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Article Type: News, conferences and technical reports From: Kybernetes, Volume 40, Issue 1/2
Ninth IEEE International Conference on Cybernetic Intelligent Systems
The conference was held on 1 and 2 September 2010, in the University of Reading, UK, with support of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society (UK and Republic of Ireland Chapter). Texts of the 26 papers, of which all except two were presented by an author, were made available ahead of the meeting in a 168-page A4-size volume, edited by M. Oussalah, R. Mitchell and N.H. Siddique. The meeting was truly international, and as well as participants from the UK and Republic of Ireland, others were from much further afield including Algeria, Canada, China, India, Iran and Japan as well as various European locations. The number of participants was in the region of 40. More information can be found at: www.cis2010.reading.ac.uk.
It has been arranged that authors can submit their papers for inclusion in the IEEE Xplore digital library (http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/conferences.jsp).
The sessions of the meeting were as follows: machine learning (four papers), applications (four papers), imaging (three papers), audio and signal processing (three papers), human-machine systems (three papers), algorithms (six papers) and control systems (three papers). All the papers appear in the printed proceedings but grouped under a slightly different set of headings.
It would be expected, the topics treated covered a wide range, and for example, the four papers in the first session on machine learning included:
one on learned facial feature selection, where the high computational cost was met by highly parallel operation in a campus grid;
one on flexible control of a manufacturing layout to deal with changes in demand or design, the flexibility achieved using a genetic algorithm;
one dealing with text classification, having particular application in health service provision; and
one on the use of a Hopfield neural net for clustering.
In total, 11 of the papers had a least one author belonging to the host School of Systems Engineering, of which Cybernetics is a part, at the University of Reading, and their range of topics gave an encouraging overview of research directions there, very much in keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of the subject indicated by Wiener’s reference to “in the animal and the machine”. Several reported projects had direct relevance to clinical practice, one being the study of text classification already mentioned. Another was related to a means of combating the tremor of Parkinson’s disease by electrical stimulation of basal ganglia of the patient’s brain, using an implanted stimulator. A substantial number of patients have been fitted with such stimulators and the aim of the reported study was to decide whether the stimulus could usefully be turned on and off in response to detected neural potentials. The findings were inconclusive because only a small number of patients fitted the comparison criteria but the potential usefulness of a larger survey was clearly demonstrated.
Another study having clinical value referred to the processing of multiple X-ray images as an aid to surgery. Images are processed to form a 3-D model from which the views most useful for the intended surgery can be derived. Yet, another was a comprehensive scheme for tracking dementia patients who wander from some permitted area, with use of “cloud” computing to let them be rescued by mobile units such as police patrols or cruising taxis.
Other contributions from the Reading “home team” included mathematical analyses of neural activity and two projects that involved physical interaction with live neurons. One of these explored means of achieving neural control of prosthetic devices. The other was aimed at studying neural interaction with a robot, including the changes in neural function arising from the interaction. This study made use of rat foetal brain tissue and was a continuation of the work that gave rise to a video available at: www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/how-to-train-yo/.
Another study that involved 3-D modeling was from Loughborough and referred to the precise construction of 3-D representations from stereoscopic visual input, linked to a project to produce 3-D digital records of the whole of the British railway system. A contribution from Spain referred to an application of the techniques of ground-penetrating radar to checking the soundness and therefore safety of ancient stone walls. Philosophical aspects received attention in a paper in which Semantic Category Theory (St. Quinton, 2005) was reviewed with special reference to mathematics. A paper from the Liverpool John Moores University, which has an archive and other links to Stafford Beer, contains an intriguing application of the ideas of the Viable System Model and of Sommerhoff’s “directive correlation” to “hot-swapping” of algorithms during computing.
The first day of the conference ended with a plenary address by the present writer, including reminiscences about time spent in the group around Warren McCulloch and the insight into his early life given by events related earlier (Andrew, 2005). The second day was rounded off with a discussion chaired by John St. Quinton on the topic: “Why can’t computers think […] yet”. The suggestion that computers would eventually be seen as thinking was accepted with surprising unanimity though with differing views about just when.
The foregoing account is necessarily sketchy and not all of the papers presented have been mentioned. However, it is probably enough to show that this was a valuable and enjoyable event. It was announced by Richard Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) that the next conference in the series is planned for September 2011 in Belfast and before that a debate on Sustainability in London at the end of March. Details of activities can be found at: www.cybernetic.org.uk.
Andrew, A.M. (2005), Appendix to review of: Conway, F. and Siegelman, J. (2005) Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics, reviewed in: Kybernetes, Vol. 34 Nos 7/8, pp. 1284-89
St. Quinton, J.G. (2005), “Semantic category theory”, Kybernetes, Vol. 34 Nos 9/10, pp. 1321–48