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Multiple perspectives on the terms “cyberneticist” versus “cybernetician”: From a group of ASC Conference participants

Tirumala Rao Vinnakota (Business Systems and Cybernetics Centre, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Hyderabad, India)
Faisal L Kadri (, Montreal, Canada)
Simon Grant (Institute for Educational Cybernetics, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Ludmila Malinova (Department of System Analysis, University of Economics in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic)
Peter Davd Tuddenham (College of Exploration, Potomac Falls, Virginia, USA)
Santiago Garcia (Financiera Maderera S.A., Santiago De Compostela, Spain)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 3 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to investigate and clarify possible distinctions between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician” with the intention of helping the growth of the cybernetics discipline in new directions.


After the American Society for Cybernetics ALU 2013 conference in Bolton, a small group of conference participants continued the conversations they had begun during the event, focusing on the comparison of the terms “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician”. The group felt the need for clearer distinctions drawn (or designed) between the terms, in order to sustain the discipline of cybernetics and to support its growth. The aim of providing these distinctions is that theory should feed into practice and practice should feed into theory, forming a cybernetic loop, so that the discipline of cybernetics is sustained while growing. The conference participants had conversations between themselves, and came up with multiple perspectives on the distinction between “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician”. The distinctions drawn mirror the distinctions between Science and Design: the science of cybernetics contrasted with the design of cybernetics.


The findings of this paper consist of recommendations to understand and act differently in the field of the discipline of cybernetics. In particular, a clear distinction is suggested between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician”. It is also suggested that in order for cybernetics to grow and be sustained, there should be a constant flow of developments in theory of cybernetics into the practice of cybernetics and vice-versa.


The authors believe that some people (called “cyberneticists”) should work on the science side of cybernetics, making strong contributions to the understanding and development of cybernetics theory. Others, (called “cyberneticians”) should work on the design side of cybernetics, to contribute through their actions and through the development of cybernetics practice. The result of this will be a self-organization that evolves naturally between theory and practice of cybernetics, leading to better learning of cybernetics, and in the process, sustaining it through continued growth. In this direction, the paper proposes several radical suggestions that may not be to the liking of traditionalists, but may be better received by the scientists and designers of cybernetics who can make a difference to the growth of the discipline of cybernetics.



Vinnakota, T.R., Kadri, F.L., Grant, S., Malinova, L., Tuddenham, P.D. and Garcia, S. (2014), "Multiple perspectives on the terms “cyberneticist” versus “cybernetician”: From a group of ASC Conference participants", Kybernetes, Vol. 43 No. 9/10, pp. 1425-1434.



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