Magnus Ramage (Department of Computing and Communications, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
David Chapman (Department of Computing and Communications, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
Chris Bissell (Department of Computing and Communications, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 12 January 2015



Ramage, M., Chapman, D. and Bissell, C. (2015), "Editorial", Kybernetes, Vol. 44 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-11-2014-0272



Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Kybernetes, Volume 44, Issue 1

Welcome to a new volume of Kybernetes. In Volume 44, we expect to publish six regular issues and two double issues containing conferences proceedings from 2014 (to appear at the end of the volume).

Issue 7/8 will contain the proceedings of the triennial conference of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics (in Ibagué, Colombia), with which Kybernetes has been associated since both were founded and of which we are proud to be an official journal. David Chapman attended this conference on behalf of the journal and presents a report on its work later in this issue.

Issue 9/10 will contain the proceedings of the 50th anniversary conference of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) (in Washington, DC, USA), whose proceedings we have published on several occasions in recent years; Magnus Ramage attended this conference on behalf of the journal.

Both WOSC and ASC have active members on our editorial boards, including Raul Espejo, director-general of WOSC and Ranulph Glanville, recently retired as president of ASC, among others. We value the different relationships the journal has with these societies.

In starting this new volume, we are introducing a new policy to the journal which will ask authors of all articles to consider and potentially make explicit the ethical implications of their work. Ethical perspectives are important for all scientific work but especially in fields such as systems and cybernetics where the overlaps between technology and society are so noticeable. Cybernetics and systems are tools that can and have been used for great social advance, but which can also be used in military applications and state surveillance, among other malign applications. Therefore it is especially important to be alert to the ethical implications of work in these fields.

Stated briefly, the new policy is as follows:

All authors must consider the ethical dimension to the work they report when preparing their manuscripts. If there are significant ethical issues, some mention of them must be made in the paper, with reference to sources which address the issues further and/or a more detailed discussion of the ethical dimension within the submitted manuscript.

Authors will need to formulate their own understanding of ethics – we are not seeking to impose a particular framework upon them. However, it is important that readers know that a consideration of ethics is not something new in either cybernetics or systems. To take a few examples: Norbert Wiener (1954) refused from mid-career onwards to support military work and advocated a humanistic approach to technology; Heinz von Foerster (2003) was strongly concerned with the importance of ethics within second-order cybernetics; West Churchman (1979) presented ethics as a crucial element in his influential expansion of the systems approach; and Luciano Floridi (2013) has recently presented a large body of work on information ethics. There are many others.

We will expand upon the role of ethics in cybernetics and systems in a longer paper, later in this volume. From henceforth, however, we will be expecting authors to consider the above policy in framing their manuscripts, asking reviewers to consider it in their reviews, and it will form part of our decisions as editors as to whether an article can be published.

There are ten refereed papers in this issue (in addition to David Chapman’s report on WOSC):

Huo, Zhuang and Ni discuss methods to enable users to evaluate the effectiveness of cloud computing services, especially in a situation where the data are fuzzy. They present a framework for cloud service evaluation, based on a number of parameters, and then describe a method for carrying out such evaluation under conditions of uncertainty. They also describe a series of simulation experiments to verify their methods.

Gao and Liu also work in the area of fuzzy multi-criteria decision making, but take a more theoretical approach. Their paper introduces a concept of the Precision Score, which enables them to transform the interval-valued intuitionistic fuzzy number (an approach used in many decision making articles) into a computational value. They present a brief example of financial investment options.

Yu, Su and Huang discuss refinements to the firefly algorithm, one of a series of optimisation algorithms inspired by natural properties (others have also appeared in this journal). In this paper they expand upon the basic algorithm to improve its precision and to avoid local optima (premature convergence around a level that is lower than the ultimately best level). They present a series of experiments to demonstrate the effectiveness of their algorithm.

Elkosantini and Frikha discuss better traffic light controllers, an important issue given the ever-increasing motor vehicle traffic in many city. They develop a new algorithm to determine the optimal length of traffic signal times for different directions, based on multi-detectors data fusion theory. As well as discussing the background to the issue and alternative methods, the authors present the results of a simulation of their algorithm.

Kim, Kim and Chung discuss issues of information security – how to avoid significant data breaches which may cause considerable problems to organisations – and specifically how to avoid the leakage of sensitive information. They present a model for assessing the vulnerability of particular items of sensitive information, and explore at length a large-scale case study of data breaches from credit card companies in South Korea.

Johannessen and Skaalsvik look at innovation in organisations. They ask what are the key drivers of creative energy fields, and how organisations can sustain creativity. After advocating the importance of innovation, they present a model of the drivers of creative energy fields. They then move on to discuss the design of innovative organisations, using an idea of an organisation as being like a set of Lego bricks with different creative properties.

Al-Jabri considers user satisfaction of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. His paper is based on a survey of users of a specific ERP system in an oil and gas company in Saudi Arabia. Using the Technology Acceptance Model as a framework, he developed a set of hypotheses about factors around user satisfaction, and examined the data using those hypotheses. He concludes that training and communications are key user satisfaction factors.

Jiang, Cai, Olle Olle and Qin examine the use of online customer reviews of products, and automated approaches to data mining such reviews for the purpose of customer segmentation. They present an approach using two stages – first analysing the mention of specific features, secondly clustering these using latent class analysis. They present examples of their approach in analysing a popular Chinese e-commerce site.

Xue, Wang and Chao look at supply chains within industrial clusters of small and medium-sized enterprises. They examine the processes of evolution of service systems within such supply chain clusters, using a model based on feedback processes of Quality of Service measures. They illustrate their method with an experimental case study.

Finally, Johannessen (here writing alone) discusses the processes that lead human beings to evil acts, and in particular crimes against humanity such as genocide. He generates a typology of such crimes based on an analysis of several historical cases, and moves on to consider the cybernetics of crimes against humanity. He concludes by considering ways to create cultures that prevent the drivers for such crimes.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Magnus Ramage, David Chapman and Chris Bissell


Churchman, C.W. (1979), The Systems Approach and its Enemies, Basic Books, New York, NY

Floridi, L. (2013), The Ethics of Information, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Von Foerster, H. (2003), “Ethics and second-order cybernetics”, in von Foerster, H. (Ed.), Understanding Understanding: Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition, Springer, New York, NY, pp. 287-304

Wiener, N. (1954), The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (Revised Edition), Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA

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