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Requisite variety, autopoiesis, and self-organization

Carlos Gershenson (Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico)

Kybernetes

ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 1 June 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

Autopoiesis is a concept originally used to define living systems. However, no measure for autopoiesis has been proposed so far. Moreover, how can we build systems with a higher autopoiesis value? The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Relating autopoiesis with Ashby’s law of requisite variety, self-organization is put forward as a way in which systems can be designed to match the variety of their environment.

Findings

Guided self-organization has been shown to produce systems which can adapt to the requisite variety of their environment, offering more efficient solutions for problems that change in time than those obtained with traditional techniques.

Originality/value

Being able to measure autopoiesis allows us to apply this measure to all systems. More “living” systems will be fitter to survive in their environments: biological, social, technological, or urban.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to Mikhail Burtsev, Raúl Espejo, Nelson Fernández, Roberto Murcio, Jesús Siqueiros, and two anonymous referees for valuable comments and suggestions.

Citation

Gershenson, C. (2015), "Requisite variety, autopoiesis, and self-organization", Kybernetes, Vol. 44 No. 6/7, pp. 866-873. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-01-2015-0001

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited