the
Ranulph Glanvile, president of the American Cybernetics Society,
writes:"...It presents his retelling of work he did with Pask, and work he
has done since. His own solo work demonstrates how significant a
contributor he was to Pask and how his [Scott's] understandings have their
own value, which is sometimes, but only sometimes, placed in the service of
Pask.... It is a wonderful collection. Each paper is a gem, showing the
mind of an exceptionally decent and gifted academic behaving - and thinking
- with fairness and flair. I hope that each reader will enjoy, and benefit
from it, as much as I have."
Further information and
Nicholas Shaxson's "Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole
Sequester Offshore Funds? Shaxson estimates around 25% of Gross World Product
(GWP- around $41 trillion) or $10 trillion is held in secret Offshore bank
accounts owned by banks, multinational companies, kleptocrats, terrorists,
drug traffickers and ordinary individuals. Client confidentiality protects
from tax authority investigation. This is the undiscussed component of the
current and any future economic crisis.
International Authorities might, at the very least, agree improved
performance reporting for governments and enterprises of all kinds as
recommended by International Auditors in Global Capital
Markets and the Global Economy at their 2006 Paris Global Public Policy
The confidence of tax-payers and investors can only be maintained with
real-time web based reporting particularly given the current crisis. The
cybernetics is plain and simple: systems that are not properly instrumented
will go out of control.
"Treasure Islands" by Nicholas
Shaxon Bodley Head 2011.
Shaxson on You Tube.
Prof Raul Espejo appointed Director-General of the World Organization
of Systems and Cybernetics (WOSC)
Congratulations to Professor Espejo whose fame as Operational Director
of the CYBERSYN Project
has made him a leading authority on the cybernetics of Government. Our
thankful appreciation goes to his distinguished predecesor Dr Alex Andrew.
Cybernetics Society Winter Symposium to be held at Salieri 7th January
Arrangements as before starting around 2pm with an email to our
Dr David Dewhurst if you would like to attend.
Cybernetics Society Symposium 2011 24th September
The Symposium will be held on Saturday 24th September starting at 2pm in
Salieri Restaurant on Strand, London (opposite
The Savoy). Our Secretary writes: "While it should be possible to
accommodate members who don't notify the Secretary in advance we anticipate
smoother running if you do. Individual bills are typically close to
Click here to notify
Cybernetics Society 2011 AGM
The 2011 Annual General Meeting of our Society will be held in room
K0.17 (South Range 4) from 6:00 to 9:00 at King's College, London on
Wednesday 27th July.
Ideas of objectivity: International Interdisciplinary Workshop
- Organism-niche unity
- Humanness in human living
- Unitary epistemology
With Humberto Maturana (Escuela Matriztica de Santiago, Chile) and
Christoph Reinfandt (University of Tübingen) Tübingen, November
Application deadline: July 15th, 2011.
The international interdisciplinary workshop is part of this year's
"Unseld Lecture at the Forum Scientiarum of Tübingen University-
initiated and sponsored by the Udo Keller Foundation Forum Humanum". We
invite graduate students and junior scientists from across a broad
interdisciplinary field including all social and cultural studies as well
as natural sciences to apply for this international workshop on "Ideas of
Cybernetics Society 2011 Conference
No theme has yet been decided and suggestions or proposals for both
short and long papers are invited to the Secretary. The Conference is usually held
on the second Saturday of September.
5th International Heinz von Foerster Congress 10th to 13th November
Gerhard Grössing, Albert Müller and Karl H. Müller write:
Again, the University of Vienna will be the venue of discussions on the
efforts as well as the effects of Heinz von Foerster's work and life.
It is only one of the special aims of this yearÂ’s
conference to celebrate von Foerster's 100th birthday. As to celebrating
his work, we deem it appropriate to start with implications of Heinz von
Foerster's early works, as represented by his early quantum-physical
interpretation of memory and by his seminal work on self-organizing systems
in the early 1960ies. Accordingly, this tear's conference moves along two
quite different and- nevertheless- related tracks.
- Emergent Quantum Mechanics (primarily targeted audience: physicists);
convened by Gerhard GrÃ¶ssing
- Emergence and self organisation in the worlds of society and nature
(primarily targeted audience: specialists in sciences and humanities, and
a general audience); convened by Albert Müller and Karl H.
There is a conference web-site online (to
be updated permanently throughout the next months)
The conference will take place at the main building of the University of
Vienna from 10th to 13th November 2011. There will be special seminars
before and after the conference, and a series of documentary films on
topics related to cybernetics to be seen at a Viennese cinema.
Registration is possible from now onwards. To register as a participant
of the conference, please send an informal e-mail using
Â“registrationÂ” as a subject line. There is no
registration or entrance fee.
The 5th International Heinz von Foerster Conference is sponsored by the
Austrian Ministry of Science and Research, the City of Vienna, and Blaha
Büromöbel. Co-organizers are the Heinz von Foerster Society,
WISDOM, Dept. of Contemporary History, University of Vienna, Austrian
Institute for Nonlinear Studies in cooperation with the American Society
ISSS Conference at HUBS July 17-22 2011
Dr. Angela Espinoza writes: Hull University Business School is
organising this year the 55th Meeting of the International Society for the
Systems Sciences, joining with KSS2011 International Symposium for
Knowledge and Systems Sciences. The theme is "All together now
Â– working across disciplines: People, principles and
practice". Hull University Business School, Hull, UK. From July 17-22,
Contact Angela with your
abstracts if you would like to join a Special Interest Group on
Jerome (Jerry) Lettvin
Dr. Alex Andrew writes: "Jerry Lettvin died on
Saturday 23rd April. He leaves his wife Maggie (who has indicated she would
like to be left in peace at present) and sons David and Jonathan and
daughter Ruth. I got the sad news in a phone call from Brad Howland who was
also a member of the research group around Warren McCulloch."
Memorial Page and Blog. Boston Globe
American Cybernetics Society 2011 Conference: "Listening"
ASC president Dr. Ranulph Glanville writes: We regard listening as the
key act that turns talking into conversation. However, we use these words
metaphorically, and not just literally: we do not mean to concentrate on
the aural senses, but on the idea that it is the recipient who gives
meaning to what they hear. This is how they release the potential in a
statement made by another into conversation, whether the conversation is in
words, acts, gestures, or indeed any other medium of communication. This
can lead to the development of understanding of the other so important in
human relations (perhaps specially in fields such as psycho-therapy,
management, education and music).
Our conference is organised around informal and generous conversations
in small groups, but has space for formal paper presentations and
performances. We are also inviting experiential workshops. The conference
itself will be held in Richmond, Indiana, USA, and begins in the evening of
10 August and runs to the evening of 13 August 2001. There is a sliding
scale of charges. For those attending, there are free add-on events before
Please visit the
conference web site.
Note: applicants for the conference need to fill in a statement
of interest (no more than a paragraph). Click on register in the middle of
Early registration by 10th May entities you to the Early Bird
A sense of last yearÂ’s conference can be found here.
Infowar or Cyberwar?
From The Register:The
Anonymous group of hacktivists and Wikileaks infowar
"The hacktivist collective Anonymous, operating under the banner
Operation:Payback, has continued to mount various types of hacking attacks
including DDoS strikes- supplemented by the use of illegal botnets- against
targets assessed as being anti-Wikileaks..."
Sir Maurice Wilkes
The father of British computing died peacefully around 7am on Monday
29th November aged 97. BBC News writes. The
Register, biting the hand that feeds IT, reports Wilkes
reaches EOL. Obituaries from
Telegraph and British Computer
In 2004 Sir
Maurice gave his "Progress
in Computers" to the Cambridge Computer Lab. The clarity of his views
are a model for us all.
Mandelbrot inventor of fractal geometry died on 14th October. There is
a fascinating and detailed biographical video interview at web of stories. Arthur C.
Clarke said the Mandelbrot set was the most extraordinary discovery in the
history of mathematics. The Society adopted his set for it's logo in
Cybernetics of Cybernetics-a competition
The American Society for Cybernetics is delighted to announce a
competition (open to all, prize fund up to US$ 1500) to propose cybernetic
ways in which a Society for cybernetics might be organised and behave. This
follows a suggestion from Margaret Mead, the founding mother of cybernetics
summarised below. Submissions should be received by noon, GMT, on 31
January 2011. Full
"We welcome your interest and your suggestions!" writes Ranulph
Glanville President, ASC.
Ernst von Glasersfeld on Radical Constructivism
Ernst von Glasersfeld concisely discusses Radical Constructivism
in his after dinner speech at the ASC 2010 Summer Conference: Cybernetics:
Art, Design, Mathemetics- a MetaDisciplinary Conversation. A video impression of the
conference was made by Lev Ledit with Judy Lombardi.
Gregory Bateson Documentary
"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference
between how nature works and the way people think." (Gregory Bateson
1904-1980 Cybernetician and Anthropologist)
This film was made by Bateson's daughter Nora and is to be shown at film
World Organisation of Cybernetics and Systems (WOSC) 2011 Nanjing
September 15 to 18, 2011
The 15th WOSC International Congress on Cybernetics and
Systems will be held jointly with IEEE International Conference on Grey
Systems and Intelligent Services.
Alex Andrew (Director-General of WOSC) writes: Nanjing (formerly
Nanking) is the capital of the Jiangsu Province and one of the Four Great
Ancient Capitals of China, with a wealth of cultural and natural sites.
Systems and Cybernetics in Organisations (SCiO) Events for
SCiO is focused primarily on
systems practice and practitioners rather than on pure theory and on
systems practice as applied to issues of organisation. The forthcoming
program of Professional Development and Open meetings will be held in
Manchester at the Business School,
London and at the Open University in
Milton Keynes. Further
- Systems from Scratch - Penny Marrington
- The application of the VSM in Local Authority Development Control
Services - Catherine Wynn
- Craft Skills Workshop - Recursive Structures and Logic - Patrick
- Perceptual Control Theory and its Application to Organisations -
- Modelling Multi-Methodology & Multi-Agency Working - Patrick
- OMM - a powerful Organisational Maturity tool - Dave Mettam &
- Craft Skills Workshop - Developing Transparency & Trust - Aidan
- Taming Organisational Complexity - Stephen Brewis
SCiO Autumn 2010 Newsetter (.pdf).
Reform of Banking IT vital for better regulation
From The Economist July 22nd 2010: The software used by Banks appears to
be an ad hoc fragile mix of patches with no robust design philosophy. One
"dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur" is reported as saying he hates programmers
as they only cause trouble. No doubt screams of horror from experts can and
should cause trouble for incompetent banking executives whose ignorance of
performance seems to have produced a world recession.
Annual General Meeting
The Society's 2010 AGM will be held on Tuesday 27th July. The times are
as usual: Council Meeting 6:00 for 6:30 and AGM at 7:15 in Room GFSB 3
(Ground Floor Strand Building Room 3 ) at King's College, Strand, London.
Please note the change from the usual room.
Venter Institute produces first living cell with synthetic DNA
"For nearly 15 years Ham Smith, Clyde Hutchison and the rest of our team
have been working toward this publication today -- the successful
completion of our work to construct a bacterial cell that is fully
controlled by a synthetic genome," said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., founder and
president, JCVI and senior author on the paper.
Full text of press release.
Richard Gregory FRS
Richard Gregory, a friend of cybernetics, died on 17 May 2010 at the
Bristol Royal Infirmary, having suffered a stroke a few days earlier.There
is a charming long autobiographical interview at webofstories.com (formerly
Lovelock changes his mind mind on Global Warming?
Quoted by Bert
Rutan in slide 84 of his An Engineer's
Critique of Global Warming "Science":
Dr. James Lovelock in March 2010: At London's Science Museum Dr Lovelock
said: "If we hadn't appeared on the earth, it would be due to go through
another ice age... greenhouse gases that have warmed the planet are likely
to prevent a big freeze... .We're just fiddling around. It is worth
thinking that what we are doing in creating all these carbon emissions, far
from being something frightful, is stopping the onset of a new ice age...we
can look at our part as holding that up...I hate all this business about
feeling guilty about what we're doing... . We're not guilty, we never
intended to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, it's just something we did."
He compared today's climate change controversy to the "wildly
inaccurate" early work on aerosol gases and their alleged role in depletion
of the ozone layer: "Quite often, observations done by hand are accurate
but all the theoretical stuff in between tends to be very dodgy and I think
they are seeing this with climate change... .We haven't learned the lessons
of the ozone-hole debate. It's important to know just how much you have got
to be careful"
"I think you have to accept that the skeptics have kept us sane... .
They have been a breath of fresh air. They have kept us from regarding the
science of climate change as a religion. It has gone too far that way.
There is a role for skeptics in science. They shouldn't be brushed aside.
It is clear that the 'angel side' wasn't without sin".
Andrew Pickering: "The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another
From the publishers: Cybernetics - roughly, the study of systems - is
often thought of as a grim science of control. But as Andrew Pickering
reveals in this beguiling book, a much more lively and experimental strain
of cybernetics can be traced from the 1940s to the present. "The Cybernetic
Brain" explores a largely forgotten group of British thinkers, including
Grey Walter, Ross Ashby, Gregory Bateson, R. D. Laing, Stafford Beer, and
Gordon Pask, and their singular work in a dazzling array of fields.
Psychiatry, engineering, management, politics, music, architecture,
education, tantric yoga, the Beats, and the '60s counterculture all come
into play as Pickering follows the history of cybernetics' impact on the
world, from contemporary robotics and complexity theory to the Chilean
economy under Salvador Allende. What underpins this fascinating history,
Pickering contends, is a shared but unconventional vision of the world as
ultimately unknowable, a place where genuine novelty is always emerging.
Thus, Pickering avers, the history of cybernetics provides us with an
imaginative model of open-ended experimentation in stark opposition to the
modern urge to achieve domination over nature and each other.
"The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future" by John Andrew
Pickering ISBN 978-0226667898 Chicago University Press 2010 536 pages
Vanilla Beer and Dr. Roger Harnden
review at Amazon (UK).
Cybernetics: Art, Design, Mathematics Â— A
Meta-Disciplinary Conversation (C:ADM2010)
The event will be held in New York at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental
Media & Performance Arts Center in the Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute, Troy from the evening of July 30 2010 to late afternoon on
August 2 2010 with surrounding events on July 29 and 30, and August 3 to 5.
Three recent books
Think before you Think
This first is a most important collection of papers and unpublished
writings of Stafford Beer edited by David Whittaker (author of "Stafford Beer: a
personal memoir"). Contents include "The Laws of Anarchy", "The Will of
the People", Beer's own reflections on his famous Viable System Model,
extracts from the unfinished autobiography from which the collection takes
its title and a selection of Beer's poetry and paintings. Simply put this
is required reading for cyberneticians. The general reader is well
supported with the editor's Appendix C "Cybernetics in a Nutshell". "Think
before you Think: Social Complexity and Knowledge of Knowing" Edited by
David Whittaker, Foreword by Brian Eno. ISBN 9780954519469 Wavestone Press
2009 384 pages £20.00.
Levitt and Dubner examine the homeostats of perverse economic incentive
in, for example, prostitution, suicide bombing, altruism, cheap solutions
to big problems (including hospital acquired infections), and global
cooling. There is never a dull moment in this witty and innovative
quantitative economic analysis that repeats the earlier success of
"Freakonomics" (Charlie Rose video interview).
"SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide
Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J.
Dubner ISBN 0060889578 John Morrow 2009 288 pages £20.00.
John Duffield presents physics with all it's deficiencies to the
critical lay reader. He gives a brisk, popular but detailed account and
brings the Williamson Model of the electron, as a self-closed photon, to a
wider readership. In the process, for example, he covers the weaknesses of
the Standard Model, Gravity, Black Holes and the neglected importance of
the governing permeability and permittivity of free space. Here is a
physics for cyberneticians enabled by Gordon Pask's 1992 mysterious
assertion that a doubly twisted torus topology is required for analogy and
dependence. In this book it is applied to the electron. There are 12 pages
of commented references, many on the web. "Relativity+: The Theory of
Everything" by John Duffield ISBN 9780956097804 Corella 2009 222 pages
KES-AMSTA 2010 - Call for Papers and Invited Sessions Proposals
4th International KES Symposium on Agents and Multi-agent Systems (23-25
June 2010, Gdynia, Poland) is an international scientific symposium for
research in agent and multi-agent systems.
Prof. P. Jedrzejowicz and Prof. N.T. Nguyen invite submissions of papers
and proposals for invited sessions. Further details.
4th International Heinz von Forster Congress on Learning
To be held at the University of Vienna 12th - 14th November 2009.
Speakers include John Holland, Margaret Boden, Ernst von Glasersfeld,
Stuart Umpelby, Pille Bunnell, Bernard Scott and Ranulph Glanville.
There is no fee for the conference. Further details.
Voting on Google Project 10100 closes October 8th
Proposals are presented concerning real-world issue reporting, science
and engineering education, genocide alerting, health monitoring, free
online education, innovation in public transport, landmine removal,
user-reported news, education in Africa, transparency in government,
natural crisis tracking, support for social entrepreneurs, urban data
collection, better banking tools, improving the image of scientists and
engineers, support for socially conscious tax policies.
A repository of real-time alerting statistics would support most of
these desiderata with the subsequent application of modelling e.g. Beer's VSM. The
commercial opportunities in relieving poverty and misery are not apparent
so one concludes that, though worthy, this not as cybernetically stable as
we might like.
Voting and further
The Cybernetics Society 2009 Annual Conference
This year's conference was held on September 12th at King's College.
Programme, abstracts and
supporting materials received. The speakers were:-
- Dr. John Williamson, Glasgow University, "Complexity from Simplicity:
the Nature of Light and Matter"
- Dr. Artemis Papert, daughter of Seymour Papert, "In the Beginning was
- Prof. Robert Vallée, President of WOSC, "Observation Operators
- Dr. Alex Andrew, Director General of WOSC. "Strong AI, Continuity and
- Dr. Helmut Nechansky, Consultant in Systems Engineering, Vienna,
"Miller's Living Systems and Beer's Viable Systems"
- David Buckley, Founder of Foundation Robotics, "A Tour of European
Historical Robots and Cybernetic Art"
- Dr Janos Korn, Middlesex University, "Science and Design of
- Jasia Reichardt, Curator, "The Frankenstein Monster"
Dr Alex M. Andrew Wiener Medalist 2009
CybCon 2009 was pleased to congratulate Dr Alex Andrew who was awarded
the Wiener Medal by
Professor Robert Vallée, President of the World Organization of
Systems and Cybernetics, for his many contibutions to our field. The Medal
was instituted by Professor John Rose who founded WOSC.
On this auspicious occasion Professor Brian Rudall Editor-in-Chief of
Kybernetes and Director and Head of the Norbert Wiener Institute presented
Alex with the Emerald (who publish Kybernetes) Literati Network 2009
Outstanding Reviewer Award for his work on Kybernetes in 2008.
We at the Society treasure Alex's talks to the Society and his work in
Cybernetics both at the bench and in his teaching and writing. Alex is a
trustee of the Society.
Two new books by members of the Society
A Missing Link in Cybernetics by Alex Andrew
The relative failure of
attempts to analyze and model intelligence can be attributed in part to the
customary assumption that the processing of continuous variables and the
manipulation of discrete concepts should be treated separately. Dr Alex
Andrew considers concept-based thought as having evolved from processing of
continuous variables. Although "fuzzy" theory acknowledges the need to
combine conceptual and continuous processing, its assumption of the primacy
of concept-based processing makes it evolutionarily implausible. The text
begins by reviewing the origins and aims of cybernetics with particular
reference to Warren McCulloch's declared lifetime quest of "understanding
man's understanding". It is shown that continuous systems can undergo
complex self-organization, but a need for classification of situations
becomes apparent and can be seen as the evolutionary beginning of
concept-based processing. Possibilities for complex self-organization are
emphasized by discussion of a general principle that has been termed
significance feedback, of which backpropagation of errors in neural nets is
a special case.
It is also noted that continuous measures come to be associated with
processing that is essentially concept-based, as acknowledged in Marvin
Minsky's reference to heuristic con nection between problems, and the
associated basic learning heuristic of Minsky and Selfridge. This
reappearance of continuity, along with observations on the multi-layer
structure of intelligent systems, supports a potentially valuable view of
intelligence as having a fractal nature. This is such that structures at a
complex level, interpreted in terms of these emergent measures, reflect
others at a simpler level. Implications for neuroscience and Artificial
Intelligence are also examined.
The book presents unconventional and challenging viewpoints that will be
of interest to researchers in AI, psychology, cybernetics and systems
science, and should help promote further research.
"A Missing Link in Cybernetics: Logic and Continuity" (IFSR
International Series on Systems Science & Engineering)
see inside at Amazon. Hardcover, Springer 2009, ISBN:
Science and Design of Systems by Janos Korn
Conventional science views
parts of the world as phenomena classified according to shared properties,
which are used to create mathematical relations or models that translate
notions, fundamental or not, into refutable relationships by exposing them
to the test of experience. There is another view of parts of the world, the
view of related objects, the 'systemic view' of complexity and hierarchy,
which is claimed to be pervasive and indivisible.
The aim of this book is to show how to convert the systemic view into
systems science by following the method of conventional science to model
aspects of the immense variety and diversity of objects (natural,
technical, living, human and their conceivable combinations) and their
activities. Having identified the fundamental notions, which are:
qualitative as well as quantitative properties, objects and their
relations, and interactions by means of flow of energy or information, the
latter are organised into inferential structures using mathematics of
'ordered pairs' and predicate logic statements capable of carrying
mathematics and/or measures of uncertainties. These structures are
constructed to enable relations or energy and/or information to propagate,
to produce an outcome as emergent property or final state, the
possibilities of occurrence of which can now be investigated.
A design methodology, elicitation of requirements and a view and design
of organisations and management are introduced using the inferential
structures. Systematic thinking about actual, and as yet nonexistent,
future scenarios, including human activities, has become possible. However,
the unpredictability of living in particular human behaviour introduces
additional uncertainty into, and opens debate about, the use of a formal
"Science and Design of Systems"
see inside at Amazon. Matador 2009, ISBN: 978-1848761155.
Call for Symposium C, 20th European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems
The Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research will be held at the
University of Vienna, Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th April, 2010.
Symposium C will explore what is often called second order cybernetics.
In 1968, Margaret Mead, one of the Macy Group that included Norbert
WienerÂ—who in 1948 wrote the seminal and unifying text
"Cybernetics"Â—suggested that the American Society for
Cybernetics should consider the way it wished to operate as a society in
the light of understandings developed in cybernetics itself: the society
for cybernetics should itself be subject to cybernetic analysis and
development. This reflexive approach became generalised into what Heinz von
Foerster called Second Order Cybernetics, cybernetics where the nature of
the circularity in systems is taken seriously (e.g., the controlling
element of a system is itself controlled by the remainder of the system,
which it is controlling).
The second order cybernetic approach is at the heart of understandings
of interaction, conversation and the creating of the new, all of which are
central to understandings of the behaviour of humans together, and growing
in importance in research. In second order cybernetics, the observer is
recognised as present: Foerster described it as the cybernetics of
observing (as opposed to observed) systems. Some believe that it returns to
the basic understandings that drove the original formation of cybernetics,
and is close to what many of the early cyberneticians, including Bateson,
Mead and Wiener, and von Foerster, Pask and Ashby had in mind: in effect,
that all cybernetics is second order, in origin. The symposium will be
chaired by Ranulph Glanville.
Paper submission: November 10 2009
Notification of acceptance: December 15 2009
Final papers: 5 February 2010
Fransisco Varela: A DVD
perhaps best known for his work with Maturana on autopoiesis or
Roger Harnden writes:
A wonderful DVD
based on Varela's life and ideas. Beautiful quality and production, as well
as casting light on many of his ideas and autopoiesis.
Annual General Meeting
The Society's 2009 AGM will be held on Tuesday 28th July. The times are
as usual: Council Meeting 6:30 and AGM at around 7:15 in the Council Room
at King's College, London.
Gordon Pask's work in Architecture
A new book by Gonçalo M. Furtado and C. Lopes has been announced
echoraum vienna entitled "Gordon Pask's Encounters: From a Childhood
Curiosity to the Envisioning of an Evolving Environment". It includes an
account of Cedric Price's work in development, town planning and Pask's
encounters with him, John Frazier and the second order cybernetics of the
evolving information environment.
Ten minute videos introducing cybernetics
Javier Livas introduces cybernetics and its application to management,
organization, the mind, the state, law, the financial system, chaos and the
redesigning of Government:
Javier Livas on YouTube.
Call for 1st Global Peter F. Drucker Forum
The conference will be held in Austria November 19-20 2009.
Helen Evans for organizers Emerald Group Publishing Ltd writes:
Peter Drucker is widely acknowledged as Â‘the father of
modern management'. The 1st Global Peter F. Drucker Forum,
Â‘Managing the Future', will be held in Vienna, Drucker's
home city, on the centenary of Drucker's birth (visit Peter Drucker Society of
In addition to invited papers by key thinkers including Charles Handy,
Philip Kotler and CK Prahalad, the Drucker Society have now opened an
opportunity for a limited number of contributions from scholars and
practitioners on themes central to Drucker's work, including:
- Repositioning management as a social role
- The Profession of Management for the 21st century - a new
- Knowledge worker productivity and knowledge worker wisdom
- The future of knowledge work
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Managing nonprofits in the 21st century
Submitted papers will be evaluated for presentation at the forum and
publication in a subsequent special issue of Management Decision. Just as
Drucker championed in relevant research, reviewers will be paying
particular attention to how manuscripts critically evaluate Drucker's
insights and their application to day to day management.
Specialist reviewers are also being sought for papers submitted to the
Peter Drucker Forum. For more information please contact Helen Evans.
submissions to are due no later than 1st July, 2009. Contributors
should follow the author guidelines provided here. For general questions
about submission, contact
Guest Editor, David Lamond.
Expressions of interest can be submitted as an abstract, but please note that
final papers will need to be prepared by 1st July 2009.
We expect to be able to offer acceptance by 1st September.
In 1954 Peter
Drucker popularized Management by Objectives (MBO).
Call for Heinz von Foerster Congress 2009
The Heinz von Foerster Society, the Wiener Institute for Social Science
Documentation and Methodology (WISDOM), the Department of Contemporary
History and the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) announce the Fourth
International Heinz von Foerster Conference to be held at the University of
Vienna on 12-14th November 2009.
The theme is learning: Piaget, Pask, Maturana and von Glasersfeld are
likely foci. Half page abstracts are requested before the end
of June 2009 for review by an international committee. A final programme
and website will be
ready on 1st August 2009.
Currently the conference is sponsored by the Austrian ministry of
Science and the City of Vienna and will be free. Registration is
"Database State": Rountree Reform Trust on UK Government IT
David Shutt, Lord Shutt of Greetland, Chair of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd. states
"Of the 46 databases assessed in this report only six are given the
green light. That is, only six are found to have a proper legal basis for
any privacy intrusions and are proportionate and necessary in a
democratic society. Nearly twice as many are almost certainly illegal
under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or
substantially redesigned, while the remaining 29 databases have
significant problems and should be subject to an independent review".
The assessment team from the Foundation
for Information Policy Research included Professor Ross Anderson, Professor of
Security Engineering at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory.
Download .pdf "Database State".
"Gordon Pask on Science and Art": Porto, Portugal June 1st- 15th
The Heinz von Foerster Society presents a retrospective exhibition in
collaboration with Faculty of Architecture at the University of Porto and
the Department of Contemporary History of the University of Vienna.
Wikinomics and Collaboration
Don Tapscott is
a business strategist. This is his talk
to the Institute of Direct Marketing 2009 Annual Lunch in
London. He is best known for his book with Anthony Willams "Wikinomics: How mass
collaboration changes everything" and the subsequently produced mass
Stephen Wolfram describes WolframAlpha knowledge search engine
video gives a fascinating insight into the first release of his
There are four main parts of the system. The first "curates" data input,
then methods of computation collected from his earlier Mathematica
and New Kind
of Science project are applied. A linguistic analysis/understanding
module, for which he claims ambiguity resolution easier than expected,
interprets input queries and an automatic formatting engine sends the
answer to the user. There will be both free and subscription access.
In his personal
blog Wolfram claims "That almost gets us to what people thought
computers would be able to do 50 years ago!"
BBC News gathers first use impressions from
Lovelock interviewed by Nature
Nature's chief News and Features editor, Oliver Morton, interviews James
Lovelock on the the possibility of the imminent collapse of Earth's
human ecosystem. Lovelock notes seven climate events reducing Earth's human
population in the first million years of man's evolution.
Javier Livas on the Financial Crisis and Cybernetics
Dr Javier Livas is a Mexican cybernetician. He models the crisis in a
presentation and discusses the locus for negative feedback. Website (in
Spanish) and his paper: "The
Cybernetic State: The Unity of Economics, Law and Politics" is in
TurtleArt: the Art of programming
TurtleArt is a graphical
software package, developed by Brian Silverman and
Paula Bontá, based on Logo for
exploring programming, geometry and art. Introductory materials developed
by Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman can be found here. The package is
distributed with the One Laptop Per
Child computer. Contact TurtleArt if you want a version for PC, Mac
Call For Papers: Cyberworlds 2009
The International Conference
on Cyberworlds will be held on 7-11 September 2009, University of
Conference topics include but not limited to: Visual cyberworlds,
Cyberworlds and applications, Cyberethics and cyberlaws, Cybersecurity,
Modelling and animation in cyberworlds, Virtual reality in cyberworlds,
Computer vision and augmented reality, Shared virtual worlds,
Bioinformatics for cyberlife and medicine, Healthcare in cyberworlds,
E-business in cyberworlds, Cyberworlds for education, Cyberworlds for
design and manufacturing, Cyberculture and cyberarts, Cyber social
networks, Communication in cyberworlds.
The conference proceedings will be published by the IEEE Computer
Society with special issues in Virtual Reality Journal (Springer) and The
Visual Computer (Springer). Paper submission 30th April 2009. Notice of
acceptance 29th May 2009. Camera-ready paper 30th June 2009.
New Cybernetics books
Alex Andrew's "A Missing Link in
Cybernetics: Logic and Continuity". The book is aimed at AI researchers
and the systems and cybernetics community.
"The Viability of Societies: Governance and Complexity Today" is aimed
at sociologists and cyberneticians with the themes of identity, control and
the future of human society.
Ralph-Eckhard Türke's "Governance"
uses an Actor and Interaction approach to found a treatment of Beer's viability
with application to communities in Hesse, Germany.
Patrick Hoverstadt's "The
Fractal Organization" applies the Viable System Model to create
resilient and sustainable organizations.
2nd Quicycle Conference
A small group of theoretical physicists met (March 29th- May 2nd) in
Best, outside Eindhoven (Netherlands) to discuss development of the
Williamson-van der Mark self-confined photon
model of the electron producing, as van der Mark pointed out, a
circulating current of around 15 amps. Professor Phil Butler (Canterbury
N.Z.) gave an account of the Clifford Algebra approach. Richard Gauthier
presented his transluminal
energy quantum model of the electron. John Williamson led us through
his Clifford-Dirac Algebra treatment.
This is of particular interest to cyberneticians because it applies
Pask's 1993 doubly twisted
torus topology of dependence and analogy to the necessary electron/photon
Williamson has shown the electron can be regarded as a homeostat because
when it is hot it is small and when cool (e.g. in solid state) it is large
and more likely to collide with photons which will heat it up. This may
extend the domain of cybernetics to sub-atomic particle interactions.
Professor Butler has a book in preparation.
UK Systems Society International Conference 2009
The UK Systems Society International Conference 2009 will take place on
1 and 2 September at St Anne's College, Oxford. The theme of the Conference
will be 'Systems Research: Lessons from the Past - Progress or the Future'.
A keynote address on this theme will be given by Prof. Peter Checkland and
the majority of programme will be devoted to workshops and plenary
discussions around the Conference theme, led by key members of the Systems
Contributions are invited from participants for a special, 25th
Anniversary edition of The Systemist. A poster session will be held
dedicated to viewing, informal discussions and networking.
Second Cwarel Isaf Conference "The Cybernetics of Crisis"
Prof. Dr. Fredmund Malik presided at his company's MZSG headquarters for
discussions and papers with leading management cyberneticians on 19th-20th
March 2009. Talks were given on Sri Lanka, property economics, socionomics
and logistics curves. Presenting his "Youth Bulge" theory in a remarkable
second paper Prof. Dr Dr Gunnar Heinsohn showed
that wars are sustained only when there are excess well-fed boys in a
family. He concluded little prospect of war with Iran on this basis and
poor prospects in Afghanistan for peace.
The Malik management
zentrum in St. Gallen continues to grow teaching Beer's management
cybernetics to german speaking countries. Dr Allenna Leonard showed how
Beer's VSM can be applied to complex organizations in crisis.
Professor Malik challenged participants to produce a Road Map to the
"Cybernetic Revolution". Work was started...
The Cybernetics Society Annual Conference September 12th 2009
To be held at King's College. Suggestions and submissions to the
secretary Dr David Dewhurst
1st International Conference on Collective Intelligence
Last call for papers for the conference with the theme of the Semantic
Web, Social Networks and Multiagent Systems. More details. Submission deadline 10th
The conferenece runs from 5-7 October 2009 and will be held in Wroclaw,
2nd Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference
(CHAOS2009), Conference will be held on June 1-5, 2009, in Chania, Crete,
Greece. Poster and
Topics include:Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics; Stochastic Chaos; Chemical
Chaos; Data Analysis and Chaos; Hydrodynamics, Turbulence and Plasmas;
Optics and Chaos; Chaotic Oscillations and Circuits; Chaos in Climate
Dynamics; Geophysical Flows; Biology and Chaos; Neurophysiology and Chaos;
Hamiltonian Systems; Chaos in Astronomy and Astrophysics; Chaos and
Solitons; Micro- and Nano- Electro-Mechanical Systems; Neural Networks;
Chaos, Ecology and Economy.
Lovelock says slow pyrolysis and burial of agricultiural waste could
save the earth
"But I bet they won't do it" he says in an interview in
New Scientist (24th January 2009). The scheme requires no subsidy and
could produce small amounts of biofuel for sale.
The idea is for farmers to burn or "biochar" their waste and by
controlling the air level produce charcoal. The charcoal must then be
Requisite Variety is satisfied.
James Lovelock FRS is an Honorary Fellow of the Cybernetics Society. He
warns global warming will produce famine and could lead to a world
population of less than a billion in a hundred years from now.
magazine last December "Cornell's Lehmann is
even more emphatic."If biochar could be massively applied around the
globe," he says, "we could end the emissions problem in one to two
This is a detailed
review by Dominic Woolf from Swansea University.
Initiative formed in 2006.
American Society for Cybernetics 2009 Conference
The 2009 conference of the American Society for
Cybernetics, will be held on March 12-15, 2009, in Olympia, Washington.
The conference title is "Cybernetics Talk Dance Anticommunication".
Registration, except for certain students who have already made other
arrangements, is via the ACTEVA service, at the following address: http://www.acteva.com/ttghits.cfm?EVA_ID=35631
The 2009 ASC Conference invites a variety of contributions including and
not limited to papers, performances, displays, symposia, workshops, panels
and hosted conversations.
The keynote speakers as are expected to be Lou Kauffman (cybernetician
and mathematician), Tom Moritz (Associate Director of Research at the Getty
Institute) and William Fox (novelist).
Suggestions for paper presentations, panel topics, or guided
conversations are welcome, and should be sent to:- Arun Chandra, COM 301,
The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA 98505, Telephone: (+1) (360)
867-6077, Fax: (+1) (360) 867-6663, Email: email@example.com
The deadline for proposals is Monday, February 1, 2009. The 2009
conference's day events will be held at the Olympia Community Center.
Evening events, including the keynote addresses, will take place at The
Evergreen State College and at the Washington Performing Arts Center.
Attendees will be housed at the Governor Hotel (Olympia).
9th International Conference of Sociocybernetics: 29th June- 5th July
2008, Urbino, Italy
Call and invitation to "Modernity 2.0": emerging social media
technologies and their impacts. Further details.
Alex Andrew writes: The death of Oliver Selfridge on 3rd December is
reported in the
New York Times. (Registration is required for free access.)
He was the grandson of the man who founded the London store, and active
in the Lincoln Laboratory of MIT and author of the important "Pandemonium" paper in
the 1958 Teddington Symposium. He was 82.
The Ross Ashby Archive
Received from Jill, Sally, Ruth, and Mick of Ashby's family:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that we can now officially announce that The
W. Ross Ashby Digital Archive is available at http://www.rossashby.info
We would be delighted if you would take the time to have a look at the
digital archive web site, and where appropriate, help to spread awareness
of its availability, by mentioning it and linking to it in any mailing
lists, newsletters, or web sites that you are involved in.
Professor Peter Felgett FRS
We were sorry to learn of the death of Professor Peter Fellgett over the
Alex Andrew writes: He was the first Professor of Cybernetics in
Britain, appointed in Reading in 1964 (a few years before the Appointment
of Frank George in Brunel). He had previously been on the staff of the
Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and had been a visiting worker in the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in USA. In his earlier work he was responsible for a
revolutionary improvement in means of recording infrared spectra of stars,
termed the "Fellgett advantage". In Reading he headed a department in which
undergraduate courses in cybernetics were set up, as well as research
projects, in the face of some opposition from scientists in more
established areas. Among other things he was responsible for a major
development in sound recording and reproduction, in which use of four
channels allowed "surround sound" with unprecedented realism.
Dr Richard Mitchell remembers
"PBF" the Cybernetist.
Professor John Rose: Kybernetes Memorial Issue
Professor Brian Rudall, Editor-in-Chief of
Kybernetes Vol. 38 Issue 1&2 is published in honour of the memory of
Professor John (Jack) Rose and to mark his enormous contribution to
Cybernetics, Systems and other fields, in which he had been so active. It
is not an obituary but a tribute to his life and a celebration of his
achievements as a warm human being, a family man and an academic who showed
such foresight at a time when research and developments in so many areas
were not adequately communicated worldwide. In this compilation we shall
concentrate on tributes and contributions written in his memory which
recall his dedication to systems and cybernetics. We have also included
three of Prof. Rose's own papers from past issues of Kybernetes.
Prof. Rose was the Founding Editor of the journal, and was also the
founder of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics (WOSC)
Kybernetes is currently offering
free access to three papers from last years's special issue dedicated
to Gregory Bateson.
Two design challenges from Google and the Buckminster Fuller
10100 have committed $10 million to implement up to five
projects that will "help people" with categories in Community, Opportunity,
Energy, Environment, Health, Education, Shelter and "Everything else". From
a selection of one hundred ideas the public will be asked to choose twenty
semi-finalists. An advisory board will select up to five final ideas.
Closing date October 20th, 2008. Details.
The second challenge comes from the Buckminster Fuller Institute. "Each year a
distinguished jury will award a $100,000 prize to support the development
and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve
humanity's most pressing problems". Details. Closing date for 2008 November
On the nature of the electron and other particles
After CybCon08 a further talk by Dr John Williamson at the Maxwell
Society, Room 2C, King's College, October 20th, 2-3 pm, Strand Campus. Open
Abstract: A minimal extension of the Maxwell theory is proposed. This
introduces forces strong enough to confine electromagnetism, and allow the
description of purely electromagnetic particles. The origin of charge, half
integral spin and the exclusion principle are discussed. A speculative
model for all the hadronic particles is also proposed.
approach seems to confirm the applicability of Gordon Pask's doubly
twisted torus topology of analogy and dependence. Pask also suggested a
Klein Bottle form as necessary for communication between the tautomeric
resonance forms of his toroidal coherences.
The meeting was full and followed by a seminar on the mathematical
John's recent draft paper for
AISB 2008 Symposium on the Turing Test
Sunday 12th October, 2008, Palmer Building, University of Reading,
Whiteknights, UK. 9.50 - 18.00. Further Details.
ANZSYS08 Perth 1-3 Decemeber 2008
Papers will be given on System Thinking and Practice. Submission
deadline 15th October. Further
The Cybernetics Society 40th Anniversary Conference
The Conference was held on Saturday September 20th at King's College,
University of London. Non-members were welcome.
Speaker's biographies, personal web links,
abstracts and a photograph
To apply for membership of the Cybernetics Society follow this link
us with your proposals for our evening meetings programme.
Recent publications on Beer and Pask
"Holistic Management" by William F. Christopher is an account of the
application of Stafford Beer's Viable System Model in commercial
enterprises. (Wiley 2007 ISBN 9780471740636).
"Gordon Pask, Philosopher Mechanic" has the subtitle "An Introduction to
the Cybernetician's Cybernetician". This is a collection of Chapters by
ex-students focusing mainly on Conversation Theory, spiced with charming
personal reminiscence, edited by Ranulph Glanville and Karl H. Miller
echoraum 2007 ISBN 9783901941153).
"Pask Present" is a catalogue of the exhibition of "art and design
inspired by the work of Gordon Pask" held in Vienna earlier this year (also
published by edition echoraum ISBN 9783901941313 and edited by Ranulph
Glanville and Albert Miller with numerous contributions from ex-students
Members are reminded that reviews are welcome.
Topology and physics
Earlier this year president of the American Society for Cybernetics
Kauffman sent a list of video clips to the CYBCOM discussion
group. Here it is:
Also worthy of note are Free Science Videos and
Lectures for demonstrations and Peoples Archive for long interviews
with leading scientists, mathematicians and artists. Amongst the hundreds
of hours of video are Richard Gregory, Dorothy Hodgkin, Sir Bernard Lovell,
Donald Knuth, Carl Djerassi, Manfred Eigen, Murray Gell-Mann, Benoit
Mandelbrot, John Wheeler, Sir Michael Atiyah, John Maynard Smith, Hans
Bethe, Freeman Dyson. There are welcome surprises too like George Daniels
the mechanical watchmaker.
Artificial Life update
Prof Kevin Warwick at the Department of Cybernetics
Reading University announced
today his team had used a rat brain preparation to control
a mobile robot.
life paradigm of cybernetics seems alive and well with many new
automata and simulation
The list of Alife
organizations include the "Grey
Thumb Society" which welcomes hobbyists.These are some photographs of a
recent London based chapter
meeting. This is the Grey Thumb
The Cybernetics Society 2008 Annual General Meeting
The meeting will be held on Tuesday 29th July in Room KO.31 [2BA] Small
Committee Room at King's College from 6.00pm to 9.00pm and will start at
Cybernetic Serendipity ReduxÂ—online discussion
40 years ago, Jasia Reichart's exhibition "Cybernetic Serendipity"
showed that the interactive confluence of cybernetics, computing and art
(60 years ago, Norbert Wiener published his book "Cybernetics". 50 years
ago the worlds first electronic performance installationÂ—the
Philips Pavilion at the Brussels World FairÂ—was launched.)
40 years later, while computers and art remain, cybernetics has nearly
vanished, although there is a reviving interest in it in art.
In remembering Cybernetic Serendipity we have the chance to re-open the
debate, to reconsider the relationship particularly between cybernetics and
art, and to do so taking into account the way that cybernetics has
developed during its period of near invisibility. Thus, we can revisit and
reconsider: if Cybernetic Serendipity were to be launched today, what
should go in it, how should it be exhibited, and what would cybernetics and
art learn from each other?
That, of course, depends not only on developments in art practice, but
also (and more critically) on what is new in cybernetics, and how can that
inform art: and, what is new in art, and how can that inform
This is a chance to reopen the connection, to explore again, and to move
beyond some of the current models taken from cognitive science, computing,
AI and AL, and complexity, to the (much more radical) field of their
The immediate celebration will be an online discussion, Cybernetic
Serendipity Redux, considering art, exhibitions and cybernetics now. This
will run during September. There is a small team of discussants, to keep
the ball rolling, but I hope you'll join in as much as you can. You can
find this here.
There is also a Ning site, where
we will store material.
Do please consider signing on to these sites and taking part. You would
be greatly valued.
from Ranulph Glanville
Two conferences are announced on the management
cybernetics models of Stafford Beer.
1st Stafford Spirit Seminar: How to make use of Stafford Beer's legacy
in cooperating for our future?
Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden, August 7th-8th, 2008.
Speaker abstracts submission deadline is July 1st. Contact Professor Stig C Holmberg. Conference flyer and further details at Conference website.
Metaphorum 2008 at Hull University Business School "Action Research and
30th June to 1st July 2008. £50 including lunches and coffee
breaks. The organizers particulary invite more junior researchers (e.g.
postgraduate students) wishing to demonstrate the focus and direction of
their research. Full announcement.
Professor Gerard de Zeeuw inaugral lecture at University of
"Learning Research" Tuesday 3rd June 2008 5.30pm for 6 o'clock at the
Jackson Lecture Theatre, Brayford Campus. Refreshments 7.15. Tickets are
free. To register call 01522 837008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Short biography.
7th IEEE International Conference on Cybernetic Intelligent Systems
The Conference will be held at the University of Middlesex September
9-10, 2008. Deadline for 6 page paper extended to 5th May. Further details.
1st Cwarel Isaf Conference March 25th - 26th, 2008- Short Report
Management Zentrum St Gallen invited the world's leading management
cyberneticians to a meeting at their new headquarters in St. Gallen,
Cwarel Isaf Institute was founded by the late Stafford Beer (and named
after his cottage in Wales) and Fredmund Malik to make the life's work of
Beer available to society, to steward his intellectual property and to
transfer related knowledge into the benefits of practical applications.
Malik MZSG discussed and presented their approach to management based in
Cybernetics. The twelve sessions covered the Viable System Model,
General Systems Modelling (particularly the approach of Frederick Vester from
his "The Art of Interconnected Thinking"), Bionics (supported with a richly
illustrated book, by Malik staff, "Bionics: The intelligence of creation"
with many contributions including Scanning
Tunneling Microscopy Nobelist Gerd Binnig), Strategic
Planning, Innovation and Audit.
Participants agreed, including many from the Metaphorum Group, this had been most useful
and well presented development. The world is now closer to realizing the
wide applicability and benefits of what, today, we can call the risk based
evolutionary model of Stafford Beer's Viable System.
University of Gratz seeks Professor of Systems Science
Closing date for application: April 21st, 2008.
Our Cybernetics: American Cybernetics Society Conference 2008
May 11-15, 2008 at University of Illinois in Urbana, IL, USA. A call for
proposals of papers, performances, displays, symposia, workshops, panels,
hosted conversations relating to the conference as described or to the
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Biological Computer
More details at ASC
Distributed Computing Workshop
To be held on Wednesday 21st May 2008 and organized by UK Science &
Technology Facilities Council (STFC) & the Kite Club.
- Talks from top-level experts in Grid computing adoption &
opportunities for Open Source.
- Adoption success stories showcasing the value-add of Grid
- Top tips on how to get started from experts with proven
- Dedicated Tracks on Energy & Finance and on Life Sciences &
- Elevator pitches from several new start-up activities in Grid
computing that are being spun out of CERN and related laboratories.
- Q&A session with a panel of experts.
- Networking opportunities.
Agenda and more details.
free and open to all interested parties.
If you feel you are able to contribute to this event or would like
further information please contact Alex Efimov.
Pask Present- exhibition at 19th EMSCR Conference
Following "Maverick Machines" at the University of Edinburgh pieces from
established artists, architects, designers, academics and students inspired
by Gordon Pask's work will be exhibited including his interest in analogue
computing and his experiments with elctrochemistry. Further details. The exhibition will be held at
Atelier Färbergasse, Färbergasse 6, A-1010 Vienna, from 26th
March to 4th April, open daily from 13:00 to 21:00. The opening ceremony
will take place on 25th March, 19:00.Pask
Lovelock on Climate change at the Royal Society
Our honorary fellow
Lovelock discusses the response of the earth to global warming and
possible interventions from the perspective of his Gaia model. "A feedback
or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical
environment for life on this planet". Video of lecture "Climate
change on the living Earth" (1:05:29 Real Player or Windows Media
Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the
Future of the Human Mind
Marvin Minsky talks on
video (1:23:10 Real Player) at MIT about the problems of AI and his
latest book. Visit Minsky's website to download the 2006
version along with many other of his publications. The sound is of variable
quality but the setting of goals, the detection of difference, the building
of analogies and the context dependency of interpretation has a
contemporary ring in Pask's work. Minsky's use of
critics and selectors on his suggested six level model is redolent of more
English cybernetics in Beer's VSM.
Fourteenth WOSC Conference next September
The World Organistion for Systems and Cybernetics was be held in
Wroclaw, Poland, September 9-12, 2008. Further details. Brochure.
Professor Klaus Krippendorff "Conversation and Causes of its
Degeneration" (.ppt) and "Language (reconstructing its origins)
and Accountability reconsidering its Cybernetics" (.ppt) workshop
Third International Heinz von Foerster Congress 16-19th November 2007
Special Sections on Ernst von Glasersfeld who celebrated his 90th
birthday this year and Gordon Pask (1928-1996) whose scientific papers are
now archived at the Department of Contemporary History, University of
Vienna. Participation is free. Further details. Register.
The 19th European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research
The meeting will take place in Vienna during the week after Easter 2008,
March 25th to 28th (inclusive). This is, historically, the major biennial
meeting in Europe. Full
There are 15 symposia.
R. Belohlavek, USA, and P.Prautsch, Czech Republic
Mathematical Methods in Cybernetics and Systems Theory
Y.Rav, France, and J.Scharinger, Austria
The Cybernetics of Cybernetics: Cybernetics, Interaction and Conversation
R. Glanville, UK
Living Systems Theory
Biocybernetics and Mathematical Biology
M.Fischer, UK, and D.Read, USA
Cognitive Rationality, Relativity and Clarity
I. Ezhkova, Belgium
Socio-technical Systems: Design and Use
G.Chroust, Austria, and S.Payr, Austria
Neural Computation and Neuroinformatics
ACE 2008: Agent Construction and Emotions
J.Gratch, USA, and P.Petta, Austria
Agent-Based Modeling & Simulation
S.Bandini, Italy, and G.Vizzari, Italy
Natural Language Processing
E.Buchberger, Austria, and K.Oliva, Czech Republic
Theory and Applications of Artificial Intelligence
V.Marik, Czech Republic, and O.Stepankova, Czech Republic
Systems Movement and Systems Organisations - Challenges,
Visions and Roadmaps
G.Chroust, Austria, and M.Mulej, Slovenia
Management, Organizational Change, and Innovation
M. Mulej, Slovenia
Professor John Rose, founder of WOSC and of the journals Kybernetes and
Robotica, died on Friday 3rd August 2007. As a refugee from the Nazis he
made his home in Britain. He was active in education and consulting to
industry. He produced more than 50 books on chemistry, cybernetics,
automation, biomedical computing, environmental issues and medical
biotechnology. WOSC obituary.
Michie died in a car accident with his ex-wife Dame Anne McLaren earlier
this month. From Rangoon to Rugby School then classics at Balliol he went
to cryptography at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing and Jack Good. In 1944 he helped
Flowers' Colossus II programmable. In 1972 we learned the
destroyed by Churchill but in fact two were moved to "British secret
service headquarters". After a DPhil in mammalian genetics Michie
became UK's leading AI researcher founding the Department of Machine
Intelligence and Perception at Edinburgh University. Obituaries and many
more details in the
where he is described as part of the cybernetics movement. Andrew
Murray writes that Donald and Anne had a lifelong commitment to
Allenna Leonard's keynote speech to WMSCI
Our member Dr Allenna
Leonard of the Complementary Set and past president of the American
Society for Cybenetics gave a keynote address to the 11th World
Multiconfence on Systemics, Cybernetics and Infomatics in Orlando (WMSCI).
Full text of her paper "The Viable Systems Model and
its Application to Complex Systems".
The Pask Archive
The Institute for Contemporary History of the University of Vienna will
host the Pask Archive. Rebecca Hibit tells us
the Gordon Pask Archive will be open in time for EMCSR
(2008). Pask introduced forces into Cybernetics with Paul Pangaro and
later coined the term "new" cybernetics to include the eternal kinetic
actor interactions that support the production of the bounded kinematic
descriptions and conversations of observer participants. Pask's model of Self
Organization "Like concepts repel, unlike concepts attract", where concepts
are procedures composed of spins that produce relations in all media,
should receive further attention in coming years. "They will come to know",
he once said.
Pask's student, Dr Ranulph Glanville, will be chairing Symposium C at
EMCSR on Second Order Cybernetics "making Gordon the central theme",
Ranulph tell us. The formal announcement of the Pask Archive will be around
November 18th when a collection of Pask's papers and essays he has edited
will be published in support.He has also arranged a seminar with Dr Karl
Mueller. Speakers will include Paul Pangaro and Bernard Scott.
Gordon was the recepient of many awards, including the Wiener Medal, but
he had particular affection for the first award of "Ehrenmitglied"
(Honorary Member) of the Österreichisches Studiengesellschaft für
Kybernetik (the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies). It is entirely
appropriate that the efforts of many including Dr Glanville and Dr. Bernard
Scott has resulted in an archive in Vienna alongside his mentor Heinz von Foerster.
Heinz called Gordon a genius (Kybernetes 30, 5/6, 2001).
Pangaro Inc's Pask Archive
includes new presentations at the related site "http://www.cyberneticians.com"
on Pask with
Warren McCulloch, Lettvin and Maturana and video clips.
From Vanilla Beer: Maverick Machines - A public exhibition
inspired by the maverick work of cybernetician Gordon Pask opened this
month at the Matthew Architecture Gallery, Edinburgh. 24th July - 10th
August, Open Mon - Fri 10am-4pm. More
Neurotechnologija real-time image recognition software development
announce details of their SentiSight real-time moving and still image recognition
SDK. Windows demo and SDK trial downloads.
Anatol Rapoport, a founder of General Systems Theory,
died on January 20 2007, aged 95. A Commemoration was held last month in
the University of Toronto.
A short appreciation and notes on sources.
Nineteenth European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems
Research (EMCSR 2008))
Call for papers at University
of Vienna March 25- 28 2008: organized by the Austrian Society for
Cybernetic Studies in cooperation with the Institute of Medical Cybernetics
and Artificial Intelligence, Center for Brain Research, Medical University
of Vienna and the International Federation for Systems Research.
World Chinese Forum on Science of General Systems (WCFSGS)
This is a new online
journal. WOSC Director for International Affairs, Dr Alex Andrew, tells
us the Chinese are leaders in Pansystems and Grey Systems. Some papers are
WOSC 2008 Call for Papers
The next World Oranisation for Systems and Cybenetics (WOSC) will be held in Wroclaw, Poland
September 9- 12, 2008. More
details. Conference leaflet.
Real Time Reporting advocated by "Big Six"
In a report "Global Capital Markets and the
Global Economy" to the Global Public Policy
Symposium in Paris CEOs and Chairs of PwC, KPMG, Grant Thornton, BDO,
Deloitte and Ernst & Young advocated real-time reporting of performance
on the web.
This is straight out of the management cybernetics textbook ("Brain of
the Firm" Wiley 2nd Edition 1981) of our late honorary fellow Stafford Beer, himself
an Ernst consultant.
Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) for sector specific
accounting and harmonisation of National Standards by the International
Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards
Board (FASB) is advocated. Resistance to complex rules is urged which "can
produce financial statements that virtually no one understands". Standards
need, they say, to be principles-based. This promulgates the criticism made
in the society by Karl-Gustav Hanssen at
our 2003 conference.
What better principles than those of Beer's Viable System Model? Here
(variety) resources are balanced to need with real-time reports of
performance and financial audit. These data support alerting for timely
management intervention and modelling of future development.
The Home Office is "not fit for purpose" says the incoming minister. The
NHS struggles to become patient centred and an Afghani asks, as violence
increases, "Where did the Aid money go?". We trust ministers and CEOs will
put real-time reporting at the top of their agenda to make world
development safer and more open.
"Neural Networks as Cybernetic Systems"
Holk Cruse has produced this open access etext with
a supporting simulation tool, tkCybernetics
(interpreted in Tcl/Tk, freeware which must be
installed first) embodying a neural cybernetic approach to neural and
systems modelling. The freeware graphical tool by Thorsten Roggendorf
enables rapid select and drop modelling of non-linear and feedback systems
using connected filter and function elements with graphical display of
inputs and outputs for small circuits. Cruse's free ebook provides a
tutorial introduction to the modelling approach and discussion of
biological modelling with particular reference to neural nets.
The Department of Biological Cybernetics at Bielefeld University is to
be congratulated and our thanks to Francis Heylighen (of Principia Cybernetica) for drawing our
attention to the announcement of Soren Lorenz editorial coordinator of the
host open access ejournal "Brains, Minds, and Media".
A very welcome development. The software was readily installed, run and
tested under XP and is supported with a minimum of ambiguity for all
platforms. Recommended for students learning cybernetics.
Fifty years of System Dynamics
"Reaching out with System Dynamics" is the Golden Anniversary
celebration by the UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Society on 1st &
2nd February 2007 in Harrogate.
System Dynamics was created by Jay Forrester at MIT. The gathering will
be focusing on how System Dynamics can be used by business to engage with
potential customers and education for both students and government
ministries - reaching out to new practitioners. Further Details.
Speakers include Dr Robert Thurlby on BT Business development, Michael
Bean on websims, Dr Khalid Saeed on distance learning and Professor Alfredo
Moscardini on recent work in Egypt.
A nanoengineer looks at red blood cells
Subra Suresh, MIT Professor of Biological Engineering in the Department
of Materials Science & Engineering of the Biological Engineering
Division, gives a video talk on "Nanotechnology and the Study of Human
Diseases". The potentially low cost fluidic measurement of nanonewton
forces can analyse the mechanical properties of deformation and mass of red
blood cells- erythrocytes. Diagnostic aids and new approaches to treatment
for diseases such as malaria, hereditary spherocytosis and pancreatic
cancer are suggested. The Gobal Enterprise for Micro-Mechanics and
Molecular Medicine- GEM4 website supports this
The 31st Annual Cybernetics Society Conference
The conference was held on Saturday 16th September 2006 at King's
College. Program and Abstracts here.
We are pleased to report great interest expressed in the English
foundational movement led by Ashby and the members of the Ratio Club, including Turing,
Grey Walter, Mackay, Albert Uttley and Jack Good. Zivanovic's work reminded
us of the contribution to gallery art by many of our founders. Papers on
modelling and systems reminded us of the holistic or concurrent
applicability of the cybernetic paradigm of feedback. The question of the
nature of Symbol reappeared in probing the mystery of phlogiston and
entropy applied to biology and again in the rules to screen aircraft for
safety from terrorism. The Society thanks the contributors for a most
We trust many of the papers will appear in Kybernetes
Robot Perception Research Project
An EU funded project is being aimed at giving autonomous machines much
greater perception abilities. The BACS (Bayesian Approach to Cognitive
Systems) project, is a project under the 6th Framework Program of the
European Commission which has been allocated €7.5 million in funding.
The BACS project brings together researchers and commercial companies
working on artificial perception systems potentially capable of dealing
with complex tasks in everyday settings. The scientific work being carried
out under BACS makes robots with new capabilities a real prospect: robots
capable of handling incomplete information, analyzing their environment,
acquiring context-specific knowledge, interpreting the data and, together
with humans, taking decisions.
Specific implementations with market potential are planned. A
prospective implementation with market potential is a system that can
assist drivers of passenger cars and trucks by employing probabilistic
control functions and driving strategies. This should make driving safer
for both drivers and pedestrians. Another area of interest is 3D modelling
and surveillance of safety-critical applications such as monitoring
structural changes in buildings or mines and safety-relevant infrastructure
elements in power lines.
European industry can use Bayes' alternative calculation models to good
advantage; they have applications both in major companies in the automotive
industry and mobile telephony, for example, and in small and medium-size
companies active in niche markets such as healthcare, inspection,
monitoring or even market forecasts. More.
Biologically Plausible Neural Systems and Virtual
requested for a special session at the 5th Chapter Conference on
Advances in Cybernetic Systems 2006 which will run on September 7th or 8th
Sheffield Hallam University, UK .
There is a range of connectionist systems, but a much smaller set of
neural network models corresponding to biological neural networks. Neural
models range in biological validity through the traditional biological
Hodgkin Huxley models to Leaky Integrate and Fire models that miss much of
the biological detail. From a computational perspective, many of the
biological details may be unnecessary to accurately simulate psychological
and psychophysical behaviour, and these unnecessary details come with a
computational cost. One of the challenges is to identify the level of
detail necessary or beneficial for simulating behaviour at higher
Virtual robotics as an application domain have several advantages. They
enable the system to behave in domains that people use, in the fashion that
people act. They do not require full fledged motor and sensing routines, so
they present a lower implementation barrier. However, they do enable the
system to ground symbols and provide the possibility of learning based on
grounded symbols in domains that people use.
One major virtue to biological and psychological validity when
simulating neural nets is that direct evidence from behaving biological
systems can guide development of simulated systems. The fidelity of the
robots virtual world to an assumed reality provides a minimum level of
abstraction of the psychological phenomena that can be simulated. Coarse
granularity in the virtual world, however, can enormously reduce
computational effort and time while still being appropriate and sufficient
for investigating more abstractly specified psychological phenomena.
Consequently, a neural system for a virtual robot is an excellent domain
for exploring core cybernetics problems such as symbol grounding, learning,
and interactive behaviour.
This session will explore issues in biologically plausible neural
systems, and their relationship to psychological, psychophysical and
behavioural phenomena using virtual robotics.
Winning the Oil Endgame- with
Institute founder and CEO Amory Lovins makes a brilliantly argued case
that carbon fibre substitution of steel enables substitution of oil with
renewables for all vehicles and substantial reduction of CO2
emission. He describes a better cultural, economic and engineering
homeostat for producing transport by applying existing technical know-how
"to make all modes of transportation lighter and more fuel-efficient, and
that big, fast change is possible". Lovins finds less than 1% of the energy
used by a car is used to move the driver. This is a non-nuclear plan for
"kicking the oil habit". Real format video from MIT.
New Amory Lovins interviewed by Stephen Sakur
James Lovelock "The Revenge of Gaia"
In his latest book Professor J. E. Lovelock FRS presents the view that
world climate collapse is imminent and nuclear power must be considered as
part of the solution. Richard
Mabey reviews in the Sunday Times. John
Gray reviews in the Independent. Tyler Volk of
NYU Department of Biology reviews in
Nature. Professor Lovelock is an honorary fellow of the Society.
Royal Society Video Archive
trove including talks by Sir Tim Berners-Lee om the Future of the World
Wide Web, Tim Palmer on
Climate Variability and Predictability, Jarad Diamond on How societies
choose to fail or survive, Wilson Sibbett on Optical science in the fast
lane etc etc.
The Acceleration of Genetics, Nanotechnology and
Ray Kurzweil is the pioneer inventor of text recognition and speech
synthesis, winner of MIT's half million dollar Lemelson Prize and author of
"The Singularity is near". He proposes "The Law of
Accerating Returns" and gives an MIT video talk on GNR at the 2005 MIT
Conference on emerging technologies.
Forthcoming Systems and Cybernetics Conferences
"Towards a Science of Complex Systems"
European Conference on Complex Systems 2006 (ECCS'06)
Oxford 25-29 September 2006. Call for papers (till 7th April) and
Workshop proposals (till 5th May) Further details and contacts.
Complexity, Democracy & Sustainability
International Society for the Systems Sciences 50th Annual Conference
July 9-14, 2006 Sonoma State University, California Call for
The Emergences of Designs
Washington Evolutionary Systems Society (WESS) at Capital Science 2006 March
Contact Jerry Chandler
ALAS (Asociación Lationamericana de Sistemas)
7th-9th August 2006 Buenos Aires YMCA. In Portugese and Spanish with
workshops in Spanish 3rd-6th August 2006. Themes will include
paricipatory governance and interdisciplinary application of cybernetics
and the systems approach to Latin America.
The Six Webs, 10 Years On
Bill Joy, Partner,
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (venture capitalists), former Chief
Scientist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, designer and writer of
Berkeley UNIX - the first open source operating system with built-in
TCP/IP, reflects on the six webs- defined as far, near, here, weird, B2B,
and D2D- as an ongoing organizing principle for thinking about the
Video from MIT 51:35
Project Cybersyn: multimedia documentation
Cybersyn (Chile 1970-1973) was the first application of formal
cybernetic methods to the government of a country. Stafford Beer
developed the Viable System Model
he applied in Chile for the management of complex enterprises from his
foundational work in management cybernetics. Real- time performance
monitoring in actuality, capability and potential, variety analysis,
algedonic alerting and participatory development modelling were all new
then. The approach came out of Wiener's work on purposeful error correction
and the inter-disciplinary focus it produced on self-organisation and
autonomy. Now these
techniques are becoming mainstream. Cheap high performance multimedia
computing supporting email, workflow and data mining on the web can realise
this potential. But still company and government accounts, for example, are
produced seasonally reflecting agricultural practice rather than the
real-time needs of a developing "postcode lottery" society unable or
unwilling to regulate waste and allocate resources fairly.
The Chilean multi-media artists Catalina Ossa and Enrique Rivera have
announced their intention to document the pioneering innovations in Chile.
A website, documentary film and exhibitions are intended. Participants in
the project are invited to get in touch. See the Metaphorum website for more details.
"Cybernetics - Linking Human and Machine Brains" by
Prof. Kevin Warwick
Date & Time: Wednesday 8th February 2006. Time:17:30 to 18:30
Networking and opportunity to meet the presenter with light refreshments
and sandwiches. Lecture to follow in the Theatre 18:30-20:00 thereafter the
Kelvin Lounge will be open with cash bar available. Venue:IEE, Savoy Place,
London, WC2 0BL. Registration recommended.
Mars exploration, habitat formation, spray-on space
suits and the Space Elevator
MIT Enterprise Forum presents a video packed with cybernetics of
recently funded studies from the Nasa Institute for Advanced
Concepts. 18 minutes in the rhetoric gives way to four presentations of
some extraordinary interdisciplinary science and engineering studies
including the Interlopter, a wing flapping robot (low Reynolds numbers
only); ecological bioremediation, microbial exogeology (28'): lava tube
habitats and hopping microbots; biospace suits with application to (40')
disabled walking support: electroacting shrink wrap "spiderwoman" suit and
the ultimate high road to space from an ocean platform: the Space Elevator
(50') climbing on a carbon nanotube (40 times stronger than anything
previously made) ribbon. Initial cost estimated at about $10 billion taking
15 years to build and cost per pound to geosynchronous orbit reduced from
$5-10,000 to around $200. There are broadband, dial-up and audio only
streaming options for this video "The Power of Revolutionary Thinking:
What Today's Scientists Can Teach You About Driving Innovation In Your
"From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A history of Soviet
Stuart Umpleby, an ex-President of the American Society for Cybernetics,
writes "The interplay between science and politics in the USSR was quite
amazing". This book by Slava
Gerovitch was published by MIT Press in 2002. From the jacket we learn:
"Soviet cybernetics was not just an intellectual trend but a social
movement for radical reform in science and in society as a whole. Followers
of cybernetics viewed computer simulation as a universal method of problem
solving and the language of cybernetics as a language of objectivity and
truth. With the new objectivity, they challenged the existing order of
things in economics and politics as well as in science.
"Soviet cybernetics followed a curious arc. In the 1950s it was labeled
a reactionary pseudoscience and a weapon of imperialist ideology. With the
arrival of Khrushchev's political "thaw," however, it was seen as an
innocent victim of political oppression, and it evolved into a movement for
radical reform of Stalinist science. In the early 1960s it was hailed as
"science in the service of communism," but by the end of the decade it had
turned into a shallow trend. Using extensive new archival materials,
Gerovitch argues that these fluctuating attitudes reflected profound
changes in scientific language and research methodology across disciplines,
in power relations within the scientific community, and in the political
role of scientists and engineers in Soviet society. His detailed analysis
of scientific discourse shows how the Newspeak of the late Stalinist period
and the Cyberspeak that challenged it eventually blended into
Slava Gerovitch is a Dibner/Sloan Postdoctoral Researcher at the Dibner
Institute for the History of Science and Technology and a Research
Associate at the Institute for the History of Natural Science and
Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences."
"An exceptionally lively and interesting book. This is by far the
best-informed and most insightful account of cybernetics in the Soviet
Union." David Holloway, Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International
History, Stanford University.
"Cybernetics was among the most important intellectual movements of the
mid-twentieth century. Nowhere was its curious blend of mathematical
technique, ideology, information technology, and postmodern scientific
universalism more controversial or more interesting, than in the Soviet
Union during the early Cold War. Slava Gerovitch is among the first
scholars to command the linguistic skills, cultural resources, and
historical awareness to offer a definitive account. From "Newspeak to
Cyberspeak" not only sheds new light on the byzantine intellectual world of
the Soviet Union, but holds up a fascinating mirror to the West as well.
This is a groundbreaking achievement that deserves a wide audience." Paul
N. Edwards, Director, Science, Technology and Society Program, University
Dr Alex Andrew writes to CYBCOM about his
experiences of the
Russian cybernetics scene.
Cyberneticians might note Leonid Ototsky, our correspondent in
Magnitogorsk, is developing a website on Stafford Beer. Beer's
celebrated "World in
Torment" paper is available for download.
Our attention was recently drawn to some work on Beer in New Zealand
VSM Analysis of the New Zealand National Innovation System" by Sean
Negreponte on the $100 Laptop
In his first PowerPoint presentation Nicholas Negroponte talks about
Media Lab's work on a wind-up laptop for developing nations. Video from MIT. High volume
production is planned for 2007. This is truly fascinating: a non-profit
business model is described with all the technical and cultural issues
addressed. Excellent questions from a learned audience.
President calls for Government to back Robotics
Should the UK instigate a Grand Challenge along the lines of the USA's
competition to build a robotic vehicle to cross the desert unaided?
This was a topic of conversation at a workshop held by The National
Advanced Robotics Research Centre NARRC at the University of Salford on
December the 1st.
Robotics is widely predicted to be the growth technology of the 21st
century in a similar fashion to the way the motor car was the major
technology of the 20th. The UK is lagging way behind, Japan, America and
Korea. The USA's Defense Advanced Projects Agency DARPA Grand Challenge was
to build and race self navigating autonomous ground vehicles over a 132
mile (212km) course in the Mojave Desert, Nevada for a cash prize of 2
One of the NARRC delegates, David Buckley, has suggested a competition
for a humanoid (biped) robot to negotiate a short obstacle course, pick up
an empty drinks can and return to the start of the course with the can and
place it on a table. It is difficult and expensive to make an advanced
humanoid biped robot; the word's most advanced humanoid, Honda's ASIMO, is
reputed to have cost over $140m to date. However useful robots need to work
in our built environment; climb stairs, open doors, work at table top
height, etc. The potential market for humanoid robots is huge if the cost
can be made low enough. Early applications are likely to be in the areas of
the three D's dirty, dangerous or dull. David suggests that there could be
four classes of humanoid in various heights up to 2m tall. Radio control
would be allowed. But who would fund the prize, the DTI, the MoD, the
Department of Education or industry perhaps? It has been a long time since
the UK government took such a step.
The last time was when the problem of deducing longitude at sea was
solved in 1764 by the engineer John Harrison who created the first accurate
seaworthy clock. The problem had been unsolved despite the best efforts of
Galileo, Cassini and Newton until the Board of Longitude (the first science
funding body in the UK) set up by the King and Parliament paid out the
£20,000 prize money. The society's president would be delighted to
Talks to the Society are held in King's College Council Room 6.30 for
7.00pm start. Directions.
More on the talks given this season.
|Monday 24th April
||Dr Syed Raza "Sending Money Over the Internet"
|Monday 31st May
||Sally Ingram "Chaos, Fractals and the Quantum Mechanical
Organisation of the Human Genome"
|Monday 21st June
||Council Meeting and AGM:
organiser David Dewhurst
|Monday 25th September
If you would like to talk to the Society please get in contact with one
of the meeting organisers.
Paul Pangaro videos and website
Dr Paul Pangaro has
collected videos of
von Foerster and Pask. Paul's excellent Stanford video lectures and
supporting materials on Cybernetics and the entailment structures of
Conversation Theory will be most helpful to practitioners and students
alike. Thoroughly recommended. The collection includes a rare black and
white film transcription of Pask's exhibit "Colloquy of Mobiles" from the
famous Institute of Contemporary Arts Exhibition of 1968 "Cybernetic
The site covers much of Paul's activitiy in Cybernetics and hosts
New Journal: Constructivist Foundations
Constructivist Foundations (CF) is an independent academic peer-reviewed
e-journal without commercial interests. Its aim is to promote scientific
foundations and applications of constructivist sciences, to weed out
pseudoscientific claims and to base constructivist sciences on sound
scientific foundations, which do not equal the scientific method with
objectivist claims. The journal is concerned with the interdisciplinary
study of all forms of constructivist sciences, especially radical
constructivism, cybersemiotics, enactive cognitive science, epistemic
structuring of experience, second order cybernetics, the theory of
autopoietic systems, etc.
The first issue's table of contents and articles can be found at:
Number 1 (free registration required).
Alex Andrew reviews Conway and
Siegelman's "Dark Hero of the Information Age: In search of Norbert Wiener,
the father of Cybernetics"
Our distinguished member Dr
Andrew has the advantage of many reviewers in actually "being there" at
the time of the development of cybernetics working with Warren McCulloch.
Cyberneticians will find his reminiscence of McCulloch, MacKay
and the extraordinary Walter Pitts of particular
interest. The importance of McCulloch and Pitts' "A logical calculus of
the ideas immanent in nervous activity'' (1943) can hardly be
overestimated and is foundational to Artificial Neural Network (ANN)
research. Apart from building threshold logic equipment they established
Turing Universality in a potentially concurrent context.
Download in .doc format (Kybernetes Vol.34
No.7/8 2005 pp1284-1289). With thanks to Kybernetes.
30th Annual Conference of Cybernetics Society
Developments in Cybernetics
The 30th Annual Conference was held in
the Council Room at King's College in the Strand on
Saturday September 10th 2005. Contact. Papers included Dr Susan
Blackmore on evolving meme machines, Nick Hampshire on his e-book project,
Tony Wilkes on his music recognition software, Jeremy Gordon on his Windows
assembler, Tom Campbell on e-money micropayments, Doug Haynes about
Stafford Beer on DVD, Prof Raul Espejo on resonsponsible governance and
Prof Stephen Gage discussed trivial machines. Further details.
"Cybernetics of Cybernetics" (ed Heinz von
or "The control of control and the communication of communication"
Papers by Wiener, Pask, Ashby, McCulloch, Beer, Maturana, Umpleby,
Loefgren, von Foerster and many others scattered with explanations of major
topics like goal, feedback, homeostasis, entropy and information theory.
The "parabook" contains the table of contents and indexed glossary- it is
in the middle of the book.
Dr Allenna Leonard, President of American Society for Cybernetics,
writes that Steve Carleton has copies of this classic "treasure chest"
collection of papers for $49.95 (paperback) and $79.95 (hardback)
Email Diane Johnson who is
handling order fulfillment with a cheque or credit card. Fax
The paperback is now available from
Amazon in USA. Search on "Cybernetics of Cybernetics" with quotes.
American Society for Cybernetics
The Many Interpretations and Applications of Cybernetics
Many people have been using ideas, models and tools from the
trans-disciplinary science of cybernetics such as: circular causality,
feedback, systems and boundaries, constructivism, multiple realities or
perspectives, dynamic simulations, and activities that build upon the
possibilities and limitations of human and other information processing
Takeshi Utsumi "Creating a Global University System"
Eric Dent "Assumptions Shared and Not Shared by the Various Fields of
Karl Mueller "From Second Order Cybernetics to Second Order Science"
Stuart Umpleby "Two Paradigms of Social Science Research: How
Reflexivity Theory is different from Current Theories"
Russell Ackoff "Types of Systems and Models of Them"
Klaus Krippendorff "Language and Second-order Cybernetics: Technology
and its Relation to Human Beings"
Catherine Bateson "Relationships between Demographic Changes and
Ranulph Glanville "Knowledge and Design in the Era of Second-Order
Changing Organisational Change!
International Conference on Sustaining Change Management 2005
This is a workshop format conference to be held in Vienna, Austria
December 12-14 2005. Brochure (6
pages- 2.2 Megabytes .pdf)
18th European Meeting on Cybernetics and
18th-21st April 2006 in Vienna. The closing date for submitting papers is 11th October
Cybernetics - "the study of communication and control in the animal and
the machine" (N.Wiener) - has recently returned to the forefront, not only
in cyberspace and cyberpunk, but, even more important, contributing to the
corroboration of various scientific theories. Additionally, an ever
increasing number of research areas, including social and economic
theories, theoretical biology, ecology, computer science, and robotics draw
on ideas from second order cybernetics. Artificial intelligence, evolved
directly from cybernetics, has not only technological and economic, but
also important social impacts. With a marked trend towards
interdisciplinary cooperation and global perspectives, this important role
of cybernetics is expected to be further strengthened over the next
Sixteen sessions are
Ranulph Glanville writes: "EMCSR is one of the longest established and
highest prestige conferences in the field of cybernetics/systems research.
It has been associated closely with several major figures and the
development of a number of important concepts in cybernetics/systems
research." There is a briefing session on the next EU Reseach Framework.
Ranulph will be chairing a session on "The Cybernetics of Cybernetics:
Cybernetics, Interaction and Conversation"
Freeman Dyson reviews Conway and Siegelman's Wiener
Freeman Dyson once remarked to a
couple of members of our society "There are no such things as
singularities". He compares the earlier Heims and Masani biographies.
Masani edited "Norbert Wiener:Collected Works" in four volumes covering
everything from time series, Fourier analysis, information, control,
quantum theory, relativity and, of course, cybernetics. When a great man
talks about another great man expect great things. "A Tale of Tragic Genius" NY
Review of Books.
Intelligent Cybernetic Systems
This is a new Journal launched with a call for papers.
Intelligent Cybernetic Systems (ICS) publishes research papers
containing contributions in experimental, theoretical and applied aspects
of intelligent systems and cybernetics, including, but not limited to
Intelligent Systems, Robotic Systems, System Modelling and Control,
Adaptive Control Systems, Image Processing, Pattern Recognition, Safety
Reliability and Quality Assurance, Decision Support Systems, Manufacturing
Systems, Data Mining, Large Scale Systems, Human Machine Systems, Soft
Computing, Fuzzy Logic Systems, Neural Systems, Computational Intelligence,
Knowledge Based Systems, Agent-based Systems, Swarm Engineering, Emerging
and Evolutionary Methods, Biological Cybernetics.
Submitted articles may be of three basic types:
- Regular papers: Detailed discussion involving new research,
applications or developments.
- Brief papers: Brief presentations of new technical concepts and
- Correspondence: Letters to the Editor about the journal or to authors
commenting on previously published papers.
From the Society archive we
are pleased to present the audio file of Stafford Beer giving
the Gordon Hyde Memorial Lecture in
January 1990 (1hr 27mins).
He describes his student days and his use of OR in India as a Gurkha
Captain in Intelligence. He makes a plea for an epistemological approach in
science and attacks causality and correlation statistics in large systems.
He recommends Eastern philosophy as a route to understanding holism.
Thence he moves to the Steel industry and a two mile long process plant
producing cold rolled strip and wire. He read Wiener's
Cybernetics in 1950 and wrote to him about feedback control and
sent a telegram "Come to MIT at once". The imperatives of steel production
prevented this but Purposeful Systems (bounded by the Second Law of
Thermodynamics, ed.), Ashby,
Gray Walter, Pask, production control charts, the
cogging mill that breaks once in 130 years and the meagre pay rise for
workers who increased their productivity 30% through his innovation make up
for it. The Cybor House team, the 17th Pegasus 1k word machine,
dicemen and runes, the brain, Ashby and variety, SIGMA and the Gas Board.
He talks of SIGMA in Chile and Flores, pioneering work in newsprint- six
times overmanned, and the International Consultancy scene. He introduces
Wizard Prang. Remarks
"Make Machines to investigate what you are thinking about!" and announces
Geodesic Tensegrity (to become Syntegrity) at Manchester ending with
"Coincidence in your life is the inability to see what really matters".
More audio: Stafford responds to the Chilean
Coup (6 mins) and contributes to a memoir of Buckminster Fuller (27 mins). Fuller's syntegrity led to
syntegrity model and Pask's concurrent proof of the 60 degree
architecture of a minimal
space filling form.
|Click the icon to download a free copy of Windows media player to
play the Windows Media Audio (.wma) file.
Tuesday December 13th 2005 at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, UK, during
the annual SGAI conference AI-2005 Closing Date for Entries: October 1st
This is one in an annual series of competitions for live demonstrations
of 'Progress Towards Machine Intelligence' organized by the British
Computer Society Specialist Group on Artificial Intelligence (SGAI) in
association with AKRI. The competition is sponsored by Electrolux
The demonstration can be of either software (e.g. a question- answering
system or a speech recognition system) or hardware (e.g. a mobile
This competition will put on show real systems demonstrated live. It is
hoped that the competition and the competitors, over several years, will
provide a new interest and visible improvements in the development of
Entry Fee: none, conference registration not required. Prize: A
permanent trophy awarded for one year plus a £1,000 cash prize,
sponsored by Electrolux.
Format: The prize will be awarded on the basis of a 10-15 minute live
demonstration (not a paper or a technical description). The prize will be
awarded to the demonstration that in the opinion of the judges best
demonstrates 'progress towards an intelligent machine'.
Judges: All registered delegates at the conference will be eligible to
vote in a secret ballot.
Eligibility: The competition is open to all. A maximum of 5 entries will
be presented. To control numbers, these will be selected by the organizers
on the basis of information provided by the entrants.
Further information the organizers Prof. Max Bramer (Chairman, SGAI) and
Dr. John Gordon (Director, AKRI).
The Cybernetics of Managerial Cybernetics Practice
Special Guest: Allenna Leonard
7th Workshop in Sharing Practice: a One Day Workshop from 10am April
15th 2005, John Foster Building, John Moores University, 98 Mount Pleasant,
Denis Adams describes the intentions with a
commentary on the profession of Management Cybernetics and some
International Herald Tribune review by
Corneila Dean of the New York Times.
The publisher writes:
In the middle of the last century, Norbert Wiener-ex-child prodigy and
brilliant MIT mathematician -founded the science of cybernetics, igniting
the information-age explosion of computers, automation, and global
telecommunications. Wiener was the first to articulate the modern notion of
"feedback," and his ideas informed the work of computer pioneer John von
Neumann, information theorist Claude Shannon, and anthropologists Gregory
Bateson and Margaret Mead. His best-selling book, Cybernetics, catapulted
him into the public spotlight, as did his chilling visions of the future
and his ardent social activism. So what happened? Why is his work virtually
unknown today? And what, in fact, is Wiener's legacy? In this remarkable
book, award-winning journalists Conway and Siegelman set out to rescue
Wiener's genius from obscurity and to explore the many ways in which his
groundbreaking ideas continue to shape our lives. Based on a wealth of
primary sources (including some newly declassified WW II and Cold War-era
documents) and exclusive interviews with Wiener's family and closest
colleagues, the book reveals an extraordinarily complex figure, whose
high-pressure childhood, manic depression, and troubled relationships had a
profound effect on his scientific work. No one interested in the
intersection of technology and culture will want to miss this epic story of
one of the twentieth century's most brilliant and colorful figures.
Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman's new book is published by Basic Books ISBN
0738203688. Available now in US.
What does a new generation think? Tim Kelley studying for his Comp Sci
Masters reviews Wiener's
classic "Cybernetics". Cybernetics, he observes, "a field crushed by its
Professor George Ellis
lectures on the central doctrine of classical multi-level cybernetics. This
video feed is from
the Royal Society Templeton
Lecture. Newcomers to cybernetics will find this a useful introduction. A
tour-de force indeed. Enjoy but...
Controversially he claims that the "goals" and "information" of
cybernetics cannot be applied to objects smaller than supramolecules. This
denies that force equilibria and the second law of thermodynamics apply
below this level and smuggles a ghost into his machine. Professor Lewis
Wolpert exorcises the ghost at question time. If physics improves the
precision of descriptions it is not clear that Ellis' position on
consciousness, that no experiment is possible to predict a new experiment,
holds. Prof Lord May remarks that animals (that might evolve into
physicists) are conscious. The Conant-Ashby Theorem (which
asserts "Every good regulator of a system must be a model of that system")
extends some form of consciousness to all self-regulating, persisting or
stable, distinguishable objects, like tables, rocks, atoms etc.
Pask, for whom durations were incommensurable for communicating domains,
has shown (with his Lambda
matrix p.49) causal asynchronous communication between synchronous
circular processes, homeostats, requires a relativistic correction
banishing master clocks and adopting coherence as boundary defining.
Prof Ellis adopts circularity but not its interior lack of causality. He
criticises physics failure to predict the weather or model chess players
but does not identify "agreement" with "equilibrium" or the pathology of
serial/parallel computing and mathematical methods in n-body problems- a
property not shared by nature which like a mechanical model is concurrently
Slides in Powerpoint (.ppt ) or web (.htm) format from Prof Ellis' lecture and Jean
Marie Lehn's Nobel
Prize lecture on Supramolecular Chemistry (.pdf).
BBC2: Design and Construction with Domestic
If you, or someone in
your family, has some technical, mechanical or DIY skills, and you might be
interested in competing for cash prizes, have a look at their website for more
The Bruin reports.
"The time of cybernetics has come", said program chair Joe
DiStefano. "These tools have been around for a long time, but their
utility and power wasn't recognized because the demand wasn't great
material includes Cybernetics, Biomodelling, Probability, Statistics,
Systems and Signals, Feedback Control Systems, Modelling and
Multiple Versions of the World
Berkeley celebrates Bateson's centennial with a
conference on his continued influence in
cybernetics and anthropology. Berkeley News reports.
On the East Coast CUNY, New York , "Art, Circuitry, and
Ecology: Honoring Gregory Bateson".
Cybernetics North (CN) at Manchester Business
CN is based at John Moores University in Liverpool. With many Metaphorum
members CN has
held three Conferences on sustainability of communities and regeneration.
Health services will be the theme for summer 05. Monthly workshops are
being run at Manchester Business School. Contact Dr Robin Asby. Next workshop Friday 19th
November: "Organisational Change; Mosaic Transformation, Ecocycle and the
CN is a society devoted to honouring Beer's work and wanting to create a
context for sharing the experience of practitioners using systemic methods
and tools, (not only) cybernetics, in the UK and in particular in the North
Metaphorum in Dublin
Next Conference Dublin May 5th-6th 2005. Contact Dr Angela
Espinosa. Metaphorum was also
set up to develop the management methods of Stafford Beer applied to
On the first day amidst much discussion posters were presented by Dr
Y.I. Hayut-Man, Academy of Jerusalem, who presented an approach to a
Virtual New Jerusalem to celebrate the Abrahamic Religions. Nick Green,
Real Time Study Group, talked about management cybernetics of NHS IT in the
Papers were given by Leonie Solomons, Sunderland University, applying
Beer's Viable System Model (VSM) to development in Sri Lanka. Margeret
Heath, Free University of Brussels, discussed VSM and the issues for
cognitive science it poses.
On the second day Prof Alfredo Moscardini suggested closer affiliations
between The Society, Metaphorum and Cybernetics North. Dr Allenna Leonard
facilitated Dr Marcela Villarreal, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation,
who discussed the impact of AIDS in Africa on Agriculuture and development
solutions required and John Clarke, UN Health Organisation, who discussed
the difficulties of getting appropriate responses from agencies.
In the afternoon Dr Steve Wright, Omega Foundation, discussed his
analysis of the Northern Ireland conflict and drew the Society's attention
to social control technologies under development. Dr Paul Stokes,
University College Dublin, discussed improving the applicabity of VSM to
the Social Sciences and Luc Hoebeke criticised aspects of the paradigm
under application. This most expert group of management cyberneticians was
highly appreciative of the subsequent discussion which clearly will
Full programme details.
The conference was a great success and we are pleased to say the
proceedings will be published in a special edition of Kybernetes. We were
honoured with the participation of Dr Allenna Leonard (the late Stafford
Beer's partner), President of the American Society for Cybernetics and
daughter, the painter, Vanilla Beer. We thank them both for their learned
Conference Downloads received so far Dr Paul Stokes "Identity as a Cybernetic Construct and
Process", Dr Espinosa's "Measurement systems
in socio economic development programs from a cybernetic view", Nick
Green's NHS IT and Interactions of Actors posters, Dr Stokes' handout on
VSM in Sociology and Dr Hayut-Man's on the
Jerusalem Interfaith solution. Steve Wright on
Ireland and his report for the European Parliament on political
control technology. Pictures from
Vanilla Beer. Leonie Solomons of Metaphorum reports.
July 26th 2004 7.30 Room 4.63 at King's College,The Franklin-Wilkins
Building, Stamford Street, London SE1 9NN. Council Meeting 6.30p.m.
Visitors to UK this summer include Lofti Zadeh founder of Fuzzy Systems
Theory for the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society conference in
Ulster in September and Humberto Maturana renown for seminal work on
cognition and Autopoiesis (self-production) for the UK Systems Society in
Oxford, St Annes College September 7-8th. Past President of the American
Society of Cybernetics Pille Bunnel the eminent systems ecologist will
keynote for the theme "Citizens and Governance in the Knowledge Age The
Contribution of Systems Thinking and Practice". See Conferences
U.S. plans to give
the homeless subdermally implanted Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
tags to track their health.
PPIFO, Patient Public Involvement
Forum Organisation is under development to support the new 5,000 odd
voluntary NHS inspectors in the 570 NHS Trust Patient's Forums around
England. "How do we minimise error in the NHS?" asks consulting
cybernetician Nick Green in a request for suggestions. Contact PPIFO.
Can RFID tags help here? Start-up company Exavera Technolgies thinks its
system maybe the answer.
The Register ("Biting the hand that feeds IT") dubs RFID technology
Oil" when applied to passports.
Global warming is now advancing so swiftly that only a massive expansion
of nuclear power as the world's main energy source can prevent it
overwhelming civilisation warns cybernetician James Lovelock FCybS(hon)
in the May 24th Independent
"Nuclear creates enormous problems, waste we don't know what to do with;
radioactive emissions; unavoidable risk of accident and terrorist attack."
Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth.
Stafford Beer's "Chronicles of Wizard Prang" are collecting on the web
thanks to Ian
Perry and the Cwarel
Isaf Institute. Cybernetic koans? Or fairy tales for the concurrently
challenged? The guru of management jests.
SenseCam is a badge-sized wearable camera that captures up to 2000 VGA
images per day into 128Mbyte FLASH memory. In addition, sensor data such as
movement, light level and temperature is recorded every second. This is
similar to an aircraft "Black Box" accident recorder but miniaturised for
the human body. This can interface with the "Lifebits
project" in which Gordon Bell (DEC's VP for
R&D and PDP 6 Designer) has provided data for an experiment in lifetime
storage and software research. This is a practical beginning of the
pervasive computing of MIT's Project
Oxygen. In a Sunday Times article
Nick Bayliss, a psychologist from Cambridge University, is reported as
regarding this as possible technology addiction and a substitute for living
life to the full. Liberty are quoted "being repeatedly photographed and
recorded risked everyone's becoming life public property". Can improved
accountability make life riskier?
Ranulph Glanville reports on the meeting of
International Federation for Systems Research at the recent 17th European
Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research where he represented the
Peter Marcer announces "Nilpotence" is
the BCS CMSG objective for debate in 2004/2005. "Is it the unique key to
the antechamber of the universe?"
Professor George Spencer Brown
It is with delight we learn that Spencer-Brown is back in UK.
He can be contacted via Thomas Wolf's Laws of Form website.
Lou Kauffman gives an exposition of Laws
of Form as a boundary calculus. Pask pointed out boundaries exert repulsive
forces thus requiring a force axiom to permit counting.
The surviving 91 pages of Pask's previously unpublished 1993 manuscript
have been assembled for download in .pdf format
(last corrected 13/4/04). An index and table of contents has been added by
Nick Green who worked with him in the last years of his life. In an
extraordinary and wide ranging development of the earlier Conversation
Theory (CT) Pask compares and contrasts his development of CT with IA
The style is dense but enlivened with wit, charm and criticism of
This work is foundational to the establishment of the Borromean Link
model of learning, self-organising, continuity (or evolution) around a
void and the current work on the strict coherence interpretation of
From paragraph 326 in speaking of the new dynamic form of his
proto-logic Lp he states "..resonance or local synchronicity of in-phase
oscillations, radiating into an Lp field make sense."
The work was intended to put the so-called soft sciences on a stricter
foundation. It re-interprets existing relativistic and string theory
constraints with a general theory of force and organisation establishing
cybernetics on a firm basis for future application. It remains to be seen
if it will be accepted.
Pask's last paper "Heinz von Foerster's
Self Organization, the Progenitor of Conversation and Interaction
Theories" is now available in .pdf. It is a useful mature summary in
written in 1996 of the 1993 work with hints of the final work in progress
on coherence and the Borromean model. It is now with index.
Dr. Alex Andrew FCybS concluded his fascinating talk "Loose Ends in
Cybernetic Thinking" from October last year. Alex's excellent Notes from the talk include references.
Evening meetings are held at King's College Room 4.63 of the
Franklin-Wilkins Building, Stamford St. SE1 9NN (Waterloo Campus of King's
Map of location.
Non-members welcome. Intending vistors please contact a Council Member.
Dr Ranulph Glanville has attended the 17th European Meeting on
Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR). He has represented us at the
International Federation for Systems
Research (IFSR) meeting to be held during the
He chaired Symposium C: Cybernetics, Interaction, and Conversation on
Wednesday, April 14.
- A Conscience for Cybernetics
R. Glanville, University College London, United Kingdom
- Observations on Humorous Act Construction
- A. Nijholt, University of Twente, Enschede,
- A Scenario Synthesis of Knowledge Grounding in Engineering
Y. Liu, J. Yu, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
From the BBC: The rail industry is riddled with "uncontrollable costs"
and needs fundamental change, according to a report by an environmental
The report uncovered "the staggering scale of costs and inefficiencies
and secrecy", Transport 2000
"This kind of waste appears routine in the unaccountable Public Service
bureaucracies of the world" said our Council member Nick Green FCybS today,
chairman of Real Time Study
Group. "We call upon HM Treasury to consider again our proposals to
solve this problem." The Group's approach is based on formally escalating
alerts through the management system. Stafford Beer called this Algedonic
Guardian "The current structure would not lead to significant service
improvements and needed to be changed, said the report from the Commons
transport committee." Nick Green added "This should be regarded as a
technical management problem needing a technical mangement solution not
another opportunity to rearrange the deckchairs."
We are pleased to announce Spencer-Brown author of the ground breaking
"Laws of Form" is alive, well and doing mathematics back in the UK. A new
edition of Lof prepared by Thomas Wolf for Germany has led to a website
hosting the Ross Ashby Memorial Lecture paper about the Four Colour Map
Theorem. This was delivered to a plenary session of the Thirteenth
European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research at the University of
Vienna in 1996 for the International Federation for Systems Research. GSB's
latest is " Primes between
squares". There is a autobiography in preparation. Some poems are to be
The European IST Prize is the most distinguished Prize for innovative
products and services in the field of Information Society Technologies.
The Prize is open to companies
or organisations that present an innovative IT product with a promising
Werner Ulrich writes "C. West Churchman died on Sunday 21st of March in
Bolinas, California. He was 90 years old.
You can find an
obituary notice from the San Francisco Chronicle of 25th of March,
along with more material in appreciation of West, in the "Tribute to West Churchman"
section of my home page"
By special arrangement with Kybernetes new reviews by Dr. Alex
Have you read something that might be of interest to us? Send a review.
The Centennial Gregory Bateson Lecture Given by Professor Mary Catherine
Bateson at the Tavistock
Centre on 17th May. Free admission. Tickets
Many thanks to Professor Keith Cash for
a most interesting talk in an area quite novel to members. Men often resist
rational advice when faced with health risk. Keith demonstrated the
application of Drama Theory to this akrasia. His presentation is in .pdf format.
More about Drama Theory at dramtec.
An announcement and Call for papers has been made for the meeting to be held April 30th-
May 1st in Sunderland.
Professor Martin Smith, President of the Cybernetics Society, announced
to day he is appearing in and consulting for a new programme on Sky and
Cable "Mutant Machines".
Martin also tells us he is organising this year's
Micromouse Competition to be held in Saturday 19th June at the Think Tank in Birmingham. More.
Prof. Robert B.
Laughlin won the Nobel prize in 1998 with Störmer and Tsui "for
their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged
excitations". In his talk discussing "The Self-Organization of
matter" Laughlin says of the pathological limitations of serial
mathematics and computing methods "Unfortunately, the latter [theory of
everything equations] cannot be tested because the problem is bigger than
any computer that now exists, or even any computer that can ever be built."
This has led to the Anyon Calculus-
but there is still no formal concurrent methodology in the Physics
Community. In many respects Structural Engineers come closest to modelling
this level of complexity.
Dr. Townsend is a retired Clinical Neuorologist developing a site on the
interpretation of Electroencephalograms.
The Java applet simulates a four pen chart recorder with perturbable
In the course of wide-ranging discussions on Forces in Cybernetics
Professor Kauffman, introduced us to his new paper "Non-Commutative
Calculus and Discrete Physics", [A,B] = AB - BA .
He also gave us a quote from "Fragments of the Void-Selecta".
"The paragraphs are intended as intense little excursions into thoughts on
the edge of the void, near the simplicity of one distinction or no
distinction at all", he says.
He kindly agreed to publish it here as
part of out Winter Solstice celebration.
Lou also drew attention to Knot
Plot: first class software from Rob Scharein. A model example of
documentation and support for those interested in knots or who would like
to know more. You can download Knot Plot and its
documentation to run on most machines. Load 6.3.2 will load a Pask
Borromean concept/continuity model and minimising the energy or relaxing
the link (select energy, undamped dynamics, and allow collisions) you will
see some of the vibrational modes. The difficulties of simulating
concurrence which this software attempts should not be underestimated.
To make a Borromean Link select the Braid tab on Control Panel. Set
ngens at 6, nstrings at 3 and click aBaBaB and click Close. Select Main and
click Go. Your Pask cybernetic model of learning continuity well relax in
front of your eyes.
This affectionate memoir from David Whittaker has a short review on
Stafford's Memorial page. Highly
After the under achievements (" Not there
yet" Minsky) of Lenat's Cycorp, MIT
has launched an attempt at A.I. by directly collecting commonsense rules to
explain story scenarios. Pask's I.A. was in part set up to repair the
deficiencies in A.I. research but Minsky thinks serial machines can
simulate minds without Pask field concurrence. You can contribute to the new approach
which is a model of clean design.
- "Myosin, muscle and motility"
17 and 18 May 2004
- "Catalysis in chemistry and biochemistry"
14 and 15 June 2004
- "Beyond extinction rates: monitoring wild nature for the 2010
Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 July 2004
Admission Free. Tickets required.
Pask's IA axioms can produce a Viable System
With the vice-president in the chair Nick Green FCybS talked to our
November Meeting about the application of Pask's Interactions of Actors
Axioms to Development and Differentiation in Beer's Viable System
Model. Pask produced a force based learning model where all persisting
closed looping processes were regarded as concepts. Here self-organisation
and evolution become equivalent.
An interesting discussion followed. Some members seemed to have
difficulty with Pask's introduction of force into Cybernetics. Coherence
and differentiation were how Pask saw this approach developing. Now
concepts exert forces and we have the Borromean resonance model of
Nick is happy to deal
with any queries.
Many thanks to Alex Andrew for his fascinating talk at our October
meeting on "Some Loose Ends in Cybernetic Thinking". Full Text. A vigorous wide-ranging discussion
ensued including much material on animal linguistics including
Professor Donald Mackay
The late Donald Mackay amongst his many achievements and provoking
insights was noted for his two types of information (Phil. Mag., 1950, 41,
289 ). In his talk to the Society Alex Andrew described them as structural
classifiers: logons and "fine-tuning" or metrical types: metrons. Alex has
prepared a list of Mackay's
publications with some introductory remarks. We hope to resume
discussion of his themes at our Meeting in 29th March 2004 (last Monday of
every month is usual).
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign March 4-6, 2004
Ashby's Requisite Variety, fundamental to our discipline, describes the
equilibrium state of homeostasis. In 1994 because of the dynamic character
of equilibrium Prof. Eugene Yates introduced the term "homeodynamics". In
his 2002 paper for a National Institute of Health Conference on Aging "
Homeostasis to Homeodynamics", he distinguishes C.H. Waddington's
"homeorhesis" and Iberall and Soodak's "homeokinetics" ("Homeokinetics: A
physical science for complex systems" Science, 201: 579, 1978). A less used
term is "rheostasis" coined by Nicholas Mrosovsky and discussed in his
monograph "Rheostasis: The Physiology of Change" (OUP 1990 ISBN 0195061845)
where the changing of the set-point of the homeostat is considered.
Restrictions on the applicability of the Law of Requisite Variety
continue to be discussed.
Prof Helen Margetts is an ex-programmer/analyst and mathematician now
Director of the School of Public Policy at UCL. Her paper " The
Cyber Party" considers the possibilities for political party
development in the age of widespread use of the Internet. There are more of
her papers on
e-government including " Cultural
Barriers to e-government" commissioned by the National Audit
A short report of the Clifford Patterson Lecture
given by Chris Toumazou, Professor of Circuits and Systems at Imperial
College London, at the Royal Society.
From theories of pedestrian movement and traffic flow to voting
processes, economic markets and war, researchers are striving towards a
physics of society. Thanks, again, to Tony Booth for pointing this out.
The author, Philip Ball, is a science writer and journalist working in
London. This article is based on his forthcoming book Critical Mass:
How One Thing Leads To Another (Heinemann), which is due to be
published in January 2004.
Members may remember Ron Atkin's work on traffic through hypergraphs and
his "q-analysis". Ball's approach is somewhat evocative of this but the
problems, principally the lack of applicable data, that prevented further
application of Catastrophe Theory, for example, may also be an obstacle
here. Jacky Legrand of Département Informatique Université
Paris 2 has an interesting primer and critique
of the Atkin approach.
Although the route to sustainable development is clearing there is still
some resistance to accountability to be overcome. The application of
Cybernetics, rather than Physics, to move to Utopia is surely something we
could formally address as a Society.
Tim Berners-Lee, the father of HTML and the Web, on
The Future of the World Wide Web"
courtesy of the Royal Society
Dr Tim Berners-Lee FRS discusses the Semantic Web and its Resource
Description Framework (RDF) support.
But can today's computers really "Do anything"? Tim suggests, at the end
of his talk, this has been proved mathematically. This is a common mistake.
Turing Universality implies decomposability into binary relations but does
not imply generally applicable. Better to recognise, as currently realised,
digital machines are limited to competence in serial or parallel process
emulation and mathematics. Nature by contrast is concurrent. Let us hope
Tim's apparent suspicion of self-reference and reliance on metalanguage are
not similarly flawed. Thoroughly recommended a very stimulating talk. Now
The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering have requested
initial views for this new study.
Mary Midgley, the distinguished philosopher and critic of science
attacks Dawkins' Memes in the Royal Institute of Philosophy Journal. This
might be of less significance for us but for her warm endorsement of
Lovelock's Cybernetically based Gaia Principle in her "Gaia:the Next Big
Thanks to all involved for making our meeting such
a success. Rather than merely marveling at the potential applicability of
Cybernetics in their particular domain speakers invariably identified real
world applications and solutions to practical problems.
We have requested longer abstracts from participants and full texts where
Suggestions for next years
News and Notices for details of a new
series of articles by Professor Martin Smith, President of The Cybernetics
Metaphorum was formed in June at the Hull University Staffordian Syntegration
to set up a website to make Beer's techniques more widely available. The
meeting is to ratify the Metaphorum constitution and objectives.
Past Proceedings - CybCon2002
for an account of The Cybernetics Society's Annual Conference in 2002, with
photographs of the event.