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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Kybernetes, Volume 43, Issue 2
In this second regular issue of Vol. 43, we have ten papers to present to readers, as ever showing a broad range of areas concerned with cybernetics, systems and management science. We have commented before on the geographical breadth of countries represented in the pages of this journal, and this issue is no exception, with articles coming from eight countries across four continents.
However, it is more the intellectual breadth of the field that never fails to astonish us. In the words of Ashby (1956, p. 4):
[C]ybernetics is likely to reveal a great number of interesting and suggestive parallelisms between machine and brain and society. And it can provide the common language by which discoveries in one branch can readily be made use of in the others.
The ten articles in this issue look at crisis management, health in individuals and organisations, decision making, artificial intelligence, robotics, and knowledge management. In each case, the common language of cybernetics (as well as systems and management science) can be seen, but in very different ways.
Bajgoric discusses a systemic framework for effective business continuity management – keeping an organisation running despite interruptions arising from various environmental factors. He begins by analysing existing frameworks of business continuity, then redefines business continuity in systemic terms and presents a framework for the effective management of business continuity. The work is based on Churchmans systems approach and draws on many contemporary examples.
Wei, Bu, Guo and Gollagher discuss crisis information dissemination: the ways in which information is spread during a crisis. They analyse the difference between strong and weak ties in networks, and construct a simulation model to examine the effects of different ties of networks. They explore the empirical validity of this model through an analysis of information dissemination following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.
Puche Regaliza uses and extends the viable systems model (VSM) of Stafford Beer to analyse the operation of software projects in Castilla y León, Spain. He explains at some length what constitutes each of the five systems that make up VSM, in the context of a software project, and maps the subsystems of each of the five systems, based on his fieldwork. He also draws some conclusions for the general use of VSM.
Šarotar Žižek, Treven and Mulej discuss the importance of creativity-based well-being of employees. They situate their argument in the current global crisis, both socio-economic and environmental, arguing that the crisis results from a lack of requisite holism and an inadequate attention to social responsibility of organisation. They seek to extend a focus on well-being to one that considers creativity-based well-being.
Tarride and González present a theory of healthy organisations. They discuss the major sub-systems of a human body, and what makes it healthy. They then apply these sub-systems to an understanding of healthy organisations, and in each case describe a homomorphism between the human body and aspects of organisations. From this analysis, they describe a method in which to diagnose the health of an organisation, and apply the method to a number of organisations in Santiago de Chile.
Li, Xie and Guo analyse group decision making – the simulation and analysis of the ways groups make decisions. They do this using artificial intelligence techniques, with an algorithm based on a simulation of plant growth, and apply their analysis to a dataset coming from a military decision-making scenario.
Kartelj, Šurlan and Cekic present a variety of case-based reasoning, a form of problem solving which applies past experience to new situations. Their specific contribution is a form of neural network for global optimisation, which mirrors the behaviour of electromagnetism. They evaluate the effectiveness of this method in two very different situations: a smaller dataset concerned with medical diagnosis, and a larger study concerned with construction project management.
Mai and Wang present work in the field of robotics, informed by artificial intelligence. They discuss the use of neural networks for the adaptive control of mobile manipulator robots, which have considerable application in a range of fields. They propose what they refer to as "novel wavelet fuzzy CMAC neural networks" for this control, and examine their use in cleaning robots.
Liu, Liu, Xu and Xiang provide an overview of insect bionics: the analysis of the structure and functions of insects, and the ways in which lessons can be applied from insects to robot design. They look across a wide variety of aspects of insects – olfactory, auditory, visual, motor skills, perceptual abilities, etc. In each of these areas, they look at the impact of insects upon robotics.
Liu discusses access control mechanisms for blogs (as a form of social media). These are typically controlled using passwords, but these are fairly insecure. The article proposes access control using ontologies (shared knowledge domain structures). It discusses these two alternatives in some detail, and conducts an evaluation of their relative merits to examine their relative ease of use and privacy.
Lastly, it has been brought to our attention that the published title of the special issue which concluded the previous volume, Vol. 42 Nos 9/10, was wrong. It should have been "An Ecology of Ideas", as it contained the Proceedings of the American Society for Cybernetics Conference 2012 in Asilomar, California, which held that title. Instead it appeared with the title of the 2013 conference, "Acting, Learning, Understanding", which will be published at the end of Vol. 43 of the journal. We apologise for this error.
We hope you enjoy this issue.
Magnus Ramage, Chris Bissell and David Chapman
Ashby, W.R. (1956), An Introduction to Cybernetics, Chapman & Hall, London