Cybernetic Intelligence Challenges and Advances Workshop


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 1 August 2004


Mitchell, D.R. (2004), "Cybernetic Intelligence Challenges and Advances Workshop", Kybernetes, Vol. 33 No. 7.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Cybernetic Intelligence Challenges and Advances Workshop

The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland Section of the “Systems, Man and Cybernetics” Chapter of the IEEE was formed in June 2002 and on 17 September 2003 held its second 1 day annual workshop at The University of Reading.

The workshop was held in the Gordon Theatre and the associated Common Room of the School of Systems Engineering, which comprises the University's Departments of Computer Science, Cybernetics and Electronic Engineering. The event comprised of 11 oral presentations, 6 poster presentations and a lunchtime demonstration of some of the research in the Department of Cybernetics. There were around 25 participants, a suitable number which, together with the facilities provided, allowed for a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of discussion about the work presented.

Following a brief introductory welcome from Professor Paul Sharkey, Head of Cybernetics, Professor Ali Hessami, Chair of the Section, formally welcomed the delegates. Eight papers were presented in the morning session, and after the lunch time demonstrations, three papers and the posters were presented in the afternoon, before a short discussion section led by Professor Hessami.

The first paper, entitled “Second order cybernetics and enactive perception” by Dr Mark Bishop and Dr Slawek Nasuto from Reading, was presented by Dr Bishop. He claimed that the first-order cybernetics could not be used to explain some aspects of the way humans perceive scenes, but suggested that second-order cybernetics, enactive cognition and dynamic systems theory could.

Dr John St Quinton from Zetetic Systems gave the paper entitled “Understanding language: an analytical method for man and machine”. He proposed that four fundamental elements of meaning, which he termed semantic categories, could be used to analyse natural language suitable for applications such as meaning related web search, the solution of ambiguity and paradox, and machine-based natural language.

Ann Tighe of the National University of Ireland presented “optimisation enhancement using self organizing fuzzy control”. This is work at a relative early stage on a method applied to the optimization of transportation of goods using (ideally) fully loaded lorries.

The University of Ulster's Dr Nazmul Siddique's paper was entitled the “Behavioural capacity of recurrent neural networks”. This considered different ways of feeding back neurons in the network, concluding that, on specific benchmark tests, recurrent connections before the non-linearities works best.

Ammar Belatreche also of Ulster, gave a paper describing “A method for supervised training of spiking neural networks”. An evolutionary strategy was used to tune the synaptic plasticity free parameters of the neurons, and it was shown how the non-linearly separable XOR and IRIS data problems could be successfully learned.

Fiachra Mac Giolla Bhride, another Ulster researcher, presented “Adaptive reasoning for genetic algorithms: a new strategy”. The key here is a reasoning module used to provide a supervisor element to a genetic algorithm. It was shown that this module can yield an improvement of up to 15 per cent in the time taken for high dimensional problems.

Dr Mourad Oussalah from the University of Birmingham discussed “bipolar logic for analysis of human-machine interactions”. In particular, he considered negative-positive-neutral logic, explaining for instance, the logical operations of such logic and applications.

Dr Xia Hong from Reading presented a paper, coauthored with Dr Martin Brown from Manchester Metropolitan and Dr Sheng Chen and Professor Chris Harris from Southampton, entitled “an orthogonal forward regression algorithm combined with basis pursuit and d-optimality”. This comprised of a novel model identification algorithm for linear-in-the-model parameter models extending the Gram-Schmidt procedure.

Dr Bala Amavasai, from Sheffied Hallam University, gave a survey paper “Control of a cluster of miniature robots through cybernetic vision”. Essentially, he gave an overview of a variety of techniques and applications of the small robots used by himself and his partners in the EU MiCRoN project.

Dr Richard Mitchell, from Reading, presented a paper “Intelligent agents and distributed models for cooperative task support” coauthored with Dr Rak Patel and Professor Kevin Warwick. This considered how software agents could be used to assist workers on co-operative tasks, by providing them with only the visual information appropriate to their task and appropriate prompts. The method is shown to be successful when applied to typical tasks of control room engineers at National Grid.

The final paper from Nathan Griffiths of Warwick was entitled “Supporting Cooperation through clans”. This interesting paper considered multiple agent systems and how it might be possible for the agents to form “clans” or groups with similar objectives, so as to improve cooperation between themselves.

Posters were presented on Hierarchical learning, prediction and translation of sign language message structures, McCloskey et al. from Ulster; “Tracking transluscent objects in cluttered scenes”, Selvan et al. from Sheffield Hallam; “Mineral resource appraisal based on information synthesis”, Cheng et al. from Reading; “A design flow for the hardware implementation of spiking neural networks onto FPGAs”, from Johnston et al. of Ulster; “Simplifying structures of Bayseian Networks” by Cheng et al. from Reading; “EEG-based communication: a time series prediction approach”, by Coyle et al. from Ulster; and “Modelling of a 3D crane system using parallel dynamic neural networks”, by Deng and Becerra at Reading.

Just after lunch there were two demonstrations of research in Cybernetics. First, Dr Ben Hutt showed some of the mobile robotics research done in the Department, with various small robots learning, communicating and interacting in a powered floor arena. Then Mr Nick Melder demonstrated some Haptic research, where a user had three phantom robot arms connected to two fingers and a thumb and was shown an image of a ball with indications of the position of the ends of the phantom. Various attendees at the conference were then able to move their hand to touch and then pick up and move this “virtual ball”: the ball could be felt as well as its inertia. Both demonstrations stimulated some interesting questions and comments.

The organization of the workshop was good; the presenters all made good use of computer-linked projector, and most kept to time. The demonstrations were much appreciated and there was plenty of discussion. A printed proceedings with the abstracts of all papers, including a CD with the full version of all papers and posters was provided, with space at the back for comments. The workshop was larger than the one held last year and contained a wide variety of topics in the area of Cybernetic Intelligence. It can be considered a very successful event.

Some initial plans for the third workshop have been made, with the event probably taking place at the University of Ulster. Details on the activities of the section can be found on the Web site:, which includes a link to its main Web site with more detailed information:

Dr Richard MitchellDepartment of Cybernetics, The University of Reading